Andrea Eidelman (front center) celebrating with stomach cancer advocates during Debbie’s Dream Foundation’s 8th Annual Stomach Cancer Capitol Hill Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. in February 2020.
Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Eidelman.
Andrea, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am currently the CEO of Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer (DDF), and I’ve helped to lead the organization for the past three years. DDF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks as its ultimate goal to make the cure for stomach cancer a reality. It was founded in 2009 by Debbie Zelman after she was diagnosed with stage IV incurable gastric cancer in 2008 and given only weeks to live.
Debbie is considered a pioneer by many for bringing awareness to the plight of stomach cancer patients worldwide and the lack of federal funding for stomach cancer research. She did all of this while receiving hundreds of rounds of chemo, in addition to daily oral treatments. Debbie passed away on December 23, 2017, at the age of 50, almost a decade later. As a result of her leadership, DDF now has a Scientific and Medical Advisory Board of world-renowned doctors and chapters throughout the United States and in Canada and Germany. DDF strives to continue Debbie’s mission and make her dream a reality. To learn more about DDF, please visit www.DebbiesDream.org.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My passion has always been to do the kind work that makes a difference in the lives of others, so working with DDF has been extremely rewarding, yet there are challenges that we must constantly work to overcome. For example, stomach cancer is the least federally funded cancer type and is the fifth deadliest cancer. As a result, DDF has traveled to Washington, D.C. since 2013 for our Annual Stomach Cancer Capitol Hill Advocacy Day, where we meet with Congressional officials to share stories of those personally affected by stomach cancer. We advocate for stomach cancer each year in hopes that our lawmakers will bring more attention to the disease and more funding to research so that we can one day find a cure for this disease.
Our advocacy efforts have led to many developments throughout the years, including more than $18 million of federal funds being allocated to stomach cancer research over the past five years, and the continual inclusion of stomach cancer in the federal spending budget. Most recently, in December 2019, Congress passed spending bills for FY 2020 which contains the strongest language to date by designating stomach cancer as a priority for the National Cancer Institute to develop a framework for stomach cancer and to place a strong emphasis on early detection through FY 2021. These changes have been the direct result of our advocacy efforts, which is why advocacy is at the heart of our mission.
We’d love to hear more about your organization.
Debbie’s Dream Foundation is the leading stomach cancer support organization in North America. We provide support and free education for stomach cancer patients, their families, and caregivers through our Patient Resource Education Program (PREP). Through PREP, we produce free stomach cancer educational webinars and symposia throughout the year where we partner with world renown oncologists, medical experts, and other professionals to provide information to patients and caregivers on a variety of topics which affect them.
We also provide mentorship for patients and caregivers through a mentor matching program which provides peer to peer support for those looking to others to help them navigate their diagnosis. We currently have a total of 29 chapters throughout the country, and including in Canada and Germany, where others who are equally passionate about raising awareness and funds for research help spread our mission in their local areas by hosting fundraisers and providing support to others who may be in need.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Everything that we do moving forward is to further Debbie’s mission of one day finding a cure for stomach cancer. We do this by continuing to raise awareness about this disease and how it is increasingly affecting younger populations, especially in the Latin American communities; hosting fundraisers throughout the year such as our upcoming 11th Annual Dream Makers Gala on April 18th at the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort; directly funding stomach cancer research (we have funded $1 million in research to date); educating patients and caregivers through our FREE Stomach Cancer Educational Webinars and Symposia, and continuing to advocate for stomach cancer by making our lawmakers aware of the changes that need to continue to take place until we have a cure.
We’re also looking forward to expanding our reach and gaining wider support for our mission. Our base has typically been in the Broward area for many of our Florida events. More recently, we began to venture out and host events in the Miami and Palm Beach areas.
We look forward to making Debbie’s Dream Foundation the leading support and advocacy organization for all things stomach cancer-related.
- 11th Annual Dream Makers Gala – April 18, 2020 @ Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort – Tickets are $200 and up/Sponsorship are available and auction items are appreciated. Register at https://debbiesdream.org/events/11th-annual-dream-makers-gala/.
- DDF’s FREE Monthly Stomach Cancer Support Groups – Held every first Friday of the month in partnership with Catholic Hospice and open to patients and caregivers. Register at https://debbiesdream.org/events/monthly-stomach-cancer-support-groups/.
- Free Stomach Cancer Educational Webinar – Molecular Biomarkers: Knowing Your Tumor on March 13, 2020. Register: https://debbiesdream.org/events/webinar-molecular-biomarkers-knowing-your-tumor/.
- Address: Two South University Drive, Suite 326
Plantation, Florida 33324
- Website: www.debbiesdream.org
- Phone: 9544751200
- Email: info@DebbiesDream.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/debbiesdreamfoundation/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DebbiesDreamFoundation/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/StomachCancer_
Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer, Dream Focus Photography