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Dublin High School Sophomore Honors His Mother by Organizing Breast Cancer Fundraiser

October 24, 2013

Boo Bie Scare Halloween Breast Cancer FundraiserBreast cancer is spreading at an alarming rate. We have been told that this condition is affecting one in eight women in the United States – an alarming rate. For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of a young high school student. Your mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Immediately, the family is upside-down, yet the daily functions of the family need to carry on. However, this story includes a positive outcome and a Dublin family was willing to share their story. Under this backdrop, OneDublin.org had the pleasure of attending the “Boo!..Bie Scare Halloween Breast Cancer Fundraiser” on Friday, October 18, at the Pleasanton Masonic Center.

In August 2012, Madeleine (Maddie) Romero-Salas, mother of Matthew and Inigo, felt a lump on her left breast. She confirmed this discovery with her husband, Ignacio. She immediately scheduled a mammogram and an ultrasound. The results didn’t look good. It seemed that she also had some enlarged auxiliary lymph nodes. The results from the first biopsy prompted a PET/CT Scan. The results were the same as the initial scan, however, they found an additional lump on her left ovary. The resulting diagnosis moved the family to decide upon a chemotherapy treatment which commenced in October, 2012. Thus, this commenced a lengthy journey of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. While Maddie’s treatment required the removal of several lymph nodes, it also required continuing doses of Tamoxifen for several years to come. This story is being told simply because a Dublin student and a loving son decided to turn a personal challenge into an event that would benefit many others. While Matthew Romero-Salas is at the heart of this story, the primary benefactor of his efforts is the Sandra J. Wing Healing Therapies Foundation.

“The Foundation” supports many of hundreds of healing therapies and treatment options. The focus is on five therapies: Acupuncture, Acupressure, Therapeutic Massage, Guided/Visual Imagery and Deep Breathing Meditation. Sandra Wing is a dual cancer survivor. In 2008, she founded a foundation that provides funds so that cancer patients can experience the immediate benefit of complementary therapies to help alleviate the side effects caused by radiation and chemotherapy. OneDublin.org had the opportunity to visit with Ms. Wing and here are her responses:

OneDublin.org: Please explain how you came in contact with the Romero-Salas family. Did Maddie benefit from your services?

Breast Cancer Fundraiser Sandra WingSandra Wing: “Matthew called and emailed. He sought out our Foundation (and me!). It is my understanding that Maddie did not benefit from our services as she did not apply for funds. However, Matthew wanted to find a local cancer charity for his service project and he also wanted to honor his mom for the cancer battle she went through.

As I said, when I spoke the other night, I was so impressed by this young man and his leadership. I wanted to support and applaud him immediately. And, being at the event on Friday night only endorsed my initial impression! I was genuinely touched by his wanting to “give back” and I was honored that he chose our charity.”

OneDublin.org: On an annualized basis, help us understand how many cancer patients are benefiting from your foundation and in what ways?

Wing: “Our current annualized pace is 180 patients. That number has gone up tremendously over the past four years! In our first fiscal year 2009-2010 we helped two patients a month (24 that year). This fiscal year 2013-2014 we are pacing at 15 patients a month (for 180 this year).”

OneDublin.org: Cancer does not discriminate – it can impact patients of any age or from any socioeconomic plane. What motivated you to take action in developing your foundation?

Wing: “You are correct! And, one of the things rarely talked about is the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis! Many people do not realize that either the cancer patient or the caregiver (sometimes both) reduce their work hours, thus their income. Not to mention the fact of all the extra expenses with co-pays, parking fees at the hospital or an appointment, prescriptions, etc.

“I was motivated because I went through harsh chemotherapy treatments and I sought out the very therapies we pay for because they helped me a great deal. They helped me stay the course (so that I had enough energy to complete the toxic treatments). They helped me stay positive and energized. They helped reduce my nausea and improve my appetite. They helped me with many things and these are just a few of the benefits!”

OneDublin.org: Having supported so many cancer patients over the years, do any of them return to help your foundation? Please expand.

Wing: “Yes, we have been blessed by some patients, as well as their caregivers, desiring to give back in the way of volunteering. Others that we have helped, have donated when they became financial able to do so (after returning to work). Others have encouraged and have referred those they know to apply for funds when they were diagnosed with cancer. And, others participate by attending or supporting our fundraising events.”

We now move to the specifics of the Pleasanton Chapter Order of DeMolay event that occurred last Friday. The event was well attended and organized with at least 80 supporters in the house. We wanted to get closer to the details of this event and how it all came to be. It all started with Matt Romero-Salas.

OneDublin.org: How and why did you select the Sandra Wing Foundation to benefit from your fundraiser? Was this a requirement of your service and how has your participation in the DHS band program influenced you?

Dublin High School Student Matt Romero-SalasMatt Romero-Salas: “When I joined DeMolay in 2011, I couldn’t wait to become a Senior Councilor so that I could tackle fundraising projects for Autism, as my brother was diagnosed in 2003. When I was elected as Senior Councilor, my mom had already been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“As a Senior Councilor, we are asked to do a project of our choice. I chose Breast Cancer because of my mom’s diagnosis, also because it was appropriate for October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I wanted to donate the proceeds to a local foundation but I wasn’t aware of any at that time. I mentioned to my parents the fundraising project that I wanted to tackle and they suggested the Sandra J. Wing Healing Therapies Foundation. I was also attracted to this option because the American Cancer Society has become a very big organization and I wanted to donate to something that people in our community could benefit from. Being in band has helped me cope with what we were going through. Mr. Everts was the first teacher I told about my mom having cancer last year and from that point on he became like a father outside of home. He was always very concerned and he would always ask how my mom was doing. Mr. Everts even gave me the opportunity to perform a ballad for my mom at “Jazzin’ for a Cure” last May, which allowed me to express my feelings for my mom through music which I was never able to do through words.”

OneDublin.org: In the program, you made the statement that you chose to take action and to be an advocate. Having witnessed your mother battle breast cancer, what has this journey taught you?

Romero-Salas: “The journey of seeing my mother battle breast cancer taught me that you can’t take anything for granted, it taught me that life is a fragile thing and you have to make the best of it. You can’t sit around depending on someone else to do everything for you. What I’m really trying to say is that the only real way to make a difference, is to get involved, and the more involved you get, the more of a difference you’ll make.”

OneDublin.org: It would have been difficult to pull off this event by yourself. What would you like to express to your fellow volunteers and businesses?

Romero-Salas: “I’d like to take this opportunity to give a big “thank you!” to everyone who helped make the event not only a possibility but a success. Finally, I would just like to add a quote that seems appropriate in this interview: ‘Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.’ ~Winston Churchill”

Boo!…Bie Scare was a remarkable and very memorable event. OneDublin.org would like to commend Mr. Matthew Romero-Salas, his family, friends and supporters for hosting a very meaningful night. In the end, the Sandra Wing Healing Therapies Foundation will benefit many cancer fighters partially in due to the funds that were raised Friday night. We commend the Foundation, Order of DeMolay and the Romero-Salas family for their collective efforts.

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2 Comments
  1. October 24, 2013 7:34 am

    Great job Matthew in sharing your love for your mother, while helping so many others! You gave a venue for people to SEE and HELP “love” grow. We all need to do what we can to show ‘love.’ Love is a verb and Matthew what you did (continue to do) is to show the ACTION of Love. Thank you to all my students who supported Matthew with this wonderful project. GREAT STORY onedublin.org. Thank you for continuing to shine the POSITIVE light on our community.

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