Some families give gifts or exchange cards on Mother's Day, but the Lansciardi family has a different tradition: On the second Sunday of May, they give to Virginia Mason.
When Jim Lansciardi lost his mother to pancreatic cancer in 2014, he started the Marilyn Lansciardi Pancreatic Cancer Fund in her honor. Now, he encourages his family and friends to donate to this fund around Mother's Day, and other holidays, too.
“Rather than exchanging material things, this is a way to support something that really matters,” Jim says. “It's our way of honoring her and keeping her with us while fighting against this terrible disease.”
Jim says Marilyn was a loving mother who enjoyed traveling, spending time with family, and simple pleasures like good food and Italian wine. She also loved to sing, even throughout her cancer treatments. Jim fondly remembers a time when Marilyn and her oncologist, Vincent Picozzi, MD, were talking about songs they knew. Dr. Picozzi sang a few lines of one song and Marilyn followed up with another few lines. The two of them finished out the song in perfect harmony and the whole office applauded.
“My mom looked forward to going in for treatments because her care team was so thoughtful and caring,” Jim says. “From the parking attendants to the doctors, everyone made her feel comfortable — especially Dr. Picozzi.”
So far, the Lansciardi fund has brought in more than $75,000 to Virginia Mason's pancreatic cancer program. Jim's cousin, Avalonne Blondo, recently boosted these efforts by creating a CrowdRise page, which she shared with friends and on social media on what would have been Marilyn's 80th birthday — and raised more than $2,500.
“She was the most loving and generous person I've ever met — the kind of person I want to be and someone my kids looked up to,” Avalonne says. “When you lose someone like that, you feel like there's nothing you can do. But giving Virginia Mason a little extra support to help someone else who is sick makes us feel like we can make a difference.”
Jim and Avalonne hope their fund supports families dealing with pancreatic cancer, whether that means offering financial support for patients or fueling research for the next generation of therapies.
“Dr. Picozzi and his team's dedication made all the difference for my mother,” Jim says. “We hope this funding helps them continue to do what they do best — Provide excellent and compassionate care.”