“It was my students’ idea…”

Warwick, NY middle school Ukulele club raises $6,000 for NETRF

Members of the Warwick Middle School Ukulele Club

When middle school chorus teacher Shane’s mom was diagnosed with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer (stage four, grade one) in 2020, the first thing he did was Google it, and NETRF popped up. 

“I am so immensely grateful to find NETRF and have immediate access to such important and incredibly helpful information,” he said. “Neither my mom nor I had ever heard of NETs, and your website was one of the places that gave us exactly what we needed to navigate her diagnosis.”

“My mom has always been my best friend, and this journey has only brought us closer. In the early days of her diagnosis, mom decided that she wanted to focus strictly on health and healing, so I became her healthcare advocate and took charge to learn the intricacies of this complex disease. I made her get four opinions before we did anything,” he added.

Shane with his mom, Ilka

Ilka was originally misdiagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but soon thereafter received the NETs diagnosis. Under the care of Dr. Edward Wolin and Dr. Myron Schwartz at Mt. Sinai, she underwent debulking surgery, had her gall bladder and spleen removed, half her pancreas removed as well as 35 tumors on her liver. 

“I was very honest with my students about my mom’s diagnosis, especially in the beginning, because I was very distracted by her diagnosis and I wanted to make sure they knew that if I was in a bad mood, it’s because I am worried, and I was going to have some tough days. My students have been so kind and compassionate, and for that I’m incredibly grateful.”

 Shane leads a popular Ukulele club at his school, and, this year, they held their very first benefit concert for the community.

“I believe very strongly in giving back to the community and teaching my students about the importance of contributing to the greater good. Each year, we will hold a benefit concert, and this year they told me ‘we want to raise money for the cancer that your mom has.’” 

On June 17th, 80 students from the Warwick Valley Middle School Ukulele club played 21 songs to a packed auditorium. (Watch the concert highlights here.)

The Warwick Middle School Ukulele Club

“They raised over $7500, and we decided to give $6000 to NETRF and use the remaining funds to purchase comfort cart items for Mt. Sinai Children’s Hospital, because cancer affects everyone.”

Ilka is managing her NETs very well with Lanreotide injections. 

“As scary as her diagnosis was, it has brought our relationship to a new level; we are traveling more and just genuinely enjoying this gift of life.”