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2018 Recipients

Please scroll down to read all the stories of our amazing & inspiring recipients



Sandra Letourneau

Manville, RI


I was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in September 2018 during a routine mammogram. My appointment had been previously cancelled twice due to machine malfunction. When rescheduling for the third time, the receptionist asked if I was willing to go to an office further from my home... 15 minutes longer a drive. Otherwise, I would need to be scheduled 3 months out. I said I would absolutely drive a little further to get in sooner, and I will forever be grateful I did. 


The mammogram picked up an abnormal spot. The ultrasound that followed picked up the 2nd tumor in the same breast. Both were small, and I was told I was most likely looking at a double lumpectomy followed by radiation. I felt reassured that it all seemed small and contained. Until the MRI that followed showed 2 additional satellite nodules. The Dr called and explained that I was no longer eligible for lumpectomies... a mastectomy would be necessary to get it all. I was shocked to learn that Stage 1 cancer could result in a mastectomy. But in hindsight, and now 6 weeks post-op, I again find myself extremely grateful that things happened the way they did, because the doctors feel that I do not need follow-up chemo or radiation due to the success of the mastectomy. I will take Tamoxifen for the next 5 years. Reconstruction has been started with a tissue expander, and final implant should be in April of 2019. 


I wish that I could say that I was able to contain all of my fears and stress to the cancer itself. But as any mom and wife will attest to, it was immediately all about my children and husband and the impact it would have on our family. Our family has already been dealt a very tough medical hand. Ten years ago, on my birthday, my oldest daughter, Maddie, then 3, was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. CF is a progressive, degenerative disease, with a current average life expectancy of 35 years old. Maddie has been extremely healthy for a decade because of diligent therapies, precautions, medications, and appointments every 8 weeks at Boston Children's Hospital. We are extremely grateful for the care she has received. But the medical bills that have piled up over the last 10 years are staggering. To hear that more bills were going to be coming in now for the treatment of breast cancer was overwhelming. 


I made a decision after her diagnosis to not return to my teaching career in order to be home full-time and more accessible to Maddie, and our younger daughter, Ellie. CF often results in hospital stays, missed days of school, and at-home IV meds. My staying home seemed necessary. But being unable to live on one income, I decided to take in a few toddlers and offer home daycare. We love our extended daycare family and my job has worked out very well for our family, until the breast cancer. Not being able to lift post-op has left me with weeks of not being able to watch the toddlers, and subsequently no income. Everyone always says not to worry about medical bills, but when they are mounting into the tens of thousands, and continuously increasing, it causes ALOT of worry. Both my husband and I try to live for each day, and to always give our girls memories upon memories. We "always take the trip", because there is no other way to live when your child has a life-threatening illness. But we are plagued with anxiety over how to financially keep our family afloat. 


I am extremely honored to have been chosen to join the CMF family! Each recipient's story, along with Carin's, has moved me and made me further realize that time, especially spent with the ones you love, is the absolute most precious thing we have. I will be forever grateful to CMF for helping to alleviate some financial stress for my family, so that we can focus on each other...and health...and time. 


Jenny Gruslin

Warwick, RI


I was diagnosed in May 2018 with HPV positive (P16) squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue.  As of my first post-treatment PET scan in November 2018, I am cancer free!  


My wife and I have had a lot of challenges over the last two years.  After a very complicated pregnancy, we welcomed our son, Gus, 14 weeks early in February 2017 weighing in at just 2lb 6oz.  In 2015, I had a biopsy for a sore on my tongue that wouldn't heal.  A second biopsy was done in 2016, shortly before I became pregnant.  The area of discomfort persisted, but with a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) I was distracted.  Since I was told that the two biopsies weren't concerning, and our new baby and his medical needs were front and center, I delayed getting it looked at again until January 2018. I needed to see an ENT for some unrelated issues and mentioned it to them.  We followed it for several more weeks, but eventually, I pushed for more aggressive monitoring because I knew in my gut that something was wrong.  


In June 2018, I took part in an immunotherapy study at Dana Farber Cancer Institute which was followed by an aggressive surgery to remove the tumor.  I also had 6 weeks of chemoradiation which ended on August 31, 2018.  On September 10, my FMLA job protection ended and my employer refused to extend it just 8 more weeks. We were left in a very difficult position.  Due to my extended maternity leave, my disability insurance income was running out, and we weren't able to afford the COBRA rates to carry the insurance for the entire family.  Due to my son's medical history and severe food allergies, we had made the decision to keep my wife home with Gus - this was a blessing and a curse.  She was able to bring me to every appointment and all of my treatments which required driving 120 miles round trip every day for months, but now we had no income.


Receiving a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment with young children at home brings a myriad of unique challenges which the Carin MacLean Foundation truly understands.  Thankfully, CMF has been able to alleviate some of the financial strain (and resulting mental anguish) for our family.  The generosity of the donors and the foundation's hard work have helped our family in more ways than we can express.  We are so grateful and incredibly blessed to be chosen as part of the foundation's family.


Thank you to everyone that made this aid possible!


Jenny, Holly, and Gus


The baby came before we were able to get married.  We tied the knot 3 weeks postpartum on March 5, 2017.  I'm so lucky to have Holly.  We have been through so much in our 18 years together.  I'm looking forward to seeing all of Gus's milestones,  growing old, and spending many more wonderful years together.

Teri Segura

Wood River Jct, RI


Heidee Pottker

Providence, RI


My breast cancer diagnosis came as a complete surprise, which I’m sure it does for a lot of people. I had just had a mammogram a few months early, I have no family history of breast cancer and I had nursed all three of my children. When I found a lump on my own, I thought it must be something benign. Within a month it had doubled in size so I made an appointment with my doctor who immediately scheduled another mammogram. Things progressed pretty fast from there and I was diagnosed with Stage 2B breast cancer in May 2018. Instead of planning fun summertime activity for my 11, 6, and 3 year old children I started planning for chemotherapy and doctors visits and the bills started to add up.

A friend reminded me that there was a foundation for Carin that may be able to help me. I was in Carin’s moms group and I remember her journey well. When the foundation told me I was approved for a grant, I cried with gratitude.  It is so wonderful that Carin’s family and friends have used this tragedy to help others with cancer. I feel so blessed to have been chosen!


Dena Davis 

Barrington, RI

My cancer story started like a big unexpected bolt of lightning. I was one of those women who genuinely thought I had zero chance of being diagnosed with cancer, as there is no cancer in my family tree as far back as I know. I didn’t realize that most breast cancer is not genetic.

I am a single mother of two teenage boys and I thought the biggest challenge of my life was behind me: surviving divorce and getting back on my own two feet, creating a new life for myself and my children. After divorce I was without health insurance for 2 years (my ex-husband remarried), and my mammograms lapsed because I just couldn’t afford to go. While I work two jobs, at the time, neither of them provided me with benefits. I was made a “permanent” employee at one of my jobs back in October 2017, got my very own health insurance (yippee), and in March, my mammogram revealed cancer which had spread to my lymph nodes. I can only see this as a kind of “divine intervention” and I am so grateful that no more time passed. (Don’t miss your mammograms, ladies!)

I am currently in the middle of treatment. I am undergoing chemotherapy and will be heading into surgery for a mastectomy at the end of September, followed by radiation. I am continuing to work through my treatments because I do not have disability insurance. In truth, I am glad to work because it gives me something else to focus on. On the financial side, I make just enough to pay my bills and keep food on the table (and cleats on my youngest son). The medical bills continue to pile in and therein lies the problem that I am sure most people have – where is all this extra money going to come from??    

Like many others, I am so incredibly grateful for the generous souls and kind hearts of those at the Carin MacLean Foundation. The willingness of others to step up and give of themselves not only provides emotional strength and support to those suffering, it also creates a chain reaction of love and fighting spirit in survivors. No one asks to be diagnosed with cancer – but it is sure is nice to be able to face it without added worry and fight it like a warrior. I know for me I will be a better person on the other end of this.

Thank You from the bottom of my heart.  

My mom began her journey in June of  2010 with breast cancer, having a right mastectomy and taking Tamoxifen for 5 years. Before the diagnosis, my mom was starting to change her diet and lifestyle, but with the diagnosis the lifestyle became very strict to make herself as healthy as possible. At age 8, I didn’t even really know what cancer was. All I remember was that she told me about having really bad pain in her armpit and the doctors found something they needed to take out. In all honesty, I didn’t even realize it was cancer until years later. Which I think, just from that point in 2010 battling cancer the first time, she never let it take over her life. She still did all of the mom things, worked as much as she could to support her family and did not let it affect her attitude.


As time goes on, although the disease has changed, her attitude remains the same. Now in 2018, she is faced with metastatic breast cancer that has spread to her liver and bones. Her liver was so compromised that there was only one chemo drug that her oncologist thought her liver could handle. So she decided to simultaneously incorporate a naturalpathic protocol as well.  After six days in the hospital, a biliary stent (bile duct stent), four rounds of chemo and 10 radiation sessions and ten more to start on, she is living her life as normal as she possibly can and still with the most positive attitude, that some don’t even realize she’s sick. Along with being a recipient of this grant, she didn’t feel totally worthy enough because she believes she doesn’t look sick enough. This time is a little different than the last. No longer 8, my 16 year old self can give you an overview of the strongest person I know.


Despite the disease, my mom has taught me everything about the rights and wrongs and everything a normal mom would do. But the things that she doesn’t mean to teach stick the longest and make me extremely  grateful to have been blessed with this person as my forever best friend. Once we found out about her condition, the initial was scary. But in what seems like the next day, we were already changing what we were doing even more from the the last health craze. She maintains an incredible healthy lifestyle and attitude to not give the disease an option to win.


My mom believes that the best way to face this tough battle is to be totally strong and not let any fear crush your ability to enjoy any of your todays. I think that is a very important thing I will take with me forever, and everyone should too. One day you can be in the middle of digging the foundation to your brand new home, to getting a scary phone call, to then finally putting in the furniture, and then to trips to radiation. Each day is a new day and you never know what to expect, which is why the most important is to live your life to the fullest and never let fear take over.


Along with dealing with herself, life around never stops. During these tough times, even harder things happened around her like deaths of very close friends and family, her two kids growing up, and discovering herself and realizing that life is too short to have any part be unhappy if it can be changed. On behalf of me, my mom, and the rest of our family and friends we want to thank The Carin MacLean Foundation for your generosity.


Isabela Segura - Daughter


Barbara Crowley

N. Attleboro, MA

My mom, Barbara, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. After 2 lumpectomies, a mastectomy, chemo, radiation and some complications we thought she was free of cancer.

In 2013 she was diagnosed again with metastatic breast cancer. She now has it in her bones, lymph nodes around her intestines and brain and spinal fluid. She has had stomach and brain surgery and been on many different chemos and had radiation for her bones.


This past November she had a chemo that was so toxic she almost didn't make it. She had many complications and was comatose for 2 weeks and was in the hospital throughout the holidays and came home New Year's Eve and was doing really well after everything she'd been through. She fought through it all.


On January 18 on her way back from Dana Farber, my mother and  Dad got in a serious car accident that fractured her hip and caused severe pain throughout her right leg. She had surgery to put pins in. She unfortunately had complications arise while recovering from surgery in the hospital and has been there since the accident. She is defying the odds and continues to fight everyday and we can't wait to finally have her home again.


During all this she lost her beloved brother Richard. She is the absolute strongest person I know and was always my hero but now more than ever. She amazes me everyday.


- Sarah Crowley, daughter

Barbara passed on Thursday, June 14, 2018 after a long battle with breast cancer.

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