Sometimes, you simply need to get away from it all. For Pete’s Sake helps families battling cancer do just that, giving them a vacation to relax, rejuvenate, and refresh for the often difficult road ahead of them.

By Alissa Boyle
Photo courtesy For Pete’s Sake

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How do you honor the memory of a loved one after they’re gone?

If you’re Marci Kuttler Bossow Schankweiler, you start a foundation that helps¬†cancer patients and their families create lasting memories together and return to continue the fight against cancer with a renewed sense of vigor.

Schankweiler founded For Pete’s Sake Cancer Respite Foundation in 1999 with her late husband, Peter R. Bossow. “In 1998, my husband Pete was diagnosed with cancer,” says Schankweiler. “And in 1999, he was gone.”

FPS Letterhead_frontDuring his treatment family and friends sent Marci and Pete on vacation, where they had a brief break from living life with cancer and a unique opportunity to remember what life was like before they ever heard that word. “There were no TVs, no telephones — just the beauty of the world around us,” says Schankweiler. They returned with a renewed resolve to continue the fight… and to make sure that others in their position experienced the same opportunity.

Based in Plymouth Meeting, For Pete’s Sake sends cancer patients and their caregivers on a week-long, expenses-paid vacation to select locations along the East Coast and in the Caribbean. The organization owns a respite home near Orlando, Florida, and hosts additional stays with the help of donated vacation homes and time shares.

Eligible patients need to be between ages 24 and 50, and have a physician diagnosis of cancer. Preference is given to patients in the tri-state area (residents of PA, NJ, or DE). Nominations come directly from oncologists, and there are no financial or cancer stage requirements. “All the families we help are in different spots emotionally and physically,” according to Schankweiler. “I’ve recognized not only is there a need for what we do, there’s a demand for it.”

“We offer more than just a vacation,” says Amber Gruver, operations and communications officer for For Pete’s Sake. “We offer a mental, physical, and emotional break” for families dealing with cancer.

To date, For Pete’s Sake has provided 814 vacations, providing respite for 4,442 people. And they’re not done yet. Not by a long shot. “In my heart, [I know we’ll be] helping more and more families,” says Schankweiler. “Cancer does not define them and their relationships; their love does.”

With your help, For Pete’s Sake can continue to help patients and their families take a break from cancer. Honor your own loved ones with a donation in their name. Get the kids involved with the Backpack Buddies program, collecting favorite travel items (games, crayons, etc.) for the kids who travel in their program with their ill parent. About 40 percent of people who travel with the program are patients’ kids, so there’s plenty of opportunity to make special memories for them, too.

Or join For Pete’s Sake at one of their upcoming fundraising events:

13th Annual Beach Ball Gala & Heroes Reception 2013
Crystal Tea Room
Saturday, February 9, 2013
6:30 pm – 12:30 am

14th Annual Dinner and Fashion Show
Whitemarsh Valley Country Club
Thursday, April 18, 2013
6 pm

For Pete’s Sake, Walk!
A 3-mile fun walk. Family-friendly event.
Citizen’s Bank Park, Philadelphia
Sunday, April 28, 2013
9 am