Penn Medicine News Blog

December 09, 2016 // By Sally Sapega // Comments

HEADstrong Brings “Home” to HUP for the Holidays

Cancer // Human Interest // Measures that Matter

Headstrong patient in lineMillions of Americans hit the road (and the airports and train stations) to spend Thanksgiving with loved ones … more than on any other day of the year. But, for those visiting family members in the hospital this day – and others coming up in just a few weeks -- the holiday spirit can be sadly missing. That’s not the case for patients receiving cancer treatment at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, though. For the past 10 years, the HEADstrong Foundation has helped make the holiday experience a good one for all of these patients, their families, and staff.

HEADstrong was the brain child of Nick Colleluori, a charismatic young man who battled -- and eventually succumbed -- to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at HUP in 2006. From his bed, he created an organization that would help raise awareness of the disease and reach out to help other cancer patients and families. Shortly before he died, he made his family promise to bring his vision to fruition. (Profiled here in The Washington Post

And they have more than kept their word. The Foundation has raised more than $9 million, some of which has provided grants to more than 13,500 patients to pay expenses like mortgages and copays, as well as travel-related costs to and from the hospital. “We used our experience from when Nick was sick,” said Cheryl Colleluori, Nick’s mother who serves at president of HEADstrong. “There’s no greater reward. Every patient inspires me.” The money they raise has also funded research for blood-cancer disorders, including $455,000 for the Nicholas E. Colleluori Lymphoma Research Fund at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center (ACC).

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