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Memorial-3/18 Joana’s Purpose, Life, and Message

$555raised of $4,000 goal
13%

Organizer: Denise Murray-Leitz Beneficiary: National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) - Cancer education

Prior to Joana's passing, a promise was made to her and her husband Tom that I would tell Joana’s story and continue to tell her story to reach out to others to help prevent cancer.

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Fundraiser Details

Joana was born March 18, 1985 in the Philippines where she lived until she found her soul mate in 2009, Thomas (Tom). 

In late 2010, Tom and Joana and Tom were married on 05/08/2010 then returned to the states 09/2010.  Shortly after they took their vows, they had carefully planned to have a child, praying for a son, to be born on Tom’s birthday, September 1st.  Joana and Tom were very close on their planning, Baby Thomas was born September 05, 2011. 

Tom and Joana spoke in depth about “purpose” when Joana was shortly diagnosed with Stage 4 Cervical Cancer after Baby Thomas was born.  Joana and Tom firmly believed their relationship and their journey from the Philippines to the states were all in God’s plans so Joana could seek the medical attention that she received that gave her, her husband and Baby Thomas more time together and a story to share with those that are fortunate enough to hear it. 

Tom shares, “If we didn’t get married and come here Joana may have died without our paths crossing.  Because we did, I was able to take care of her and we had our son, Baby Thomas.”  Joana firmly believed even through her battle that she considers it a blessing and would always look at things positively, not negatively.

After post-delivery of Baby Thomas, Joana had noticed swollen lymph nodes in her neck.  In 12/2011, they believed it was skin cancer and then head and neck lymphoma.  It wasn’t until 01/2012 that the cancer was accurately diagnosed as cervical cancer, unfortunately at Stage 4. 

Joana was an extremely strong, unselfish, and beautiful woman.  Joana battled her cancer with aggressive treatments and remained very strong for her family, friends, and most of all, for Baby Thomas.  In September 2011, Tom and Joana traveled to the Philippines to celebrate their son’s birthday.  Though her back was aching and she was fighting the pain, Tom shared that no one knew about her pain, “she was smiling the entire time.”  Joana lived for those around her and cared about what she could do for others and how anything would impact them.

Joana began hospice and palliaitive care services in 10/2012.  Her goals when she began hospice services was to survive and to become a volunteer for cancer patients to uplift their spirits; to share with the world her faith in God, even though the battle that she was struggling with; and to send a strong message of her own. 

Joana wanted to remind women not to neglect their pap smears and that if Cancer is diagnosed sooner, there would be a stronger chance that it could be curable.  Her message to us was also “not to take the simple things in life for granted because those simple things can be life changing.”

Joana was fortunate enough to receive hospice services while she was still seeking aggressive treatments with her oncologist.  Her pain and symptoms were effectively managed to help her through her treatments and to have quality of life.  Joana continued the treatments until the treatments were not changing her chances of survival.  When Joana came onto hospice services , she wasn’t comfortable with the “H” word (hospice) and struggled with the term hospice in that she had the ultimate question, “Am I dying?”  Joana only wanted the truth and she wanted a “time table” so she could be prepared because she didn’t really get any details of how long that she may have.  Having the information that she needed, she was able to make the plans that were most important to her. 

During the time that Joana was receiving hospice services, she was able to travel to Texas from Arizona.  Joana was able to spend Thanksgiving 2012 with some family members and most importantly, renewed her vows to her husband and had her last rites. 

Joana had an early birthday party in January where she was able to say goodbye to her family in the Philippines through the webcam.  After her family told her it was ok and that they would see her again, “Joana after the party thanked her family, was satisfied, and was ready to go.” 

I spent time with Joana and Tom, Friday, January 11, 2013 when everything was shared with me what was of utmost importance to Joana.  Tom shared with me that Joana woke up on Thursday, 01/10/2013 and shared with him that “she saw Jesus and Jesus touched her face.”  She shared with Tom that she would make a home in heaven for all of them and that “she loved him so much.”  Joana passed on Monday, January 14, 2013 at 8:45AM.

Tom shared that at the end of Joana’s life, “she didn’t know the feeling of dying and (after discussions with hospice staff)  her knowing what to expect made her more comfortable.”  Tom shared:

Living every day is like an extension of her (Joana).  It has been a life blessing that we came this far.  Whatever happens to you in  life, good or bad, there is always a good purpose that God gave you to experience.  Don’t blame God, seek the message God has given to you.  Joana didn’t ever lose her faith in God and never questioned God on what has happened.  Baby Thomas, growing up, will see everything about Joana, pictures, videos, and all of these stories. 

Joana will be remembered by everyone for her strength, her passion, love, and compassion for others, and the story that she wanted so much to tell to continue to reach as many people as she could. 

When I met with Tom, a promise was made to he and Joana that I would tell Joana’s story and continue to tell the story and reach as many people as humanly possible.  Joana, being so lively and positive, requested to have her memorial on her birthday rather than on the day that she passed. 

This will be a day (and month of March) to remember her, her battle with cancer, and most importantly to share her story and message to as many people as we can possibly reach.  Joana will be remembered for her courage, her liveliness, and her strength. 

Joana, you will be always remembered and your story has been told and will be continued to be remembered and shared.

All donations will go to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition (NCCC) toward educational materials and promotions in an effort to prevent cancer.  That was Joana's wish.  Please donate now to help others and to honor Joana's desire to pass the information on after her death.

You may also log on to the NCCC local AZ Chapter

http://www.nccc-online.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=114




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Updates

Updates

04/21/2014
by Denise Murray-Leitz
Thank you to all of our supporters.  I thought of Joana and her lovely family this Easter.  Her story will always be dear to my heart. 

I please ask that you share this with others and please be a part of fulifilling Joana's wish to tell her story and possibly save someone's life through community outreach and education.  Please donate today.  We appreciate any donation. 

Thank you.
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04/08/2014
by Denise Murray-Leitz
Tonight I thought about Joana as I ate dinner with my boys, one being almost the same age as Baby Thomas.  I am very thankful that I am with my boys and still can't imagine how I would feel to leave this world and say goodbye for now. 

Joana wanted to help so many other women.  Please take time to think of what her wish was.  This fundraiser is for Joana and for ONE or MORE women we can reach on her behalf to save their life and beat cancer as she wanted to.   

We stay steady at reaching our goal at 26% - I look forward to seeing us meet our goal. 
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04/05/2014
by Denise Murray-Leitz
We have reached $1,055.00 and are 26% to goal.  Thank you to all of the supporters. 

Please continue to share and pass this along.  All donations will be submitted to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition to be used for community outreach and education.

Thank you for honoring Joana's wish to tell her story and to help others.


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03/30/2014
by Denise Murray-Leitz
Thanks to all of our supporters that have contributed to fulfilling Joana's wish to tell her story and reach other women in an effort to prevent cervical cancer and to cherish every day life. 

We have reached $ 855 to date - 20% to goal.  Please donate to this worthy cause.  Read Joana's story and be a part of making a difference to at least one individual that we may reach through education.

All donations will go to the National Cervical Cancer Coaltion for education materials and outreach.
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03/29/2014
by Denise Murray-Leitz
A MESSAGE FROM ONE OF OUR SUPPORTERS:

"This is a topic that is close to my heart. I too was diagnosed with cervical cancer in my late 20’s.
If it wasn’t for my yearly exams I wouldn’t have caught this in the early stages."

Thank you for your support,
Tracy


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03/29/2014
by Denise Murray-Leitz
A MESSAGE FROM ONE OF OUR SUPPORTERS:

"This is a topic that is close to my heart. I too was diagnosed with cervical cancer in my late 20’s.
If it wasn’t for my yearly exams I wouldn’t have caught this in the early stages."

Thank you for your support,
Tracy


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03/29/2014
by Denise Murray-Leitz

I keep in touch with Tom (Joana's husband) and he shared that he and Baby Thomas are back in the Phillippines and Baby Thomas "is adjusting well." 

For Tom, he shared with me, "I’m still thinking of Joana a lot and miss her so much.  I just kept on looking on our pictures and videos and just reminiscing our moments together.  But I know she is in a happy place right now and I just need to continue for Thomas."

Tom is such a supportive husband and wonderful father.  He wanted to continue telling Joana's story as she wished to help others in an effort to prevent cancer.

We appreciate your empathy and willingness to help with this fundraiser.  Again, all donations will be used for educational materials and health screenings at upcoming events in collaboration with the NCCC.

Please help make a difference now! 


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03/29/2014
by Denise Murray-Leitz
Joana's fundraiser has reached $ 705.  Donations have came through the NCCC and through this site. 

Thank you to those that have donated for Joana's wish to reach out to others in an effort to prevent cervical cancer. 

Please continue to support this cause.  One donation may make a huge difference in a person's life.


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03/25/2014
by Denise Murray-Leitz
The donations link is now working.  All donations can be taken by PayPal.  You do NOT have to have a PayPal account to donate.

Let's meet our fundraiser goal in memory of Joana.  Please donate to educate women on cervical cancer.

Thank you for all of your support.
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