Tiny Twister Spotlight: Josh Katt, Founder of KitchFix

During the month of November, KitchFix, a Chicago-based kitchen that provides healthy meals delivered to the home or for pick up, is donating proceeds to Twist Out Cancer in honor of #GivingTuesday. They are generously providing a $1000 match for all donations made throughout the month!

Since 2012, KitchFix has cooked for cancer survivors and their loved ones, busy parents, CEOs, active people, Crossfit champions, TV personalities, young professionals, lawyers, professional athletes, and rock star musicians. Kitchfix is the solution for when you’re too busy to make a meal, in need of a healthy option, craving something scrumptious, or all of the above. Their meals are chef-crafted, made from scratch, sourced as locally as possible, approved by their in-house registered dietitian, and hand delivered.

 

This week, Jenna Benn Shersher, Founder and Executive Director of Twist Out Cancer sat down with Chef Josh, Founder and CEO of KitchFix to learn about what motivates them and why their partnership with TOC is so important.

Jenna:Why did you start KitchFix? What needs do you believe your company addresses?

I (Chef Josh) was a personal chef to a number of clients, and one of them requested that I cook according to an anti-inflammatory diet. She was recovering from breast cancer, and knew that eating this way can help tremendously in the healing process. I realized I could lean into all of the techniques I learned in culinary school to get inventive in creating delicious food that didn’t rely on dairy and gluten. This kind of food eliminates stressors on the body and focuses on whole, clean ingredients that all help the body function optimally, and this appeals to all kinds of people today who want to live healthier lives.

Jenna: Why are you interested in working with cancer survivors and their families? How did your work with this demographic begin?I truly believe that food can have a healing impact on your life. We have so many stories from our clients who have used Kitchfix to either lose weight, hit a personal health goal, or who are battling different auto-immune diseases and love having us as their go-to option. We don’t want people to ever feel like they are ‘losing out’ by having to eat this way — we want all of our clients to feel excited for each order, to try different menu items, and we want create craveable dishes that are even better than some of the classics you are used to!

Jenna: Why have you chosen to partner with Twist Out Cancer during the month of November?

Because this is the way our company got started, it holds a special place in our heart! We want to help people be healthier, but also to add joy into their life. That’s what Twist Out is all about. We all eat 3+ times a day, every day. Food is so much a part of what we do, and we want people going through a difficult time, especially with something as awful as cancer, to not have to sacrifice their food or flavor. We want to help bring awareness to Twist Out’s mission and give generously along with our clients to this cause!

Jenna: What are you most looking forward to with Cook Out Cancer- an Event that will be launched in partnership with TOC on January 19th?

We are so excited to see people discover what you can do when given a challenge. Sometimes challenges seem hard, but the best results can come out of them! By eliminating some of the ingredients many people are used to, we are looking forward to see what they come up with and watch people become proud of the skills they didn’t even know they had! We are most excited to have Shawn and his family here and have some fun with them in the kitchen.

Jenna: Do you have any words of advise for young adults who are starting to build their own venture?

Our journey has had a lot of ups and downs. Failure is inevitable. I have come up with some things that haven’t been hits, and some things that have taken us to the next level. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and accept the full package. Life can be really challenging when you’re pouring yourself into one thing, but make sure to celebrate all of the tiny wins because they all add up to huge successes!

To participate in KitchFix’s campaign for Giving Tuesday check out their page.

To register for Cook Out Cancer

Twist Out Cancer and PiperWai- A Natural Partnership

Sarah Ribner and Jess Edelstein, the dynamic and tenacious duo behind Piperwai natural deodorant, are driven by their desire to give back and make an impact. As recent winners of ABC’s highly acclaimed show, Shark Tank, they have chosen to use their platform to raise awareness and funds for nonprofits that are making a difference in the community.  Their recent partnership with Twist Out Cancer is a natural fit as the two groups are making waves in their respective communities.

Jess and Sarah have known each other since childhood. They had a thriving lemonade stand when they were little girls, and they always dreamed of one day working together as adults. Their friendship withstood the test of time, as the two went off to college in different cities.

After graduation, Sarah took a high stress job on Wall Street.  She found herself feeling sluggish and made a conscious decision to prioritize her health. Back when she was 15, she saw how her body and mind transformed by cutting out soda and heavy sugar. Now in her twenties, she decided to change her diet, and make the conscious decision to seek out natural products for her skin and makeup. Sarah not only started to feel better, but she found that she was able to manage her stress by prioritizing self care.

Jess on the other hand, had a problem that she needed to fix. As a heavy sweater with sensitive skin, she found herself struggling to find a natural deodorant that actually worked. She started to read about all natural recipes online and decided to try it herself. She noticed fairly quickly that there was a real void in the marketplace for products that actually work. Jess created a recipe that she believed in and convinced her best friend Sarah to bring it on a relief trip  to Central and South America. Sarah was so impressed by the product’s effectiveness that she shared it with the volunteers. When Sarah returned home she decided to partner with Jess to bring this recipe to the masses.

In 2012, PiperWai was born. Sarah and Jess worked out of Jess’s kitchen to perfect the recipe. Eventually they moved to a commercial kitchen and started to sell their product locally. On a whim the ladies auditioned and eventually won Shark Tank which has transformed the company overnight.

Sarah and Jess’s passion is contagious. Not only are their customers loyal but they have taken to social media using the hashtag #piperwai,  Customers are sharing their testimonials and how their product is changing their lives. The PiperWai social media accounts promote motivating and inspiring photos that align with the mission.

Sarah and Jess firmly believe that while you can’t live in a bubble, there are healthy choices that can be made to lower your risk of illnesses and promote better well being.

 Since Shark Tank, PiperWai is committed to partnering with a charity partner every quarter. They do not just randomly offer discounts on their product, instead they choose to discount goods for the benefit of non-profits. As their charitable giving started to grow, cancer survivors and their loved ones started to notice, and have since become repeat customers.

Cancer survivors are often concerned about what they should or shouldn’t put into and on their bodies before, during and after treatment. The armpit contains many lymph nodes, and there is often a concern about putting toxic chemicals close to areas that may or may not impacted by disease. One of Piperwai’s customers found a tumor in his armpit because he was using the product which currently does not have an applicator. By design the product encourages you to touch yourself and get in touch with your body. The male customer was thankful that he found the tumor when he did.

Twist Out Cancer is honored to be the chosen charity partner throughout the month of October. Jess and Sarah were inspired by Jenna’s story and the concept of how Twist is impacting the cancer community.

During the month of October, PiperWai is donating 10% of all proceeds to Twist Out Cancer. To participate, use the code TOC10 at the checkout.

On November 29th, in honor of Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving, Twist Out Cancer and PiperWai will host the first annual Sock Hop at  WeWork with proceeds going to TOC. For more information on the event please check the website.


Meet Brushes with Cancer Artist Alumni – Doug Jones


MEET Doug Jones, a professional artist with a background in non-profit work. He is a veteran Brushes with Cancer participant who has been involved since its inception. Doug says he met Jenna (the founder) through a mutual college friend and “she was so lovely to be around that we connected immediately”. Specializing in Wonder Woman art, Doug’s first Brushes piece was for Noreen who had received a Wonder Woman figurine in the mail the day before she was diagnosed. Since then, Doug became a strong believer in the benefits of the program and he has not only participated in all of the Brushes events, but he also assisted with planning the first Michigan Brushes event, and is hoping to get a Detroit event on the calendar soon.

“My background is in psychology.” Jones says. “Mainly trauma and resilience-oriented therapy. I have used art therapy a lot and I have seen the benefits of art in therapeutic efforts.” The biggest benefit of the program, in his eyes, is that “people can see they are not alone.” An important aspect of healing therapy after any trauma is to find individuals who have had similar experiences. “This is a great reminder that people live through and with this all the time. A diagnosis is not a death sentence,” he emphasizes. “I think those are the two biggest benefits [of the Brushes program]: the sense of belonging and understanding that this is not a death sentence.”

Doug goes on to say that “

“My involvement with Twist has been such a journey. I wasn’t sure if Jenna was going to survive that first year, and it was such an emotional experience. I have a unique sense of joy just watching [Twist Out Cancer] grow. From participating, to being on the host committee, it has been just such an incredible journey.” Doug speaks fondly about the organization as if he is a proud father, watching his baby grow and expand and do good in the world.

To someone who is considering participating, Jones offers his own takeaway from being part of the Brushes with Cancer family: “I have seen insights – each of my people have shared things with me that they feel they can’t share with anyone. There is something about the idea that I am a stranger, and because of the purpose of the project they feel they have been able to share things with me. Those true insights into their personal experiences are the things I cherish the most. I would not have known these people, many of whom have become friends, without this program.”

 

 

Meet Jenifer Miya: Brushes with Cancer Featured Artist and Cancer Survivor

MEET Jenifer Miya: artist, survivor, teacher, esthetician, mother, and grandmother. Radiance, strength, and beauty oozes from her every pore. Jenifer grew up in Japan, exposed to art, but never considered it an integral part of her life until more recently. She is a unique artist in this year’s Brushes with Cancer Chicago program because last year she participated as a subject. Her battle with cancer is still affecting her life, but she has found comfort and hope in the Brushes program. “I was introduced to Brushes with Cancer through Bowen Kline. We had become friends on Facebook because of his art, and it was around the time of my diagnosis so he recommended the program because he thought I would benefit from it.” Jenifer explains. She goes on to say that participating in the Brushes program the first time gave her a chance to see “cancer from a completely different perspective. I was used to seeing cancer as an ‘illness’ or a ‘disease’ but this…this takes the word beyond that. That word was just following me around: cancer cancer CANCER. But then, I walked into that room [February 2015 at the Brushes with Cancer gala] and saw all the art and paintings and it was like a different world. Instead of seeing cancer when I walked into that room, I saw people…and journeys. It wasn’t some hospital or sterile doctor’s office, it was LIFE. People who had lived it. Normal functioning people with all different stories that have been transformed into art. It was warm and refreshing. At Brushes, I saw the art that can come from pain and journeys and survival. And that changed my perspective.”

Jenifer says that experience was very healing for her and after that, upon encouragement from another subject/survivor, she decided to participate in the next program as an artist. Her call to back to art was born from grief, as she walked through her brother’s room with a glass of wine in hand. It was 2001, and he had recently passed away, and Jenifer found herself browsing through some of his art supplies. She picked up a brush and began to paint, and has been doing it ever since. She finds that painting helps her cope in her most difficult times, and being able to use her art to bring some hope and healing to someone else is her motivation for participating as an artist in the 2016 Chicago Brushes program. “It is such a different experience this time, being matched with someone as an artist because last year I was her – I was the subject. Listening to [my subject] talk about her experience made me realize that I am not alone. I am not the only one who feels this way. It was eye-opening. If I can bring to someone else an ounce of what I felt when I first saw all of the art, I would feel like I did something good.” As Jenifer finds another layer of healing in the Brushes with Cancer program, she recommends it to other people. “I think they are very good at pairing people up. I am very happy with both of my matches as a survivor, and also as an artist. It is very fulfilling,” Miya adds. “Being part of such an uplifting experience is incredible.”

 

Brushes with Cancer 2014- Pairing Artists with Those Touched by Cancer to Create for a Cause

This past April,  we launched a brand new initiative entitled “Brushes With Cancer- Pairing Artists with Survivors to Create for a Cause.” The event celebrates survivorship and hope through art, music and storytelling. Held at Chicago’s renown Floating World Gallery, the event successfully matched 18 artists with 18 survivors, and attracted over 400 attendees. In 2014 our hope is to expand the program to include 30 artists who will be matched those who have been touched by cancer. Please note that survivors, caregivers and loved ones are encouraged to participate.  We believe that you do not need to be a survivor to be impacted by this growing epidemic.

Over the next few months, those touched by cancer will be asked to share their “Twist On Cancer,” (lessons learned, fighting strategies and new perspectives) with our online community of support. Their ‘twists’ will serve as inspiration for local and international artists to create unique pieces of art. The art will be auctioned online and at the benefit this April. Check out last year’s recap video to learn more about the program.

 

Call For Submissions

Twist Out Cancer is calling upon anyone touched by cancer to share their twist on cancer between now and February 1, 2014.
To submit your Twist On Cancer click here

 
Selected artists will have the opportunity to showcase their art online and person. The art will be displayed and auctioned at Brushes with Cancer which will take place in Chicago this April.  Proceeds from the auction will go toward furthering Twist Out Cancer’s mission.

If you are interested in participating as an artist please contact Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer at Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

How Do I Get Involved:
If you are interested in joining the Brushes with Cancer Host Committee or are interested in supporting the event please contact Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

There will be 4 host committee meetings between January and April. Please note that you do not need to be in Chicago to participate.

 

From Leading to Following

On Sunday November 3, I had the pleasure of returning to Montreal, Canada to run a Twist Out Cancer workshop at Le Mood, the festival of unexpected Jewish learning, arts and culture.  In partnership with Dan Hadad, Twist Out Cancer Board Chair and ROI alum, the Schusterman Foundation afforded us with the unique opportunity to present our work in a city that we used to call home nearly a decade ago.

From 2003-2005, I served as the Director of Programs at Hillel Montreal after I completed my studies at McGill University.  During my tenure, I worked with Dan who at the time was the President of Concordia’s Hillel and subsequently the Director of Programming at Centre Hillel.  Dan was vibrant, argumentative, and whip smart. His relentless desire and commitment to educate and advocate for Israel amongst Jews and non-Jews alike was particularly daunting during the wake of the second intifada. On and off campus, tensions were high.  Dan used this as an opportunity to educate, advocate and transform the community into spirited cheerleaders for the state of Israel. I was initially drawn to Dan because he was a deep thinker, provocative and curious. Within weeks of working with him on various campus initiatives, I grew to love Dan because of the capacity of his heart and his deep desire to give.
Dan not only was my colleague but he quickly became my best friend.

In 2005, when I decided to pursue a masters degree at Columbia University in New York, Dan and I still managed to see each other every few weeks in Montreal on New York.  He was always a top priority.

Upon completing my studies in New York, I spent one last summer in Montreal with Dan before heading home to Chicago to begin employment at the Anti-Defamation League, where I have worked for the last six years.  As I embarked on a new chapter back home in Chicago, Dan moved to Toronto and took a position as the Associate Director of Special Projects at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

Although there was an undeniable distance between us physically, we were still inextricably connected both professionally and personally. In our respective communities in Chicago and Toronto, we were working as  full time advocates for the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Our lives in many ways continued to be synchronized.

On December 20, 2010 the path that Dan and I were on came to a significant crossroads. At the age of 29, I was told that I had cancer. I was forced to grapple with a life threatening illness, forced to stop making plans, and forced to live in the here and now. As I retreated into the depths of my illness, down a path that was painful and frightening, I quickly realized that  I was not alone.

Dan decided to follow me- and he was relentless. He called, texted, imed, and skyped regularly. He just kept showing up.He may not have known the perfect thing to say or do, but he just kept trying.  His capacity to love and give was overwhelming.

When I entered remission and finished treatment Dan continued to follow me. He followed me through the creation of Twist Out Cancer, he followed me to Israel where I was recently married and he followed me to Montreal to attend the Le Mood Festival. It was here, back home, in Montreal that Dan felt safe enough to articulate perhaps for the first time, what it was like for him to follow and not lead.

As I stood up in front of the audience and shared my story and my twist on cancer, Dan stepped up to the mic to share his. For the first time, I heard what it was like for him to support and navigate his best friend through the overwhelming darkness, the unexpected twists and turns, and the eventual re-entry back into the light.

As I listened to him articulate how deeply he was impacted by my illness, it became suddenly clear, that it was not I that was leading, it was Dan that I was following.

Sometimes it takes coming back home to realize how far you have come.  Thank you to the Schusterman Foundation and to Le Mood for the opportunity to listen, grow, learn, and follow.

http://www.roicommunity.org/blog/leading-following

Twist Out Cancer is Growing With You.

Over the last few months we have been digging deep.

Since October 2011, we have grown exponentially and have reached over 40,000 twisters! We have taken stock and reflected on our humble beginnings and are now looking towards the future-and dreaming big.  When first conceptualized twist- our goal was to provide psycho-social support to cancer survivors. What we didn’t anticipate was that we would also be addressing the critical and often unspoken needs of caregivers and supporters.  We often hear from our community members that when a family member or friend is diagnosed, they struggle with what to do, and what to say.  Twist Out Cancer  not only provides support for cancer survivors, but it provides a necessary platform for supporters to give back in a meaningful way.

Over the last 23 months we have been listening.

While you shared- the world opened up.

We have watched your twists on cancer, witnessed your creative responses, and have made the conscious decision to grow with you.

Our mission is now more targeted, more inclusive, and more representative of the movement you helped us create.

Below TOC’s updated mission statement, history and organizational overview.

There’s a place for you here.

Join us.

 

Our Mission

Twist Out Cancer (TOC) is a support community…with a twist!

Twist Out Cancer aims to harness the power of personal connection and community to support those touched by cancer.   

Our History

Twist Out Cancer was built on the belief that when you share- the world opens up.  At the age of 29, Jenna Benn Shersher was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called grey zone lymphoma which affects less than 300 people in the United States. As a young adult facing a rare cancer, Jenna found herself increasingly isolated and alone. Instead of being victimized by the disease, Jenna made the conscious decision to find meaning in her suffering. Midway through treatment, Jenna, a dancer at heart, was isolated due to her compromised immune system.  Longing for the days when she could dance freely, she posted a video of herself twisting alone in her room to Chubby Checker.  She asked her friends to join her on her virtual dance floor, and within days, Jenna’s challenge was met by hundreds of videos from thousands of people around the world.  Jenna no longer felt alone but instead connected to and supported by a community of twisters.  When Jenna completed treatment she knew that she wanted to give back in a meaningful way. She recognized the power of sharing and the importance of creating a support community that caters to the psychosocial needs of those affected by cancer.  Thus:  Twist Out Cancer was born.

What We Do

TOC helps individuals touched by cancer to address the unique emotional needs that accompany a cancer diagnosis. TOC provides a forum through which anyone affected by cancer can share thoughts, experiences, stories, and insights, allowing for the exchange of encouragement and wisdom from one community member to another.

Those touched by cancer are invited to create pages that distinguish their “twist” on cancer.  This “twist” becomes a collection of videos, posts, songs, pictures, or other media gifted by loved ones and friends. For example, a survivor who loves to cook might ask his community to share recipes, or pictures of special dinners his loved ones have created in his honor.  This “twist” becomes a collection of videos, posts, songs, pictures, or other media gifted by loved ones and friends.  This is a personalized digital legacy that encourages individuals to share, and the community to give.

TOC, in conjunction with Northwestern University, has created a curriculum for workshops which provide those affected by cancer an opportunity to share their experiences.  Survivors engage the community in meaningful discussions and exercises that foster creativity and support.

All of TOC’s community-based programs are directly inspired by content shared on our website. We believe that it takes enormous courage and strength to share your twist on cancer and our programs aim to raise awareness, garner support, and connect those affected with an activated and empathic community.

Twist Out Cancer is a community that celebrates creativity, encourages engagement, and believes in the importance of giving back.

 

 

Twist Out Cancer Presents: Brushes With Cancer- Pairing Artists and Survivors to Create for a Cause

Brushes With Cancer is an evening that celebrates survivor-ship and hope through art, music and storytelling.  Over the next few months, survivors will be asked to share their “Twist On Cancer,” (lessons learned, fighting strategies and new perspectives) with our online community of support. Their ‘twists’ will serve as inspiration for local and international artists to create unique pieces of art. The art will be auctioned online and in person at the Twist With An Artist Benefit taking place on April 17, 2013 in Chicago.

The Benefit
At the event, participating survivors will have the opportunity to share their Twist on Cancer, and the artists they inspire will discuss their creative processes and reveal their final works of art. All proceeds will go directly to the Twist community.

Inspirational stories of hope will be provided by


Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer


Jonny Imerman, Founder of Imerman’s Angels

Keynote Speaker


Ethan Zohn, Two Time Cancer Survivor and Winner of Survivor Africa


Music Provided by Palter Ego

Commentary provided by Anthony Ponce, General Assignment Reporter at NBC5

Call For Submissions
Twist Out Cancer is calling upon survivors to share their twist on cancer between now and February 28, 2013.
To submit your Twist On Cancer click here.

Selected artists will have the opportunity to showcase their art online and person. The art will be displayed and auctioned at Twist Out Cancer’s annual benefit taking place in Chicago on April 17, 2013. Proceeds from the auction will go toward furthering Twist Out Cancer’s mission.

If you are interested in participating as an artist please contact Jenna Benn, Founder of Twist Out Cancer at Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

How Do I Get Involved:
If you are interested in joining the Twist With An Artist Host Committee or are interested in donating goods/services please contact Jenna@twistoutcancer.org

There will be 4 host committee meetings between January and April. Please note that you do not need to be in Chicago to participate.

 

A Balancing Act.

A year ago today I was fragile but hopeful.

I had been out of the hospital for only 4.5 months and was slowly starting to regain my footing.

My appetite had started to come back, my hair was starting to grow in, but I continuously struggled to feel comfortable in the outside world.

The trauma was still front and center, cancer continued to monopolize conversations, and my relationships were noticeably strained.

For the first time in months, I was able to step outside of my own personal experience with this disease and recognize how it affected those around me.

It was no longer I Had Cancer but We Had Cancer.

As I started to empathize with my family and closest friends, I quickly realize that the process of healing, rebuilding and coping was happening in different ways and at different paces.

Cancer may have left my body but it did not leave my life.

The hopeful fragility I embodied last year perhaps remains true today.

I may be more comfortable in the outside world, but I still have moments of displacement.

I may be no longer tiptoeing into the sunlight, but I still have moments of caution.

I may not think about cancer on a daily basis, but her memories are beautifully detailed into the scars that lie beneath- and will forever be apart of me.

Perhaps balancing fear with hope, fragility with strength, illness with health is what life is and should be all about.

This balancing act- this juxtaposition- this existence somewhere in between what was and what is-  is exactly where I am supposed to be.

A place of gratitude-a place of uncertainty- a place of hope.

Here is to another year-filled with remarkable moments.

To those that stood by me throughout this journey- thank you from the bottom of my heart.

 

 

Let’s Be Real, Cancer

This Thursday, we’re joining our friends at The Vanity Project for the inaugural Let’s Be Real, Cancer Twitter Chat (#LBRCancer), part of an ongoing series where we get together and share our experiences, support, and tips. We won’t be pulling any punches or holding anything back, so come prepared to let loose and share your story!

This week’s topic: Dating: During and Post-Treatment

We also have an amazing panel of hosts:

 

Here are the details:

  • Where: On Twitter, under the #LBRCancer hashtag
  • When: Thursday, June 28th 5PM ET
  • Who: YOU and all your friends, of course

5 Lucky participants will get a FREE Twist Out Cancer shirt courtesy of The Vanity Project!

Can’t wait to see you there!!