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November 1, 2011

Svetlana’s Story: A Reason to “Give to the Max”

By: Stacy England, Special Events Director

Six days a week, Food & Friends’ staff and volunteers prepare and home-deliver healthy meals to thousands of our neighbors in need – but you know that.

As supporters of Food & Friends, you’ve heard the details of our service: how more than 1.2 million meals will be prepared and delivered this year, that we serve individuals and families in DC, Maryland and Virginia, and that the menus our dietitians and chefs create are specialized to meet the health needs of each client.

What you may not know is the personal struggle our clients face – behind closed doors. If one of our clients was to invite you in, you would see children preparing dinner because mom is too tired from chemo, partners embracing because they know the end is near, home-care nurses providing their AIDS patients with love because there are no family members to care for them. The meals that you make possible not only provide nourishment, but ease the burden of whether to pay for food or medicine that month, deciding who will ensure meals are prepared regularly, and choosing what to feed a loved one who feels too ill to eat.

Svetlana lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and is fighting an incurable cancer while also caring for her husband. Her letter to Food & Friends opens the door to her struggles and allows you to see inside:

Dear Food & Friends,

Stricken with lymphoma, an incurable cancer of the blood, I underwent CHOP chemotherapy hoping for remission, however temporary.  But after the second of the six prescribed debilitating cycles, I collapsed, which led to the devastating awareness that I had lost the use of my legs: I could no longer walk, no longer take care even of myself.

The paralysis of my limbs – hands too but to a somewhat lesser degree –  was caused by one of the chemotherapy toxins which was administered to me by a physician who shouldn’t have been unaware of the strong FDA warning against administering this particular toxin to patients with underlining CMT syndrome.  I learned this through the Internet. Too late, unfortunately. 

Two retirees, myself with wet macular degeneration causing legal blindness in my right eye, and my husband suffering from diabetes, thus became acutely aware that they are faced with material ruin as well.

Seeing me helpless in a wheelchair, my husband fell into deep depression and ended up in a psychiatric clinic, and I was left to my own devices.  I signed up with Hospice Home Care and a lady came three times a week to help me wash myself.

In these dark days of our lives, Food & Friends came to our rescue, feeding me and later my husband as well with nutritious food and untiring care, friendliness and professionalism.

I praise the Lord and Food & Friends, that my husband has gotten out of depression, and I began to take care of myself without the help of Hospice Home Care . . . I praise Food & Friends for finding the physical and emotional strength to recently undergo a second round of chemotherapy along with cataract surgery in my ‘good eye’.

Food & Friends, God bless them all, have brought myself and my husband back to life and have strengthened our faith in selfless people on this Earth.


I hope this letter provides a small sense of the struggles and hardship our clients face each and every day. The deliveries you make possible provide so much more than just the healthy foods needed to combat their illness and energy to undergo continued treatments. Each delivery is a life-line, a path to self-sufficiency, and hope that tomorrow will be better than today.

If reading Svetlana’s story stirs in you a sense of compassion and commitment to your neighbors in need, I encourage you to take action and join Food & Friends for the 1st Annual Give to the Max Day on Wednesday, November 9th.

Give to the Max Day is a one-day fundraising event that will unite the local community in support of the nonprofits serving our area. The goal is to get 35,000 people to donate to their favorite charity through, raising more than $3 million in just 24 hours. So far, more than 850 organizations have signed up and more than $100,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the organizations that raise the largest amount of money or receive the highest number of donations on November 9th.

We are proud to be a part of this day of giving and we ask that you make a gift on November 9th in support of Svetlana and the thousands more who rely on Food & Friends.

We will announce the start of the day via email. If you do not currently receive emails from Food & Friends, please sign up. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook  – we’ll be providing updates on our success throughout the day.

Thank you for your past and future support and for delivering hope, one meal at a time!

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