Helping Families Fight Brain Cancer
Our MissionThe Harley Helping Hands (HHH) Foundation is a non-profit organization established in 2009. The foundation's mission is to positively impact the lives of adults battling Brain Cancer. Through our fundraising efforts, our goal is to help each individual focus on themselves, their family and their fight by alleviating some of the financial burden medical crises can have on a family. HHH, local to the Chicagoland area, is 100% run by volunteers to ensure all money raised can directly impact the lives of adults fighting brain cancer.
The development of the foundation was inspired by our good friend Kit Harley (1976-2010) and his courageous three year battle against brain cancer. Throughout Kit's fight we saw the financial and emotional burden this disease brings to a family.
Throughout our support of Kit, we have supported and will continue to support various organizations whose mission is to provide information resources to patients & fund research. We found there are many extraordinary organizations that promote the funding of research; however none that offer financial support for the brain cancer patient and their family.
For three years we watched Kit, with the strength and support of his wife Rachel, fight Brain Cancer with courage and determination. Their family inspired us all. As their friends and family, our hearts would break wanting to find a way to help. Throughout their battle, the resources required to support Kit grew; resulting in an increasing financial burden. We started as a group of friends wanting to help our friends by raising money to assist with the growing financial burden; however our purpose quickly grew into something much larger. We asked ourselves...Of the 22,738 people diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor each year...how many of them need financial help as well? How can we help our friend, but also help others?
The answer-Develop an organization that will honor Kit's strength and keep his fight alive by helping families during their fight. Through our fundraising efforts the foundation seeks to financially support as many families as possible within the Chicagoland area during their battle against brain cancer. The work of the foundation will allow Kit's legacy to inspire others the way he inspired us.
Kit's StoryShortly after Kit & Rachel were engaged they moved to San Francisco for a year for Kit's job. They were both very excited for the adventure of living in a new city while planning their wedding!
On Feb 16, 2007, just three months before their wedding, Kit went for an MRI after having many focal seizures (which they would soon learn were misdiagnosed for over 2 years). That evening, after being out to dinner with Rachel & close friends he received a voice mail telling them to go to the ER ASAP. At 5 am the next day Rachel & Kit went to UCSF ER where they waited 6 hours. They were told to wait for a specialist to come and speak with them. Kit had a gut feeling the news wouldn't be good-He had noticed the reactions of the techs during the MRI, as they all came to stare at the image on the screen.
At the age of 30, Kit Harley was diagnosed with a grade 2-3 anaplastic astrocytoma-brain tumor.
Kit's parents flew in that night. Everyone was so shocked and scared. Rachel remembers just hugging Kit with no words exchanged.
On March 26, 2007, Kit went into surgery at UCSF. A 13 hour craniotomy, including 2 1/2 hours awake for brain mapping was performed. Doctors were unable to get the entire tumor; therefore radiation and chemo were now in his future.
Kit's recovery was very difficult; he did not even know Rachel's name. Words escaped him, and he was very impulsive, needing constant supervision. Rachel's mom is a nurse so she flew in the night before surgery to help with his post operation care.
A few weeks after his surgery, Kit & Rachel moved back to Chicago. They knew help would be needed from their family and friends-rides everyday for 6 weeks of radiation; while Kit was also on chemo.
Kit's strength and determination throughout his recovery was truly inspiring. Just nine weeks after surgery, their wedding went off without a hitch, and was the most amazing day of their lives!!!! Kit skipped radiation on their wedding day so he wouldn't be too tired to enjoy the day. No honeymoon for the newleyweds, as Kit was busy with treatment. Shortly after their wedding they moved into their new home in Arlington Heights.
Rachel & Kit were blessed with a baby boy on April 21, 2008. Bradyn has been the greatest joy of their lives. In the fall of 2009, the Harley's found out they were expecting again...Rachel is due in May 2010 with a baby girl.
March 2009 marked 2 years since Kit's surgery. He had finished 24 months of Temodar Chemo, and an MRI showed the tumor started growing. At that point IV chemo, Avastin and CPT11 was started. A couple of months went by, and due to some mobility deficits, an MRI was repeated, showing more growth. Kit explored and tried various research and treatment options and continued his fight everyday with strength and determination. In November 2009, Kit's condition began to deteriorate at a rapid rate.
On March 27 2010 Kit Harley lost his three year battle against brain cancer. Kit took his final breath with wife Rachel, family, and friends by his side. Kit's strength and courage throughout the past 3 years have been an inspiration to all who have known him. His courageous fight will live on through this foundation and continue to be our driving force to touch the lives of others fighting the same fight.
Board of Directors:
Heather Stotts 312-925-9342
Anne Boatwright 773-627-2192
John Stotts (773-301-1223)