Meet Tyler Jachetta

A donation to Smith Center provides programs like Cancer Support Group & Retreats for people facing cancer in our community. 

#MyStoryShared: Smith Center brought me here.

Stage III brain cancer. That’s heavy for anyone to handle. And I’m 32 years old. Heavier still.

Though this sounds scary to many people, I’ve found a community that makes it easier to handle: the Young Adult Cancer Survivor Group at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts.

I was referred by a social worker to this wonderful group of my fellow compatriots. As someone who didn’t previously know any other young adults dealing with a cancer journey, the survivors in this group understand what I’m going through without me even having to explain. I walk into Smith Center and I don’t have to think about how I’m presenting to the public; I can live my life as it is right now, pain and all.

Without this group, I have no idea where I would be. I’ve seen people at all stages communicate their feelings, hopes, dreams, fears and be all right, which gives me hope that I can do it too. I’ve made friends who are now the closest people to me. Friends who genuinely care about me, text me to check in, and show up to my home when I have a bad day.

#MyStoryShared represents how Smith Center has changed my life for the better. Young adult cancers aren’t very common and to have representation through this group is incredibly crucial. Smith Center now serves as a constant in my life; I appreciate so much that someone is always here to talk and we’re all in the trenches together.

Tyler Jachetta
Young Adult Cancer Survivor
Historical Fencer

PS: Smith Center impacts thousands of lives each year, like mine, and you can too. With a donation, you have the power to help change lives and make a difference for those living with cancer.

Meet Jane & Erwin Krasnow

A donation to Smith Center provides programs like Cancer Support Group & Retreats for people facing cancer in our community. 

#MyStoryShared: Cancer brought us Smith Center.

JANE: Cancer has impacted both of our lives more than we ever imagined. I am a 26-year cancer survivor and have dealt with two different cancer diagnoses during my journey. My husband, Erwin, lost his first wife to cancer and met me shortly thereafter.

ERWIN: When I met my wife, Jane, I knew that my journey as a caregiver would never cease. Having years of experience as a caregiver to my late first wife, I knew how lonely cancer could be. On a normal walk through my neighborhood, I passed by Smith Center for Healing and the Arts. Intrigued by the name, I looked online to see what they did. This decision changed our lives forever.

Walking into Smith Center for each class has been like coming to a family that understands exactly where you are at. We’ve explored cooking classes, yoga sessions, art classes, meditation circles, support groups, and more together, meeting new and diverse people each time we come in. From the instructors to staff, to other participants, each person has enriched our lives and added immensely to our joy.

#MyStoryShared represents how Smith Center has changed our lives for the better. We have found a community where we can heal inside and out. The tools and information gathered about nutrition, stress management, and overall wellness are invaluable. The value of Smith Center’s work in the community cannot be emphasized enough.

Jane and Erwin Krasnow
Cancer Survivor and Caregiver
Yoga Enthusiasts

PS: Smith Center impacts thousands of lives each year, like ours, and now you have the power to do the same. With a donation, you have the power to help change lives and make a difference for those living with cancer.

Meet Thea Breite

A donation to Smith Center provides programs like Cancer Support Group & Retreats for people facing cancer in our community. 

#MyStoryShared: Art brought me a new identity.

In January 2017, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Three months later, my wife was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As a wife and mother of three children, the effects were devastating, sending our family on an emotional journey we never imagined possible.

Following our search for information, I came across Smith Center for Healing and the Arts’ Cancer Retreats. Attending this retreat not only opened my eyes to the incredible work Smith Center does every day, but also introduced me to the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery.

During my treatment, I began taking walks in my neighborhood with my camera, photographing the world around me. As I walked, searching for hope and strength, trees called out to me. Their strength, resilience, rootedness and flexibility became my inspiration. I photographed shapes, textures, scars, even fungi, realizing that the images of the trees reflected the story I was living.

When my world was rocked by cancer, I found a new creative outlet that has been so rewarding. Through Smith Center’s Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, I have not only had the great pleasure of exhibiting my first ever art show but have embraced a new facet of my identity: artist.

#MyStoryShared represents how Smith Center has changed my life for the better. Techniques I learned at my Smith Center retreat, my art and exhibiting my work at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery gave me a sense of purpose, boosted my confidence, and provided an opportunity to inspire others searching for healing through art.

Thea Breite
Cancer Survivor
Artist

PS: Smith Center impacts thousands of lives each year, like mine and you can too. With a tax-deductible donation, you have the power to help change lives and make a difference for those living with cancer.

Meet Charity Sade

A donation to Smith Center provides programs like Cancer Support Group & Retreats for people facing cancer in our community. 

#MyStoryShared: Cancer brought me a community.

Cancer is no laughing matter. I certainly didn’t laugh when I was diagnosed at age 27 with inflammatory breast cancer. I didn’t laugh when my whole world changed and suddenly found myself at chemotherapy. There’s not much to laugh at when you find yourself dealing with things people your age would never imagine in their wildest dreams.

And then I discovered a community of support at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts.

Smith Center’s Young Adult Cancer Support Group became a refuge for me, a place where I could come and share how I was feeling without any judgment. Everyone had different types of cancer, but we shared a common bond with what we were all going through. Having this support system helped to channel my pain into comedy. I had found my love for laughter again.

Now, I help others find their ways to laugh. This year, I taught my first stand-up comedy class with young adult cancer survivors at Smith Center, and we held our showcase this past April with amazing feedback. I’m working with Smith Center on more classes and shows and couldn’t be more excited about what’s to come next.

#MyStoryShared represents how Smith Center has changed my life for the better. It served as an anchor and a place where I can always come back to be replenished and refreshed. Smith Center helped me find a community and form lasting friendships I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Charity Sade

Young Adult Cancer Survivor
Comedienne Extraordinaire

P.S. Smith Center impacts thousands of lives, like mine, each year and you can too. With a tax-deductible donation, you have the power to help change lives and make a difference for those living with cancer.

A donation to Smith Center provides programs like Cancer Support Group & Retreats for people facing cancer in our community. 

Smith Center for Healing and the Arts logo

It is with a deep sense of gratitude for her leadership that we announce Jennifer Bires will be leaving us as Executive Director of Smith Center.

Over the past two years, Jennifer led efforts to strengthen Smith Center’s programming for cancer survivors in the DC region and to increase our visibility in the community.  Her accomplishments include the creation of new partnerships with the George Washington University Cancer Center, Georgetown University’s esophageal cancer team, and the Washington Hospital Center’s Palliative Care Team.

Jennifer also successfully increased the number of programs offered on-site at our U Street location, increased the number of participants accessing services and worked closely with our retreat team to increase retreat participation and ensure better visibility of this signature program. Additionally, Jennifer deepened the connection between the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery and the cancer journey.

She was given the opportunity to lead Life With Cancer at Inova and shape psychosocial programming at their new Inova Schar Cancer Institute.  While we are saddened to see her go, we are in full support of her and know she will continue to make deep and significant contributions to people affected by cancer.

Jennifer’s transition creates an important opportunity for Smith Center to continue looking forward, build on the renewed foundation she established, as well as, continue to deepen our on-going collaboration with partners across the DC region.

This transition will be effective October 1, 2019. If you are interested in applying or know anyone who is, you can find the job announcement here. In the meantime, if you have questions or need more information, please contact:

Jackie Ogg, Chair, Smith Center Board of Directors, 301-537-5627 or jackieo@rcn.com.

Julia Rowland, Senior Strategic Advisor, Smith Center, 202-483-8600 or julia@smithcenter.com

Kind regards,

Smith Center Board Chair

Forward

This is Smith Center for Healing and the Arts’ first poetry zine! It was created to be inclusive of the voices of cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, family, friends, providers, researchers, and more. These poems serve as an outlet to heal through creativity for those directly or indirectly impacted by cancer.

you to everyone who submitted their original poetry. We are so grateful to have received and read your cancer experiences and beautiful metaphors. And to those who are reading and supporting this poetry zine, thank you for taking the time to embark on this journey of healing through poetry. This zine is a labor of healing & love for the cancer community. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Sincerely,

Smith Center for Healing and the Arts Calista Ogburn and Carla Stillwagon

I Was Always Falling

by Stacie Marinelli

I was always falling that year, tumbling into sunken living rooms, cascading clumsily off couches, tripping on the way into a subway car.

All year I was disoriented, gravity-deficient, space walking into the murky universe of malignancy – that is, after my diagnosis,
I was unable to stand flat on the floor of my own existence; strapped flat to a radiation table, I was thrown head first into an unstable universe.

Those days I was always catching myself up, wondering what to do next, calculating the odds of survival, holding steady to a schedule of waiting rooms, clinic visits, doctor exams, x-rays, I was celebrating each moment away from suffering, moving forward towards healing.

And there were people all around to catch me, meeting me for coffee, taking me to MRIs cooking for me, preparing soups and smoothies, visiting from out of town, sleeping
on my foldout sofa, and listening, listening.

I was always falling into their arms, their hearts, those days, those months, I was jettisoned into the future, I was rising and falling back into my own life.

Washington, DC / May 2019

Sanctum Sanctorum

by Yael Flusberg

You take away my breath.
I’m used to being five feet above ground,

if you don’t count the layer between concrete and crust.

It took 30 million millennia to manufacture ranges
of your magnitude.

Stones matured underfoot until masons came to lay temples on your remote

mountainsides where ordinary beings practiced becoming luminous before death.

The Children of the Sun trained to cross quickly after that last exhale, after

the passage from air to space.
They tested the bridge to arrive without lagging in the world below.

Some call your cordillera
the backbone of the Americas.
It’s no accident I haven’t returned.

You insist I come cleansed – not
of the carcinoma which was excised with surgical precision,

but of what has taken all these years to develop: the notion that I
was the malignancy,

slowly growing on soft earth, undetected until the liminal state snuck into something more solid:

a rocky life growing into full height.

Dear MS

by Anonymous

A solid thick wood door Red chipped paint Peeling and blistering White cracks of light Where you seep in

You are unwelcome

And yet, you come in anyway I’ve told you to go away

One too many times

So here we are together again

Each time I am ready for your untimely visit I find stillness in your storm

Bug lamp humor in your nagging electrical shocks

With your pathetic arrival you bring gifts you can’t even begin to imagine

Do keep this in mind

I will never invite you with open arms I prefer guests, who frankly…

…Have a little more class

…Enter with more grace

…And know when to leave