If you would like to have your loved one added to our memory page or to honor a survivor, please contact us at 262.305.1370 or send us mail at: Ann’s Hope Foundation
P.O. Box 376
Hartland WI 53029.
Julie was 37-years-old when she lost her four-year battle with melanoma on December 21, 2007. She had
many amazing qualities, including her incredible strength and perseverance, which she displayed through every obstacle in her fight against this disease.
Julie’s beautiful spirit shined through her sparkling eyes and contagious laugh. She had a sweet voice that would warm your heart and brighten your day. These are just some of the gifts God blessed Julie with. She shared them with her beautiful children, Adam and Matt, and her loving husband, Scott.
Julie worked very hard for seven years to complete her degree in elementary education from Southern Illinois University. She was a full-time, stay-at-home mom who was actively involved in the sports and other activities that her two young boys loved. She attended her college classes, mostly part-time, so she could take care of her family’s needs. Julie graduated Magna Cum Laude in May of 2006, but was never able to fulfill her dream of teaching young children because of melanoma.
There are so many ways Julie will be missed. Her eternal optimism, personal strength, caring nature, sense of humor and magnetic smile will live on in the family and friends she left behind. She touched the lives of everyone who ever met her and she will be deeply missed. We know that Julie would be proud of this foundation and its dedication to finding a cure for melanoma.
-Written by Jennifer Manzano and Kelly Ivan (Julie’s sisters)
Monday: Nick goes to work as a mason.
Tuesday & Wednesday: Nick goes to work; he is a son, a brother and a husband. He is a father to three beautiful children, ages 5, 11, and 15. Nick takes his son to Boy Scouts tonight; he is a Den leader.
Thursday: pretty much the same with the exception of football practice with his son.
Friday: work again, in the evening he is at the St. Thomas School fish fry cleaning up, he is in charge of that job, a daunting task, but he makes it fun.
Saturday: Nick may be at work or home; in the evening he will be bowling with friends.
Sunday: Nick goes to church. He is a man of faith. Sunday is also for fishing with the kids. You can find Nick wearing a T-shirt that will make you laugh; he has a witty sense of humor. His charismatic personality radiates love and affection. You always have a friend if Nick is around. If you need help, call Nick because he will do anything for you. You can also find Nick reading. He is extremely intelligent and enjoys history. We encourage Nick to go on Jeopardy because he knows every answer! Don’t let his intelligence fool you; he has been known to enjoy a beer or two! Come November you will notice Nick smiling more, as hunting season will soon be in full swing. The days repeat with a few changes here and there. As you can see his life resemble most of ours.
Sunday, March 11, 2007: Nick feels “off.” This is where Nick’s life ends, as he knows it. He has been given the diagnosis of Stage IV Melanoma with metastases to the brain, liver, lungs, adrenal glands, stomach and lymph nodes. For the next 133 days he is a warrior in the battle against melanoma. Nick fights hard: Craniotomy, Gamma Knife, chemo, radiation and lots of prayers. He endures pain, nausea, vomiting, loss of vision, weakness and the loss of life he had before cancer barged in. Eventually he loses all ability to care for himself. Family and friends surround him throughout this time of uncertainty. Early in the morning on July 27, 2007, as his family peacefully slept beside him at home, Nick’s battle ended. Melanoma has taken another warrior: a father, a husband, a son, a brother and a friend.
Nick never gave up hope. In honor of Nick we will never give up hope for a cure. We look forward to the day when the prognosis for Melanoma is excellent.
-Written by Jennifer Klemko
Rebecca Ann Swender was the most amazing person I have ever known. By far one of the most intelligent people I’ve met and in addition; beautiful, funny, elegant, stylish and wonderful to be around. Becca, as she was known to her friends, was born in Syracuse, NY, in 1971. She lived in the Philippines for two years when her family was stationed there, when she was very young. Raised back in Syracuse, she excelled in high school and was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities, including lacrosse and theater. Her favorite activity was swimming and she was the captain of the high school swim team. She graduated from Wesleyan University in 1995 majoring in Film and Religious Studies.
After working in the film industry in New York City she sought more out of film and was accepted to the University of Wisconsin Film graduate program, eventually pursuing a PhD. Becca was a great teacher and made a big impression on a lot of her students, often cited as the best instructor they had in college.
Though she was very prolific in her studies, she made time for a well-rounded life, being involved with many other things. One of her favorite activities was rollerblading or biking through Madison. Becca was also the kind of person who always thought of her friends, which is probably why she has so many close friends from all different stages of her life. Becca also had a very special, very loved four-legged friend, Matilda, whom she rescued from a kennel in Detroit through Shar-pei Savers. Together the three of us made a small but loving “pack,” and I shall cherish these times the most. The most important thing to Becca was her wonderful family, whom she saw as often as she could.
Becca was in the middle of research for her dissertation when she was first diagnosed with stage 1 melanoma. The initial site was not very deep and no one expected the sentinel node biopsy to come back positive, but it did. For two years Becca fought melanoma, which recurred solely in her left leg. She endured interferon shots for one year, had five surgeries, and became a part of a vaccine trial at NIH. All this time, she was still doing research, for film and melanoma, and up until the spring semester of 2008, she taught classes at UW. She completed two cycles of Interleukin (IL-2) at NIH, when she developed a severe pain in her leg that worried the NIH doctors. Further test revealed that the cancer had spread to her bones, liver, lungs, and brain.
Becca fought very hard, right up to the end. The drugs administered made her very tired, sometimes so much that she couldn’t wake up. But at the sound of someone crying she would sit up and comfort them. She passed away on June 14th surrounded by her family, Matilda and myself, exactly the way she wanted. Rebecca was a very caring and tender person, who, though very private, touched a lot of lives very deeply.
-Written by Alex Andre
My story begins in June of 2005. I was 20 years old and just returned home from a study abroad trip in Mexico. I was taking classes at the university level and didn’t think life could get much better for me. I was having the time of my life with new friends and new experiences.
A couple of weeks after my homecoming I went to the dermatologist to have a specific part of my skin on my back examined. I wasn’t worried at all, and at first glance my doctor didn’t think there was anything to worry about either. After all, I was too young, wasn’t I? “Let’s take a biopsy just in case,” he told me. Days later, I had come to find out that this spot on my back was about to change my life. The biopsy had tested positive for malignant melanoma. I didn’t even know that skin cancer could move through the body and into vital organs! I had a lot to learn. Soon I met with new doctors and underwent an eight hour surgery to see just how far it had spread. Stage IV.
Everything came to a screeching halt. It took some time for me to grasp the gravity of this situation, until doctors told me to pull out of school and begin the fight for my life. I entered a whole new world of uncertainty, fear and desperation. I didn’t do anything to deserve skin cancer; it truly can happen to anyone. I am living proof that no one is immune to this terrible illness.
This disease has led me around the country. I began treatment here in Milwaukee, to find out that they didn’t have the ability to help me. I went to Madison and eventually Maryland, along the way meeting many doctors whose goal was to keep me alive. Finally I was referred to a clinic in Illinois, where I am not only finding success, but complete remission is in sight! I am forever thankful to all the doctors and staff in each and every clinic for their support and knowledge. I wouldn’t be here without their dedication to clinical trials, and I wouldn’t even have had opportunities to enter them without research funding. I am entirely grateful to God that He would put the right doctors in my life at the right time.
Melanoma is not just appearing in people who have spent excessive amounts of time in the sun or in tanning booths, it’s happening to people like me. I want to be a voice that is heard. It has been a long fight, but I know this has happened to me for a reason and I want to make a difference. Please contribute so that we can have more funding for research and be closer to a cure.
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