Effie’s Foundation of Wellness is dedicated to Effie Haralabakos’ philosophies by providing communities and individuals with strength, healing and hope. We are a group that is committed to offering resources and support that will raise the standards in the world which we live in. The Effie’s Foundation of Wellness is interested in offering support for new medical research, providing resources to those requiring in-home support, and giving hope back to even in the most difficult situations, just as Effie Haralabakos did throughout her life.
Effie’s Foundation of Wellness is a Calgary based charity that is dedicated to supporting local programs for rare and difficult cancers, funding late stage cancers, and improving cancer care for patients. We believe that cancer should be considered a condition that a person can live well with at any stage of the disease.
Many cancers that are diagnosed at stage I or II are easily treated and controlled, as were later stage of III or IV are harder to treat. (Canadian Cancer Statistics). Cancers such as brain cancer and colon cancer are not easily treated in the later stages and more research and studies are needed to raise the probability of longevity after diagnoses for these patients.
We also believe that our medical system is lacking in many departments and that special attention needs to be given to improving cancer care in Calgary. From hospital wait times for testing and emergency, to providing equal opportunity to all patients who are forced to pay for their own chemo and prescription medications. Part of living well with cancer means getting the best treatment available and not having to worry about the cost. (Alberta Cancer Drug Coverage)
For someone who has never had any experience with cancer, the initial diagnoses can sound like a death sentence. No one is to say how long a person may or may not live after diagnoses, but a person can live well with cancer if they are provided for in a caring manor. Effie’s Foundation of Wellness is dedicated to helping patients establish the best quality of life at all stages of treatments and commits to helping cancer patients by supporting them directly, and through programs at the Tom Baker.
Peter Haralabakos was one of the original founders of Effie’s Foundation of Wellness. He helped develop the foundation after loosing his wife Effie to cancer, but later was also diagnosed with late stage colon cancer himself. Like his wife, Peter defied all odds by living on to meet his grandchildren, developing his business, and traveling Europe with a type of cancer that statistically ends a patients life at eighteen months. Peter lived on after diagnoses for over four years.
Peter was a kind soul, a successful business man, and an extraordinary human being. His influence to this foundation and life has been greatly missed.
Although we are a new charity in respect to others, we have high hopes and great dreams. As a team, we have experienced what cancer means face to face and understand what its like for patients and their families to fight this disease. So we have decided to start by trying to create impact directly onto the patients and their families through these programs. As our foundation grows, and our funds grow so do our goals. We begin with three basic goals now, to provide patients with drugs that are not covered by the Alberta government, in-home support, and medical support within the Tom Baker Cancer Center.
Covering medical treatments. If you have never been through the medical system you would think that all cancer treatments are covered by the Alberta government; although that would be ideal, it is not so. Cancer is expensive, and not all life saving/prolonging drugs are covered by the government. As a result there could be a large bill to be paid by the patient. It is difficult for a person undergoing heavy cancer treatments to be at work, or a senior who must deplete their life long savings to pay for expensive treatments. We want to help these people with our Financial Wellness Program. By providing patients with the pharmaceutical products needed for their treatment we believe that unwarranted stress can be lifted from the patient’s life, and they can focus on getting better instead of the bill to be paid.
Although with a doctors letter the Red Cross and other great companies can assist to gain access in such things as ramps, wheel chairs and medical beds for free, they are often out dated or under stocked. Part of living well with cancer is having all the means to be in a patient’s own home as long as possible, and this can be the difference between having a manual medical bed or electrical bed like the ones in the hospital. These products are expensive and difficult to have if not nearly impossible to rent. Our goal is to purchase the most sophisticated medical equipment that is in greatest needs to cancer patients, and provide them free of charge for in home use. Something so simple can elevate caregivers and cancer patient stress and help build a more nurturing environment for cancer care.
We believe that it is incredibly important to support our local doctors by encouraging them to develop new medications and better research for rare and late stage cancers. This is the only way that the statistics for prolonged life will increase with this disease, and give patients valid hope and better quality of life. Currently Effie’s Foundation of Wellness is supporting the Brain Cancer Fellowship program at the Tom Baker Cancer Center in hopes that Calgary can give brain cancer patients a better chance at life. People living with late stage brain cancer have limited options and the cancer is a difficult one to diagnose and treat. We support this program so that there may be better-trained professionals, doctors, and more advanced medical treatments. This is the only way that the odds can better for all brain cancer patients.
Effie Haralabakos was diagnosed with stage III brain cancer August of 2003. She became a true inspiration to her family, community and her peers. As one of the founders and supporters of Classic Jack’s Restaurant & Bar, she was well known in the community for her nurturing spirit, enthusiastic attitude, and her ability to fight off and live well with later stage cancer.
She became an inspiration for the medical community, as doctors kept telling her of all the horrible symptoms associated to her cancer but instead she just kept fighting and defying the odds. Her year long chemo treatments became a walk in the park while she packed her chemo pills along with her on her road trips with her husband. Instead of increased side effects, she underwent a decrease in side effects. She continued to do immensely well, being told that her cancer was no longer a threat she was able to give up treatments and live a full year cancer and treatment free. She was eating a healthy diet, going to the gym six days a week, and living life fully along with her family.
But like cancer seems to do many times, it came back with a vengeance. December 27, 2005 Effie was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer. She fought this cancer with as much zest and force as she did her initial diagnoses but it was not enough. The cancer claimed her life four months later on May 22, 2006 at the age of 56. Although Effie’s life ended there, what she taught us lives on in her legacy. She was a worrier with her cancer and showed the medical system and her community that cancer can be something a person can live with and well.
During Effie’s fight with cancer we, her family, realized that our medical system is struggling to always provide top service to cancer patients. There were hours that we felt unsupported by the medical system. We were unable to get medical equipment installed into our home fast enough to keep up with her medical needs, resulting in Effie passing away at the Foothills Hospital instead of her home where she wanted to be. Communication amongst medical professionals tends to lack at times causing confusion and delays in treatment, as well as emotional upset. And expensive medications, such as anti-nausea medications were not provided for despite these being a necessity for the body to handle some of the only effective brain cancer treatments at the time. Effie’s family vowed that our medical system must improve for cancer care, and that this would happen through the creation of this foundation.
Effie’s Foundation of Wellness is committed to helping others fight their cancer with the wellness that Effie Haralabakos fought hers. Using her as our inspiration we know that there can be a better future for cancer patients in our city. And maybe one day even a cure
Events such as these would be impossible if it weren’t for our amazing sponsors — companies like Renfrew Chrysler, Canacord Alexandria Financial, and Group 933 Hospitality. Sponsorship is a great way to support cancer patients with their fight for life when diagnosed with rare and hard to treat cancers, while simultaneously advertising your business to our wonderful supporters.
Thanks for Joining us at the Effie’s Foundation of Wellness 7th Annual Golf Tournament!
The Date: Shot gun start Tuesday June 10, 2014
Location: Springbank Links Golf Club
Click here to Sponsor
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