“It’s a wonderful avenue when people say, ‘I wish I could have …’ and we have a fund for that,” she says. “Wendy enables the little miracles.”
As for caregivers, “it’s not that it’s OK to take care of yourself — it’s a requirement,” adds Tollick, who is based at the Claudia Mayer Cancer Resource Center on Charter Drive. “It means the world (to them) to be remembered. They get tears in their eyes.”
Letow has also amassed a corps of 110 volunteers who solicit donations, provide fundraising event support, bake, cook and help with patient communications, web design, legal assistance, marketing, accounting, holiday gift giving and more.
“The list is endless, and I couldn’t do this without them,” she says.
She also works with an eight-member board of directors from her office in the Manekin building on Robert Fulton Drive in space donated by the commercial real estate company, and learned bookkeeping from her husband, she says.
The massage therapist was inspired to found the organization by a former client, Bill Hartley, who told her in 2003 that his wife, Jennifer, had been diagnosed with liver cancer.
“Not really knowing what to say or do, I offered to treat Jennifer to a cranial sacral therapy session to help ease her pain,” Letow writes on her organization’s website, tlt4c.org. That spontaneous offer led to a year-long relationship with the couple in which she continued to offer complementary therapies.
“Witnessing Bill’s selflessness and unconditional love of Jennifer during her battle with cancer both warmed and broke my heart,” she says, noting Jennifer died in 2004 at age 49. “It was time to make a difference in the lives of others affected by cancer. The profound work we did together made me realize that we often take for granted ‘the little things’ in life.”
In September 2011, Letow was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which resulted in two surgeries and a six-month recovery period.
“It’s the worst when you hear you have cancer,” she says. “It doesn’t matter what kind or what stage. Psychologically, you fear dying.”
Having now survived her illness, Letow can observe firsthand that “it’s a beautiful thing to take something so tragic and turn it around to help people,” she says.
“I just feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
For more information about The Little Things for Cancer, visit tlt4c.org or call 443-228-8584.