Mercury News, Peninsula Section

FamiliesCAN—Reaching Out to
Almaden Cancer Patients


By Terry Oliver, Almaden Resident

95120, Heroes

May - June 2010



Eduarda Francisco and Jackie Kubicka of FamiliesCANMeet Jacqueline (Jackie) Kubicka who founded FamiliesCAN in 2000. Ronald , Jackie's father retired that year as Senior Vice President of Intel after thirty years with the company. Ronald offered Jackie a unique opportunity to grant millions of dollars (from the Ronald Whittier Family Foundation to a cause of her choosing, without having to fund raise. Jackie knew the concept she would adopt immediately. as her husband had just completed cancer treatment. The treatment process itself, as well as the uncertainty of the outcome, had been a trying and stressful time for her and her husband, and their young children, Anna and Andrew. Jackie decided she would help other cancer patients one at a time, and do what she could to make the process less difficult to endure for patients and their families. Ten years later. FamiliesCAN is still helping patients (approximately 52 families per year) undergoing cancer care in Santa Clara County. Jackie shares her view: "People welcome our financial support. Sometimes I thing the emotional support and friendship that results from our connection is even more welcome. When you're sick and stressed about money all at the same time, it's nice to know that someone else cares." Here. we introduce Program Director, Eduarda Francisco , review some examples of their compassion, and learn how FamiliesCAN can help you or someone you know.


Eduarda Francisco has served as the FamiliesCAN Program Director since 2001, handling day-to-day responsibilities. Eduarda is the primary contact for patients, helping them with applications for assistance and recommending organizations to help patients with various resource questions that extend beyond their services. Eduarda spent seven years with The American Cancer Society managing Relay for Life, and prior to that she was founder of the Kids Helping Kids program at the Cancer and Support Education Center in Menlo Park. Eduarda works closely with the patients and with Jackie to keep operations flowing smoothly and has helped the program evolve over the years. They become close with the patients they meet, which in some cases can be heartbreaking. Eduarda added, "I feel privileged to be in a position that allows me to serve people at such a deep level. One aspect of my job is quite emotionally draining, however the other is incredibly rewarding. We are all about 'hands on' and doing as much as they let us; we laugh and we cry with them; we share their victories. The favorite part of my job is watching the children at our Christmas party sit on on Santa's lap. I love to watch their faces as they ask Santa for something special (usually for mom or dad to get better). I feel blessed for knowing all these wonderful families that cross my path through FamiliesCAN."


FamiliesCAN financially assists individuals suffering from cancer and their families, to make this time of crisis more comfortable and to provide support and even advise on resources to obtain further support. I liken them to a "make a wish" group, but in a more practical sense. FamiliesCAN provides the families of cancer patients with non-medical financial assistance during treatment and recovery. According to FamiliesCAN "Without this type of support , some families experience extraordinary hardships—from a struggle to pay for the most basic of living expenses to an inability to even keep their families together." The program pays for various expenses, depending on the individual, from rent or mortgage, to attendant care, to groceries. The program alleviates some of the stress sure to follow cancer diagnosis. FamiliesCAN is able to offer assistance, similar to a family member or circle of friends, to lessen patient stress.


You may be wondering how you can get someone in contact with FamiliesCAN to seek help. Step One is to visit their website to see if the patient meets the simple criteria. Step two is to contact Eduarda to set up a meeting. It is that easy. If, in turn, you want to help cancer patients, you can contact Eduarda and provide event tickets for the group. FamiliesCAN hosts family activities through out the year to provide emotional support, such as a Christmas party with Santa Claus and an annual picnic. They also host small group events and have taken different patients throughout the years to some uplifting treats, such as The Wiggles, Barnum and Bailey Circus, Disney on Ice, Barney, Sharks Hockey, Bonfante Gardens, Kelly Clarkson, Barbara Streisand and the Andrea Bocelli concert. The events keep the patients mind off the pain. FamiliesCAN is exemplary!


" My husband, Bob, was diagnosed as terminal with multiple myeloma. We went to Stanford for a second opinion for my husband and we were getting new hope for him., but it was a long road. After two bone marrow transplants and almost two years of treatments, everyone that had been helping us was exhausted. At that point, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I didn't know what we were going to do. That is when I was referred to FamiliesCAN. They stepped up and provided strength. They helped us financially while I was undergoing treatment, and then invited us to events to lift our spirits, and it was exactly what we needed. I recommend anyone going through cancer treatment to contact FamiiesCAN, whether you need financial assistance or just emotional support."

A Partial List of FamiliesCAN Gifts


Temporary housing/hotels, transportation, childcare, counseling, education (fees and tuition, from preschool up through college), recreational costs (Great America and Disneyland), attendant care, personal items 9wigs, undergarments), Thanksgiving dinners for home bound families, karate and dance lessons, deposits on new apartments and automobiles.