It’s Just Benign: Connecting Benign Brain Tumor Survivors Everywhere
ITS JUST BENIGN EDUCATES SHOPPERS AT THE MENLO PARK MALL
On Wednesday November 14, 2012 It’s Just Benign set out to spread its message to the shoppers at Menlo Park Mall in Edison, NJ. Four benign brain tumor survivors and one supporter spent the day educating the public about the serious consequences of a benign brain tumor, as well as introducing them to “It’s Just Benign” ( IJB ). IJB is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of making a positive difference for benign brain tumor survivors and their loved ones, as well as educating the community about this often misunderstood diagnosis.
I met up with my mom at 9:30am that morning at the Community Booth at Menlo Mall, and she helped me set up. Once the IJB sign was out and the literature was in place, we started focusing on education. My mom and I had a great time together. We are both people persons and find it easy to get someone’s attention. Early on we were successfully getting people to sign the mailing list so that they can receive the quarterly email newsletters and also so we can send them contribution envelopes.
Time passed quickly and at 11:30 the next volunteer showed up. Maggie B, a fellow IJB member and survivor, schlepped from Manhattan to Edison. I was excited and thrilled to meet another survivor who believes in It’s Just Benign’s mission. Maggie is so nice. We had a great time yapping and comparing notes. Not long after Maggie arrived, Pam K. arrived. It was like we all knew each other forever. We had a great time talking however, I needed to remind everyone that we were there to educate. Talking was fine but, I didn’t want us to lose focus.
The time passed by really quickly. Pam needed to get back to work and left around two. Maggie left at 3:30 and the last survivor/volunteer arrived a few minutes after Maggie left. Dan stayed with me until five, and at that time we started cleaning up.
I think the day was a major success. I met another survivor, we had more volunteers than usual, and we also found a number of locals who were interested in volunteering, donating, or supporting It’s Just Benign in whatever way they could.
IJB SPREADS ITS MESSAGE TO TEXAS
On September 21 I flew to Texas to meet up with one of our It’s Just Benign members Candy Wilson. Candy is involved in producing a concert/variety show fundraiser for brain tumor research for the NBTS. She was kind enough to invite me down for the weekend to help bring attention to It’s Just Benign. Candy and her husband Pete greeted me up at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport that Friday, and provided a very nice, furnished house for me to stay. I loved the house so much that I told them I would someday make it my vacation home! What great hosts they were. I had a wonderful and memorable stay.
The first night in Texas we ate at a place known as Wilson’s favorite Tex-Mex restaurant. What a great first Tex-Mex experience! Candy then showed me where the concert was going to be the following night. We enjoyed seeing her months of preparation pay off in bright lights as an announcement at The Plaza Theater. We then went back to their home, chatted, and played with their two Dalmatians. Normally I fear dogs but, these two were precious!
I woke up on Saturday excited about the concert. It was such a nice morning. Pete picked up for me my favorite coffee and Candy stocked up the house with food and snacks. After getting ready and having breakfast, I went out to run errands with Candy & Pete. We received a very exciting phone call before I started beautifying myself for the night’s event. IJB member Dianne Bonswell called and said she was going to meet us at the concert. I was so excited to meet another IJB member. I focused on getting ready and making sure I had all of It’s Just Benign’s literature for IJB’s promotion table.
Pete and I picked up dinner at 4pm for the cast and crew and then headed to the Plaza Theater in Garland, TX. The theater was crowded with the performers, crew, and supporters. I knew it was going to be an exciting event. Candy organized 12 acts and managed to get Fox 4’s Chip Waggoner to Emcee the event. I started organizing my table once we arrived. I had a bite to eat before watching the performers, and then attempted to relax before I would be called up on stage. The first act was great. There were singers, dancers, a violin, etc. I went to my table during intermission to connect with people.
In addition to speaking with IJB member Dianne, I also met other brain tumor survivors in Texas. Candy is in a group called Grey Matters and I met survivors and loved ones from that group. Everyone seemed so nice. I’m not sure why it is so difficult to meet survivors in NJ and the tri-state area because there are so many survivors here. Maybe that will change.
Chip interviewed me after the conclusion of the first performers during the second act. He asked me why I started It’s Just Benign and asked how it’s helping survivors. It went very quickly. It was very exciting and extremely generous of Candy to include IJB.
I stayed in Texas two more nights and on Sunday I saw family friends formerly from New Jersey that now live in Dallas. I haven’t seen them in six years. It was a really nice day with them. That night Candy, Pete, and I went out to eat.
Candy and Pete are such a cute couple and they are very nice. I wish they lived closer. I flew out early the next morning. Pete took me to the airport and I said my goodbyes.
It was a really nice weekend. My first trip as an It’s Just Benign representative was a blast and I hope I get to meet more IJB members.
JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute 5 K Walk/Run
On Sunday, July 29th, JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute held a 5 K Walk/Run to benefit the Center for Head Injuries. The event, known as “Miles for Minds”, had a great turnout, with over 400 people supporting the event. It’s Just Benign, Inc. played an active role in educating attendees of the event on the severity of benign brain tumors. Representing It’s Just Benign were Survivor and IJB member Pam K., who volunteered her time for the day, as well as member & supporter Beth D., and It’s Just Benign’s founder and childhood benign brain tumor survivor Beth Rosenthal, along with her mother Judith W. Rosenthal.
Editor’s Note: Beautiful weather contributed to the exceptional turnout of the walk/race participates. IJB made some connections with the local Starbucks (who donated coffee for the day) and also connected to the event coordinator for radio station MAGIC 98.3. Several social workers at JFK were also interested in It’s Just Benign coming into the hospital and helping benign brain tumor survivors. What a terrific idea
Member and supporter Beth Dell, Founder Beth Rosenthal, and survivor Pamela Kline
Testimonial“In March 2011, I had the pleasure of meeting Beth and covering her story in a feature article within New Jersey’s Asbury Park Press newspaper. The details of her years of struggle with a benign tumor were incredibly moving and her unprecedented actions to found the organization It’s Just Benign — in an attempt to reach out and create a caring community of benign tumor survivors worldwide who can provide strength and support to each other — have been truly courageous and inspiring. It’s Just Benign has since evolved into a primary source of up-to-the-minute information and resources related to this often debilitating and previously little-publicized condition. Throughout her personal and professional journey, Beth has sparked her own inner light and found a strength, resolve, and creativity she never knew she had. She is a wonderful role model for anyone who has triumphed over adversity and I am proud and honored to call her a colleague and friend.”
Susan Bloom, Freelance Writer for —
The Asbury Park Press
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