We are the Twist Out Cancer Board

Executive Board
Jenna Benn Shersher, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Founder and Executive Director of Twist Out Cancer, President of the Board

Twist on Cancer: When you share the world opens up. When I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 29, I thought my life was over. I never imagined that I would be able to turn such a challenging experience into a movement centered upon the sharing, connecting and healing. Twist Out Cancer has not only provided me with a space to process and heal from cancer but it has given me the opportunity to connect with so many others that have been touched by this disease.

Alana Dugandzic, Chicago, Illinois, Senior Account Executive at Sales Force, Board Chair of Twist Out Cancer

Twist on Cancer: My twist on cancer  is simple....everything happens for a reason.  Without cancer, I wouldn't have the incredibly beautiful life I have today.  I wouldn't have met my greatest friends, I wouldn't have taken risks and followed adventures, and I wouldn't have met my amazing husband Ivan, and had our gorgeous son Ethan.  Cancer gave me life and I work with Twist Out Cancer to help others see the light at the end of what can seem to be a very dark tunnel.  

Dan Hadad Aviad, Toronto, Ontario, Co-Founder of Tempo Space, Board Chair of Twist Out Cancer Canada

Twist On Cancer: 5 years ago I was introduced to cancer, a phone call changed my what was a non existing relationship.

My best friend Jenna called me and crying, told me she was diagnosed with Grey Zone Lymphoma. My world was shattered. 

Not knowing what to say, or do... I did what I knew best, try to lighten the situation. But that only goes so far. 

And then, I was challenged, challenged to join Jenna on the dance floor, a digital dance floor that would create a sense of community, remove a sense of isolation. 

And it worked, thousands responded and twist out cancer was created, creating a community of support for those who feel isolated, and giving their close ones a platform to support them. 

 
Andrew Edelston, Chicago, Illinois, Financial Manager at Morgan Stanley and Treasurer of Twist Out Cancer

Twist on Cancer: After hearing an amazing array of moving stories at the Brushes With Cancer Gala several years ago, I knew I wanted to join the organization. Since getting involved, I’ve been fortunate to work with a wonderful group of inspirational people both supporting and participating in TOC’s programs.As the treasurer, my goals are to maximize the impact of every dollar donated to Brushes With Cancer as well as to ensure we are well positioned to continue supporting those touched by cancer for generations to come.

Noreen Karadsheh, Chicago, Illinois, Director of Sports Medicine-NovaCare Chicago, Secretary of Twist Out Cancer

Mindfulness is my twist on cancer.  Be mindful of those around you and the present moment as beauty, joy and love comes through in the most simplest form.

Tom McNamara, Chicago, Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, Sales, Account Executive at SalesForce, Vice Chair of Twist Out Cancer

Twist on Cancer - Having been touched by cancer through so many close to me at various times in my life, I have grown to understand more of the affects by engaging with others... my story with TOC is very much about the human spirit of resiliency, perseverance, love, empathy and overall desire to connect with others. In no other way have I witnessed the beauty, compassion and eagerness to support others as I have with Twist Out Cancer. The character of individual involved in or in some way tied to and participating in TOC is admirable and has certainly been as much a learning experience for me as it has been an opportunity to help others.

Emma Peck Block, Chicago, Illinois, Social Worker, Member at Large for Executive Board of Twist Out Cancer

Twist On Cancer: I thought that my mom would get kidnapped or in a car accident before she would get cancer. It was never in the narrative of what I imagined of my life. And yet April 9th, 2012 my mom told me she had a lump in her breast and it was cancerous. 

One of the things I learned throughout my mom's treatment was that the friends I kept closest were the ones who  not only asked how my mom was doing but asked how I was doing. These friends validated my fears and my sadness and were present to me during a time of much uncertainty. They were strong for me so I could be present and strong for my mom. I joined the Twist community because we need support in order to restore life to a cancer diagnosis. Healing occurs through connection. The Twist community provided connection and continues to strengthen and heal me even after my mom has been pronounced cancer free. I hope through my role on the board that I can provide for others in Twist community the care that the Twist community has provided me. 

Charleen Recto, Chicago, Illinois, Accountant, Vice Treasurer of Twist Out Cancer

Twist on Cancer: I participated in Brushes with Cancer back in 2013 as a survivor subject. I also participated in 2016 as a caregiver subject. This was to honor my late husband, Jason Bacalan. As a survivor, caregiver and now the widow of my husband, who endured all the devastating effects of cancer, I found solace in being part of Brushes with Cancer and Twist Out Cancer. Brushes with Cancer served as my catharsis. It was a way for me to find purpose and eventually receive healing through talking about my experience with people who were willing to listen. I felt a sense of community and made me realize I wasn’t alone in this journey. I really believe that Twist Out Cancer can empower survivors, caregivers and all those affected by cancer by providing support through the various projects and events the organization offers. I would like to be part of this and fulfill my purpose and provide help, in any way I can, to anyone affected by cancer by being part of the Twist Out family. As part of the Executive Board, I would like to use my experience as a survivor, caregiver and now a widow to come up with more ideas to magnify Twist Out’s reach and be able to expand its presence across the world. I am beyond excited to see what Twist Out Cancer will accomplish and how much more lives will be touched by it.

Advisory Board
Dr. David Turok, Chicago, Ilinois, Dentist/Artist, Chair of Volunteers at Twist Out Cancer

Twist on Cancer: Participating in Brushes with Cancer as an Artist for the past 2 years and bonding with survivors as the subjects of my art pieces has been an unbelievable experience.  As a Dentist, I have also seen my patients deal with cancer from a medical perspective.  The constant between both my patients and art subjects has been the need for a community and support system.  I have never seen an organization like Twist Out Cancer provide such a community.  I am honored and excited to be a part of it.

Alyssa Judlo, Chicago, Illinois, Aritst, Chair of Volunteers at Twist Out Cancer

Twist on Cancer: Having known Jenna from growing up in the same town, I of course followed her documented journey during her battle and cheered her on along the way. I was so inspired by her and the creation of Twist Out Cancer. It was a privilege years later to be a part of the development of what became Brushes with Cancer, participating on the host committee and as an artist over the years. I'm so looking forward to joining the Twist family and continuing to positively contribute to the success of the organization.

August Spree, Pontiac, Michigan, Health Coach/Business Developmen, Chair of Marketing and Communications at Twist Out Cancer

Twist on Cancer: Igot involved with Twist the very moment I first stepped into Chez at the April 2014 Brushes event. I was moved to tears watching the presentation that night and looking at the art. I walked up to Jenna and said, "Hi, my name is August and you don't know me but we are going to be friends." I was so deeply moved by how personal the connections were. It all felt very intimate, and that made it even more beautiful. I have always believed that art is so healing, but when I saw what Twist was doing in such a personal way, I knew that I wanted to help somehow.What I hope to achieve now is primarily assisting with the Brushes events in particular. I have, in particular, been excited about the upcoming launch of Brushes in Tel Aviv since I have been there 12 times and have dear friends and connections there.

Erin Green, Chicago, Illinois, Fulltime Caregiver and Mother, Chair of Donor Relations at Twist Out Cancer

Twist on Cancer: Caregiver. A word that can take on many different meanings and not one I ever expected to use to describe myself. It's a hard role...a very hard role but one I'm thankful to be able to do. My husband's fight with cancer has been a roller coaster of emotions, of periods of health and sickness, of happiness and frustration. But I would never want to hand this role over to someone else. I want to be there with him every step of the way. It makes me feel like I'm doing everything I can to beat this disease. That, along with the support of my friends, family, and faith, enables me to believe that we will win this fight. It gets me through this, one day at at time. 

 
Jennifer Katz Margolis, London, England, Change Management Consultant
My twist on cancer: From the age of 13 when a good friend was diagnosed with Leukemia, I'd always known that I wanted to find a way to help those afflicted by cancer.  I've never forgotten the healing power of staying by the side of a close friend or loved one to provide support and comfort in a time of uncertainty.  After witnessing first-hand the positive impact that the mind and willpower can have on physical manifestations of disease, I know how important it is to surround oneself with a positive outlet and support system.  I believe that no one should fight or cope alone, especially in a time that we can reach one another via social media in myriad ways.  In my role with Twist Out Cancer, I've had the good fortune of meeting people who I'd never otherwise have met and who have enriched my life in more ways than I can count.  I make it a goal to return the favor to those touched by cancer.
Deb Fox, Chicago, Illinois, Higher Education, Fundraising & Special Events
My twist on cancer: Cancer has been part of my life from a young age -- having many family and friends who have been touched by this disease. I am grateful to be part of an organization and a community that provides support through various programs and mechanisms for those touched by Cancer. 
Support Staff
Jillian Rogers, Philadelphia, PA, Student at St. Joseph's, Campus Liasion at Twist Out Cancer

Twist on Cancer: There is hope in each day. Find hope, create hope, spread hope. It will empower you and others.

Chibuzor Ugwu (Nickname: Chu), Philadelphia, PA, Pre-Med Student at the Univeristy of Pennsylvania College of Arts and Sciences, Social Media and Marketing Liasion at Twist Out Cancer

Twist on Cancer- I had been blissfully ignorant to the crippling horrors of cancer until relatively recently in my life. My junior year of high school, my team captain’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer; my teammates and I watched the heart and soul  of our team have his world shattered. We knew we couldn’t possibly understand what he was going through, but we helped him the best way we knew how. We comforted him and his family. We showed them love and empathy. And we dedicated every game we played and every win we secured to his mother. The smile we’d see on his face as he told us how happy his mom was hearing how hard we fought for her was everything.Twist Out Cancer embodies all these things. The love an empathy. The strength, and sense of community and togetherness. It shows the importance of unity and human compassion. I am eager to both make a difference and learn through Twist Out Cancer.