About No Stomach For Cancer
In 1982 Elaine Kuck Chelcun died of gastric cancer. She was 52. Elaine left behind her husband, Fred, and four children.
In 2007 Elaine’s son Greg, 56, was diagnosed with Stage IV gastric cancer. Greg passed away on February 8, 2009, leaving behind his wife, Cindy, and two children: Brian and Johanna.
Greg’s diagnosis caused his sister Karen to investigate whether genetics might have played a role in the re-appearance of gastric cancer in their family. It had. Testing revealed that the Chelcuns shared a rare genetic cancer syndrome: HDGC.
Sadly, this discovery came too late for Elaine and too late for Greg. Other members of the family, however, underwent prophylactic total gastrectomies – and in each case, post-surgical testing revealed the presence of undetected cancer in their stomachs. These members of the Chelcun family – along with families worldwide who share this condition – owe their lives to those who have chosen to study HDGC and to spread awareness about the importance of genetic testing.
NSFC: The Early Efforts
During Greg’s illness, Karen and Cindy designed a wristband to symbolize their solidarity and to share with extended family and friends. The family adopted the words Kia Kaha, which means be strong in the face of challenge, or stand strong in the language of the Maori (mou-ree) people of New Zealand, where HDGC was first identified and where research continues to be strong.
Be Strong Hearted became a source of strength for the family, and it propelled the Chelcuns to expand the scope of their efforts. It became clear that to combat this devastating disease much needs to be done in terms of education and awareness, and significant funds need to be raised to support research. In July 2008 the Chelcuns spearheaded a fundraising effort within the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin: The Be Strong Hearted® Campaign of The Chelcun Family Fund For Stomach Cancer Research. Karen launched the first version of this website, known at the time as BeStrongHearted.org. Initially created to share information about HDGC with interested family and friends, it became a resource for people affected by stomach cancer everywhere.
Growth Beyond All Expectations
The website drew visitors from all over the globe, almost immediately. Messages started arriving from other families in the same discovery process, often triggered by the tragic and early death of a family member. These families were struggling in their searches for information and support, just as the Chelcuns had.
The Be Strong Hearted® Campaign garnered attention from the media and from medical and genetics professionals and researchers worldwide. The Campaign was off to a spectacular start, raising funds for the advancement of critical research, and creating a support network for providing reliable, accurate information for affected families.
Establishment of No Stomach For Cancer, Inc.
Tremendous response to the website and to The Be Strong Hearted® Campaign made one thing clear: in order to make a real difference, it was time to move beyond the family. It was time to establish a nonprofit organization with broad public support and governance, one that would continue to serve and support with or without the Chelcun Family.
As we learned more about all forms of stomach cancer the tremendous need for awareness, education, early detection, prevention, and funding for stomach cancer research, and supporting those affected by stomach cancer (patients, family and friends) became quite clear. It was shocking to learn that stomach cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide…
Accordingly, No Stomach For Cancer, Inc. (NSFC) was founded in September 2009.
NSFC undertook immediate international fundraising for stomach cancer research, and will continue the Chelcun Family’s effort to provide resources and support for families worldwide affected by stomach cancer.
NSFC lovingly dedicates its mission to Elaine Kuck Chelcun, to Greg Chelcun, and to all around the world who have lost their lives and their loved ones to stomach cancer. We honor those fighting this unique challenge today.