Colon Cancer Survivor Kendall Bello: Early Detection is a Must

Guest speaker Kendall Bello with her husband Patrick, at the JAACF org annual dinner.

Guest speaker Kendall Bello with her husband Patrick, at the JAACF org annual dinner. Photo by Jacqueline Agentis

Colon Cancer Survivor Kendall Bello of Bucks County gestures triumph and thankfulness after her speech.

Colon Cancer Survivor Kendall Bello of Bucks County gestures triumph and thankfulness after her speech. Photo by Jacqueline Agentis

BETHLEHEM, PA (APRIL 11, 2017) – A Global Dinner Gala, to benefit the Judith Adele Agentis Charitable Foundation, brought 125 guests out to a lively evening of entertainment, international cuisine and auction items at Blue Event Center, on March 16.

The gala helped raised funds for early cancer detection education, and hospice meals.  Ashely Russo of ASR Media and The Peak TV served as emcee.

 Featured guest speaker was Kendall Bello, a resident of Yardley, PA in Bucks County. Kendall is a mother, wife, daughter, avid equestrian, friend, and recent colon cancer survivor.

Her poignant speech earned a standing ovation. Here, is what she told the guests about why she believes early detection cancer testing is paramount.

“I’m here to tell you why early detection is so important. I’m living proof that waiting until the recommended time for a colonoscopy, which is fifty years of age, may for some people, be too late.

Personally, I saw no need to have testing before age fifty since there was no prior history of colon cancer, or any cancer at all in my family history.

On June 7th, 2015, I was experiencing a bowel obstruction causing me to visit St. Mary’s Medical Center emergency room. At that time, I was sent home with instructions to follow hoping it would resolve the problem, unfortunately it did not. I went back to the emergency room the following evening, and again I was sent home with more instructions to follow. To no avail. Nothing was resolving the issue. That evening I received a phone call from a doctor at St. Mary’s whom I had never met or had seen in the ER. She said that she had come across my chart and that I needed to come back to the hospital ASAP.

Upon arrival they began a series of testing. One of which was a CAT scan, which came back showing no obvious cause.  The next test was a colonoscopy which identified a cancerous tumor. The doctors explained the situation to my husband and me, which unfortunately I did not fully comprehend. At this point, I was very weak and a little disoriented due to being obstructed for a week. There were various opinions among the doctors on how to proceed.

It was Dr. Goldstein, head of the Colon Rectal department, who decided that I needed emergency surgery. The surgery lasted five and a half hours to remove a cancerous tumor in my colon and insert an ostomy.

Upon awakening, my life as I knew it was drastically changed. Not only fully understanding at this point that it was a cancerous tumor which was stage 2A, but that I would be living with an ostomy for the next seven months. It was a lot to absorb both physically and mentally.  The good news was that the tumor had not broken completely through the colon wall and was not present in any other organs. The tumor was uniquely located, and that is why it was not showing up on any of the scans. Since the surgery was very extensive I was very weak, so my doctors decided it was best to leave the wound open to heal verses going back into surgery again to close it.

So, after two weeks in the hospital, I was sent home with a Wound Vac which is a machine that is attached to the incision to help the wound heal faster. The wound remained open for three months until it finally healed. I had nurses three to four times a week, coming to our home to change the dressing for the next three months.

Simultaneously, I had the decision as to whether or not to undergo chemotherapy. Since there is no conclusive research as far as stage 2a colon cancer goes, it made the decision that much more difficult. Ultimately, I decided to proceed with the chemotherapy for six months, with infusions every other Monday. Going into the chemo, I wasn’t aware of how relentless it was going to be to go through the 2 week cycles. Essentially, I felt sick for the first week and a half after each treatment, then had a couple of good days and went right back into the cycle again.

After six months of that and the initial surgery, somehow I made it through.

Post chemo, in February of 2016 I had surgery to reconnect the colon which also meant removing the ostomy which meant I was beyond thrilled. However, I didn’t realize what a tough recovery that would be. It took my colon quite a while to “wake up” as they say, and then came the long haul of figuring out what I could and could not eat to avoid the major pain that it sometimes caused.

I then was diagnosed with post surgical hernias in the fall of 2016. I had the hernia surgery this past January 30th 2017. The recovery was about six weeks which leads me to today.  I am cancer-free and have been given the green light to be able to ride my horse and get back into training and competing.

I also would like to mention a very important aspect to all of this as well. This disease not only effects the person that is diagnosed, but effects the family members in a very traumatic way. To see how difficult it was for all of them broke my heart. My husband, mother and father were there with me through this entire ordeal which I could not have done without them.  To watch my 10-year-old son watch his mother go through this is something that I hope no one has to experience. I can’t stress enough how important it is to get a colonoscopy by 50, however I’m an advocate for getting one in your 40’s if possible based on my on experience. I was very happy to see a couple weeks ago that The Washington Post reported about a study that was published February 28th in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute which indicates colorectal cancer rates are rising sharply among Gen X and millennials. One conclusion in that study is that colonoscopy guidelines need to be re-examined based on the increase in incidents in people under fifty.

I want to thank my medical team at St. Mary’s Hospital, and Dr. Richard Goldstein head of the colon rectal department, Dr. Dan Lebovic my oncologist, and everyone in-between who helped save my life.

I also want to give a big thanks to Tina and Bob Agents for running such a wonderful foundation and hosting an amazing event. Bringing attention to how important early detection is in saving lives and providing meals and support to the families with loved ones going through treatment and fighting this terrible disease could not be a more noble cause.

As a final point, my experience has taught me a great deal about myself. One’s natural inclination is to ask God why he is putting us through trials and tribulations. And I did ask that at times, but in the end, I choose not to focus on that, I choose to thank God:

  • For blessing me with a tumor that obstructed which led to early detection, resulting in discovering it prior to when the stages would have been more dangerous.
  • For keeping the tumor in my colon and not allowing it to spread into other organs.
  • For allowing the surgeons to be able to remove the entire tumor safely.
  • For allowing my colon tissue to be strong enough for the surgeons to reconnect it.
  • For allowing me to get through the chemotherapy.
  • And finally, for allowing me to stand here before you as a cancer survivor.

I choose to be thankful to God.

Thank you again for listening to my story.” 

The Judith Adele Agentis Charitable Foundation is a Lehigh Valley–based 5013c nonprofit. For more information, email ba.jaacf@gmail.com, visit www.jaacf.org, or call 610-392-5460. Follow on Facebook at JAACF org, or Twitter at @Jaacforg.

Sponsorship Levels for Global Dinner Gala, March 2017

Sponsorship Levels for Global Gala Dinner, March 16, 2017

Sponsorship Levels for Global Gala Dinner, March 16, 2017

The Judith Adele Agentis Charitable Foundation (JAACF) was founded in memory of Judith Agentis, a wife, mother, and grandmother who lost her battle with pancreatic cancer on January 10, 2013 shortly after her diagnosis.

Fulfilling the mission of the Foundation, weekly trips are made to St. Luke’s Hospice to comfort grieving families with meals donated in part by generous Lehigh Valley Restaurants. Proceeds to date have ensured nearly 9,000 meals delivered to St. Luke’s Hospice house for those holding vigil.

JAACF also provides cancer detection screenings for un-insured and under-insured individual, especially those with a high risk family history. Stay tuned for more news concerning this mission.

AVAILABLE SPONSORSHIPS for our upcoming fundraising event at Blue Grillhouse located at 4431 Easton Ave., Bethlehem, PA on March 16, 2017.

The Global Gala Dinner is set to be a tour of the senses and will feature a distinct international menu charted by Chef Patrick Barber and a wine tasting.  The evening’s emcee is Ashley Russo, of Emmy winning Peak TV.  A festive mix of music and culture promises to surprise.

Celestial – Event Sponsor ($2,000):

  • Sponsor Banner

  • Preferred seating and table wine

  • Eight (8) tickets

  • Exhibit table

  • Logo at event and on all marketing materials

  • Recognition in all press coverage including professional photos

  • Recognition on JAACF website and social media channels

  • Welcome message at the event by emcee Ashley Russo of Peak TV

Compass – Dinner Sponsor ($1,200):

  • Sponsor Poster

  • Six ( 6) tickets

  • Preferred seating and table wine

  • Logo at event and on all marketing materials

  • Recognition on JAACF website and social media channels

Bearings – Sponsor ($600):

  • Four (4) tickets

  • Logo at event and on all marketing materials

  • Recognition on JAACF website and social media channels

Azimuth – JAACF ($250):

  • Two (2) tickets

  • Recognition on JAACF website and social media channels

Sojourn – Dinner Ticket ($90.00)

Judie’s Table Captain ($500.00):

  • Purchase of 50 Exceptional Dinners for Family Members Holding Vigil at Hospice

  • Named in honor of a loved one

Judie’s Table Pilot ($250.00):

  • Purchase of 25 Exceptional Dinners for Family Members Holding Vigil at Hospice

  • Named in honor of a loved one

For more information or to secure your sponsorship, call Bob Agentis at 610.392.5460, email ba.jaacf@gmail.com, or circle your desired level and return with payment to the address listed below.  JAACF is a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization and donations are tax deductible as allowed.

Name: ________________________________________________________________________ Phone:  ______________________________________________

Address:  ____________________________________________________________________ Email:  _______________________________________________

Enclosed is my payment of:  $_______________________ I am unable to attend, please accept my donation of:  $_____________________

 

Pop Up Happy Hour to Benefit JAACF Early Detection Efforts

 

PopUp Happy Hour at Adagio will feature appetizers from Adagio, and beverage tastings.

PopUp Happy Hour at Adagio will feature appetizers from Adagio, and beverage tastings.

BETHLEHEM, PA (IMMEDIATE RELEASE) – A benefit Pop Up Happy Hour, hosted by the Judith Adele Agentis Charitable Foundation (JAACF), will be held Wednesday, November 16, 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Adagio Seafood Restaurant, 530 Pembroke Road, Bethlehem, PA.

Tickets are $10 per person and include Tito’s Vodka and Blue Coat Gin tastings from BreakThru Beverages, cocktails masterfully mixed by County Seat Spirits of Allentown, and wine tastings. Appetizers will be provided by Adagio Seafood.

A Chinese auction will be held to benefit JAACF’s mission to provide early detection screenings for the at risk, and the under-insured.

Tickets will be available at the door, or online at http://go.activecalendar.com/JAACF/event/pop-up-happy-hour-to-benefit-judith-adele-agentis-charitable-foundation/

November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and information about early detection and testing will be available.

JAACF provides weekly, nourishing meals to Hospice House. The Lehigh Valley based non-profit has donated more than 8,000 meals to families holding vigil for loved one’s at Hospice House of St. Luke’s, Bethlehem.

For more information about the JAACF, established to provide meals to hospice centers and to provide testing, early detection, awareness and education about Pancreatic and Liver and Colon Cancers, visit www.jaacf.org, on Facebook /JAACF or Twitter @JAACF org.

 

 

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October Marks 8,000 Meals Delivered to St. Luke’s Hospice Families

Top Cut Steak House Joins Judith Adele Agentis Charitable Foundation for Hospice Meal Donations  

bob-agentis-and-top-cut-chef-chris-dalrymple-pg

Bob Agentis, left, Founder of JAACF org and Judie’s Table, with Chef Chris Dalrymple, of Top Cut Steak House.

Photo by Jacqueline Agentis

BETHLEHEM, PA (October 20, 2016) — Top Cut Steak House, one of the newest and swankiest fine restaurants in the Lehigh Valley, will be joining its sister resturants – Blue Grillhouse, Melt Grill, and Torre Mexican Restaurant in helping others in the community.

Top Cut, which opened in August above Melt Grill at the Promenade Shoppes, Center Valley, is one of five restaurants in the Paxos Group portfolio.

Top Cut chefs donated a delicious lunch of Petite Crab Cakes with Corn Salsa, and Top Cut Chopped Salad with Avocado, for 30 people to St. Luke’s Hospice, Thursday, October 20, at 12 noon.

Lehigh Valley businesses interested in learning how to donate healthy, prepared meals to families on behalf of JAACF, please contact Bob Agentis, founder, at ba.jaacf@gmail.com

“For those spending the last precious days, hours, moments with their loved ones, food is often the last thing on their minds,” says Bob Agentis, founder of the Judith Adele Agentis Charitable Foundation (JAACF), who survived solely on crackers for nearly a week as he held vigil for his beloved wife, Judith, while she was in hospice.

Following the passing of Judith Agentis, at age 64, January 2013, Bob Agentis founded the Judith Adele Agentis Charitable Foundation (JAACF) and has since rallied a growing list of the most notable Lehigh Valley restaurants to fill this often little recognized yet very big need.

Lehigh Valley businesses interested in learning how to donate healthy, prepared meals to families on behalf of JAACF, please contact Bob Agentis, founder, at ba.jaacf@gmail.com

Families don’t leave the hospice center, and it helps them feel better to be able to come over and have a nice meal and talk to others while they are here.” says Judy Scott, patient care manager at St. Luke’s Hospice House.

 Every Thursday, Agentis delivers, with quiet honor, a buffet for 30 to 50 people.

This October marks the 8,000th meal donated through JAACF to St. Luke’s VNA Hospice, Bethlehem

 “The list of donor partners has grown to 62 area restaurants, and these are some of the finest businesses in the Lehigh Valley,” observes Agentis.  He adds, “After a business donates for the first time, they often ask, when our business can donate again?”

Other loyal donor restaurants for JAACF include: The Apollo Grill, Corked Steak and Wine Bar, Edge, The Mint Gastropub, The Hamilton Kitchen and Bar, Tapas on Main, Panera Bread, and Yianni’s Taverna.   The families visiting loved ones at hospice are more than grateful for the delicious meal, and have expressed their appreciation in donations, thank-you cards and well wishes weeks later on Facebook.

Agentis and the JAACF earned the Heart of Hospice Award from the Pennsylvania Hospice Network, 2014, and the Shining Star Award from St. Luke’s Health Network, 2014. The nonprofit also recently earned a grant from Just Born, Inc.

Dyanne Holt, a co-owner of Apollo Grill, says, “This is a notable charitable foundation with an excellent mission. The foundation recognizes the need that family members here at hospice need to nourish the whole body and soul. Providing fine food is one way to help them do that.”

“Hospice is important; they help make you ready and help make your loved one comfortable,” adds Holt, who has experienced having two of her own family members in hospice.

Lehigh Valley businesses interested in learning how to donate healthy, prepared meals to families on behalf of JAACF, please contact Bob Agentis, founder, at ba.jaacf@gmail.com

 

For more information about the JAACF, established to provide meals to hospice centers and to provide testing, early detection, awareness and education about Pancreatic and Liver and Colon Cancers, visitwww.JAACF.org, Facebook /JAACF or Twitter @JAACF org.