Standing Up For Dad
Posted on June 13, 2017, 5:30 PM
One in two men in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. These men are our fathers, our brothers, our friends and our heroes. For Stand Up To Cancer employees Lauren Lewis and Frederick Johnson, those men were their dads. In honor of Father’s Day, they are sharing their stories and some of the personal reasons behind their work at Stand Up To Cancer.
Joe MacGillivray, Lauren Lewis’ father, was born in Nova Scotia. As one of 12 kids, Joe’s family was a paramount part of his life. Lauren fondly remembers the huge family gatherings her father would host at their home. “There would be upwards of 70 people at our family events, and our house was not that big.” Lauren says with a laugh. “But, my dad always made it work. He was an all-around thoughtful guy, who was happiest when surrounded by family.”
SU2C Employee Lauren with her father, Joe.
Frederick Johnson describes his dad, Frederick Sr. as an out of the box thinker who lived a very colorful life. Raised by a single mom in Philadelphia, Frederick Sr. was one of seven kids. A gifted jazz musician, he spent much of his life playing in jazz clubs and later became a new age religious science minister. Frederick spent much of his childhood watching his dad perform and remembers church often being held at their home. “I always felt like my father had a vision of the kind of life he wanted to create for himself and others,” Frederick remembers. “I was fortunate to see him help a lot of people through his music and his ministry.”
SU2C employee Frederick (left) with his father, Frederick Sr.
In 2008 Frederick’s father was diagnosed with colon cancer. The time between his cancer diagnosis and death was short. “My dad was diagnosed with cancer, shortly after his wife of fourteen years had passed away from brain cancer,” Frederick remembers. “He declined treatment, so we did our best to make him as comfortable as we could.” Frederick was 37 when his father passed away. A year later, a temporary job assignment with the Entertainment Industry Foundation would bring him to Stand Up To Cancer, something he calls, an incredible life experience in itself.
Lauren’s father, Joe, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer when she was 20 years old. Along with her sister and mother, they approached his diagnosis as a family. “I was fortunate enough to attend many of his oncologist appointments with him,” Lauren recalls. “I wanted to know everything about his diagnosis and what we could do to treat it.” A few years later, Lauren would tune in to watch the very first Stand Up To Cancer live telecast. Moved by Stand Up To Cancer’s commitment to collaborative patient-focused research, Lauren made this her very first charitable donation. While her father eventually succumbed to cancer, Lauren’s determination to honor his legacy and support collaborative research continues in her work with SU2C today.
Both Frederick and Lauren agree that being a part of the Stand Up To Cancer team is more than just a job. “My father’s oncologist is now a member of an SU2C Dream Team,” Lauren says. “I got to personally thank him for all the good he did for my dad and for everything he’s doing now to help make cancer something everyone can survive.” Knowing that 100% of the public donations it receives go directly to collaborative research and hearing about progress, especially during the SU2C live telecasts has been a highlight for them both.
SU2C employees Lauren (left) and Frederick (right) sporting SU2C gear!
On the anniversary of Frederick’s first year working with SU2C, he attended the 2010 live telecast, a culmination of months of hard work. As he watched the show, Frederick noticed a photo of his father onscreen that moved him to tears. “It was a moment I will never forget,” Frederick remembers. “Not only was I able to find closure and honor my father’s memory, but working for this incredible initiative gives me the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to something that is making a real impact.”
“There are so many people affected by this disease, that I think continuing to make cancer research a top tier conversation in this country should be a priority,“ Lauren says.
“I just want to see a world where every cancer patient survives,” Frederick says. Lauren agrees. When asked who they stand up for, the answer is once again, unanimous. They continue to stand up for the two men who made a lasting impact on their lives.
“I stand up for my dad, still,” Lauren says.
Frederick nods, “Me too.”
Shop the merch Lauren and Frederick are wearing above (and more) at the SU2C shop.
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- SU2C’s Scientific Partner Reports on Progress in the Struggle Against Cancer
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- SU2C’s Research in the Fight Against Glioblastoma and Other Brain Cancers
- Honoring a Loved One Through Fundraising
- How to Become an Empowered Cancer Patient