The Willow Foundation provides Metastatic Cancer researchers interested in studying complementary therapies such as diet, exercise and mindset with funding to help increase the likelihood of remission, improve patient life expectancy and improve quality of life.
While traditional and emerging cancer treatment includes vital pharmacological interventions, we believe that optimal nutrition and complementary care can dramatically increase the quantity and quality of life, helping to lead many stage-four cancer patients to remission. The research on complementary care is mostly anecdotal, and most nutrition and lifestyle research focuses on cancer prevention. Additionally, advanced cancer is chronically underfunded. As an example, less than 7% of funding for breast cancer research is allocated to advanced stage therapies. Nutrition and complementary treatments are rarely funded as their yield for profit is limited. There is emerging and compelling research that correlates lifestyle and dietary approaches during cancer treatment with an increased chance for survival and remission. Our goal is to provide funding to researchers who focus their research on these therapies for advanced stage cancer in order to bring light to the best equation for optimal survival.
Meet Leah and Janine
Hi! I’m Leah. I’m a Registered Dietitian and Certified Exercise Physiologist. I work as the Global Employer Brand and Wellbeing Director at Marriott International, am a former officer in the United States Army Reserves and a graduate of the Georgetown McDonough School of Business. I am also a stage-4 breast cancer THRIVER. What that means is that at the time of diagnosis, cancer had entered my bloodstream and had spread to other, vital internal organs. What it also means is that I will forever be in treatment and will never be “cured”.
In the summer of 2017, I completed four months of aggressive chemotherapy and have had the best possible response to treatments. Outside of losing my hair and other predictable side-effects, I have had very minimal complications. I have been able to work throughout treatments have been active, have traveled and have maintained perfect labs, and have thrived. Although my cancer has a 98% mortality rate, more and more patients are living longer due to advances in drug therapy and increased treatment options.
What we don’t know is why some people respond to treatment and live long lives and some don’t. I attribute my initial successes to a pretty diligent lifestyle based on the limited research connecting diet, exercise and mindset to improved cancer outcomes. After scouring the internet and emailing with cancer dietitians and specialists around the country, we still couldn’t come up with best practices for cancer patients that help improve the quality and quantity of their years. While there are some researchers out there connecting the dots between our own behaviors and response to treatments, funding is limited. My own oncologists weren’t able to provide me with insights on how to “live” post diagnosis. In my mind, relying on medicine alone is just not enough.
In response, my best friend Janine and I have setup The Willow Foundation. Janine's an Exercise Physiologist, and is passionate about natural living. Our foundation supports research efforts that help connect our behaviors with improved outcomes for advanced and late-stage cancer patients. Our goal is to raise money to support research that improves and extends the lives of these patients. We are vetting these researchers in search of promising data that can potentially improve outcomes in conjunction with traditional cancer therapy.
When someone's been faced with a life-altering diagnosis, many people turn to those things they know will help them thrive. They may pray, travel, or spend time with loved ones. They may change their diet or lifestyle. Many of us simply want to have some control over our outcome. We believe that our lifestyle plays a role in life extension and quality of life. Help us learn more about how we can live longer and thrive with advanced cancer.