Tag Archives: Sy’s Fund

More than one way to shine a light on lung cancer

On Tuesday night, November 13th, I joined my friend Lorraine Kerz in Keene, NH for a special Shine A Light on Lung Cancer Vigil sponsored by the Lung Cancer Alliance. One of many taking place across the country, it was a modest, grass roots affair–a far cry from the original Shine A Light, which took place in Boston on the same evening. The event in Keene was outdoors, our lights were glow sticks, and there was a two to one ratio of audience to speakers. Taped to the front of the podium was a picture of Lorraine’s son Silas. Lorraine spoke about his tragic death from lung cancer at the age of 29 and how his passing motivated her to become an advocate for young adults with cancer. I also shared my own story, and concluded with what I hoped to be a rallying cry to action. However, it is important to know your audience, and this small crowd would have been better served by some basic information about lung cancer. No matter; Lorraine and her friend Kim, who helped organize the event, are to be applauded for their contribution to raising awareness and I am so glad I was able to attend.

Tonight there will be another event designed to bring greater awareness to lung cancer, and this one will be huge. Organized by my (amazing) friend Christine Dwyer, a mutual friend of ours, Lynne Eldridge, has written a moving article about the event for About.com Lung Cancer. I asked Lynne for permission to repost the article here, which she graciously granted:

Niagra Falls: ready to be lit up for lung cancer!

“The Falls Will Be White for Lung Cancer Awareness 2012

Thanks to one solitary person with tsunami-like vision, Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2012 will again be celebrated by a lighting of the falls.
On November 16, 2012, Niagara Falls will be lit up in white for lung cancer. Not once, but twice.

Last year I shared the story of how this came to be. A story that transcends the event, transcends the waterfall, and transcends even lung cancer awareness month. The story about how a single person who wants to make a difference, and doesn’t say “I can’t,” can help each of us who hears it begin to say “I can.” I know I felt that way after hearing Christine Dwyers story. You can read it here:

The Birth of “Illuminate the Falls for Lung Cancer Awareness”
This year, on November 16, 2012 from 8:00 to 8:15 and again from 9:00 to 9:15 Eastern Standard Time the falls will be illuminated in honor of Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

If you get a chance to attend the event, dress warmly. You can watch the display from Niagara Falls State Park, NY, or from Niagara State Park, Ontario, Canada.

But the really cool thing is that anyone, anywhere in the world can take part in this event via live webcam.

Links for the live feed:

American Falls Live Webcam

Niagara Falls Webcam

Falls View Cam

Last year, despite the cold chill of November, Christine described the event as almost spiritual. As I remember her excitement, the thought keeps coming to my mind; what would happen if each of us lived the quote that Christine shared last year? “If you don’t like something, do something to change it.”

Christine has lived up to that quote. The event last year was driven by her realization about lung cancer – that it affects far too many people; people from every walk of life. Having lost her step grandfather, step dad, and best friend from the disease, she founded “Make Some Noise for Lung Cancer Awareness.” Most recently, and after arranging for Niagara Falls to be lit again for lung cancer this year, her dear mother has also been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. As she stands in the cold — but with a warm heart – watching the falls lit up this Friday, please hold her in your virtual arms.”

So, hats off to everyone who turns passion into action. Christine, who thinks not just big but loud, also hosts a site called Make Some Noise for Lung Cancer. I like her style!

Lorraine, it was so good to see you again. Lynne, thanks for lending me your words! And Jemesii, happy birthday!!!

An incredible honor for an amazing friend

A year and a half ago I met Lorraine Kerz at the annual Lung Cancer Alliance conference for advocacy, held in Washington, DC. Soft spoken, pretty and petite, Lorraine moves with a slight tremor and my initial impression was of fragility. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

Lorraine became an advocate after losing her son Silas to lung cancer in 2008. Silas was only twenty-nine years old. Diagnosed at stage IV with multiple bone metastases, Silas went through hell, and his mom was right there with him. A photographer and sometime journalist, Silas documented bits of his brutally brief yet poignant journey. Later, Lorraine edited this footage, creating a short documentary.

And she didn’t stop there. Lorraine was keenly aware of how Silas used his photography and story making skills as a meaningful coping mechanism, and she created Sy’s Fund as a way to “help young adults with cancer by funding their creative passions, pursuits, and hobbies as well as integrative therapies such as acupuncture, reflexology, and therapeutic massage.”

Lorraine Kerz is fierce, and one of finest people I know. Brave, determined, unstoppable; she has mined her deep well of grief for the greater good. Several days ago I received this email from Lorraine:

The video documentary, “The Man Behind Sy’s Fund” has been selected to be shown at the online global filmfest, “We Speak Here.” This is a huge honor & an amazing way to share Sy’s life and how he dealt with cancer as a young adult. Please click on the link below and take a few minutes to watch the video; we were actually number one most watched over the weekend! Pass along to others you feel may benefit or be interested in seeing the video as well. Thank you ~ Lorraine


Silas “Sy” River Bennett was determined to make a difference, and out of respect for the wishes of her beloved son, Lorraine has gone on to do just that. When an individual has cancer, the primary focus is on healing the body. If we are not careful, our sense of self can go missing, and young adults, most of whom have just begun to find their way in the world, are incredibly vulnerable. Sy’s Fund takes into account some simple things that can restore dignity and nurture spirit, recognizing that emotional and physical strength go hand in hand.

Hat’s off to you Lorraine, and congratulations on this well deserved honor. You have used your hard earned experience to bring awareness to young adults with cancer; a population that only grows in numbers. Hopefully this recognition will drive financial support the way of Sy’s Fund:  I know you’d like nothing better than to have the opportunity to grant each and every request that comes your way.