What Cancer has done…Part 2











Another great big disclaimer by John.


The thoughts and opinions in this blog are those of John Vogel.  A father of three beautiful little girls and an amazing little boy.  Sometimes I say things that upset individuals.  Sometimes its individuals who are passionate about religion, politics, sometimes it’s family members and friends, sometimes it’s other families that have or are fighting cancer and sometimes it may even be individuals who have just forgotten to eat breakfast and are just a little grumpy (Most important meal of the day by the way!) .  The point I’m trying to make here is in no way do these thoughts and writings represent the opinions of The Get Well Gabby Foundation.  They represent the thoughts and opinions of a dad just trying to get through the day, a dad who at times is just trying to catch his breath, a dad who just wants others out there who have gone through this to realize they might not be the only ones thinking the same things.  The foundation’s mission is to get kids well to make a difference and never let any of these amazing children vanish forever. I just have a somewhat in your face way of expressing that at times. Don’t take your anger out or judge the entire organization for the thoughts of one 40-year-old man who plays to much Xbox and is a Doctor Who and super hero geek!  Help the Foundation and it’ mission.  Believe

Two years down…but who is counting

A while ago I wrote a blog addressing what cancer can do.  I gave my view on what I feel it can do and in this blog I’m going to share what it has done. First I want to cover September 11, 2011 the day we lost Gabby.  I hear this term: Angelversary, I cannot be the only person that can’t stand this word or the whole idea behind it. Let me explain, last year we went away and went off the grid over this day.  We are going away again this year. We are going to try not to be sad and cry the whole time but to have fun, celebrate life like we all should do everyday.  When you lose your child why does the exact day you lost that child become any worse than every day you don’t have her or him?  If I lived that way I would feel equally as bad on 9/12 because now it’s the 2 year, 1 day angelversary! What about October 11? The 2 year 1 month angelversary?  I know some may be offended with my view, but everyday is bad, yes holidays are really bad, but it will be two years in three days since I last touched Gabby but that doesn’t change how bad it hurts 1 year 362 days before the last day I touched her.

So yes we vanish and will vanish for the next week but as I said it’s to remember our daughter and realize how precious and amazing everyday is, no different than any other day. We go away to celebrate Gabby’s life and enjoy things that she would enjoy.

So What Cancer has done?


Where to start.  I lived off of Pepsi the whole time she was sick, Carolynn and I essentially sat on a chair or stayed in bed the entire first year after we lost her.  I gained weight, was diagnosed with diabetes and a week ago was told I may have some issues with my heart.  (Chest pain and all that fun stuff)  So more tests are being scheduled to see why there is a lack of blood flow to the whole heart.  My physical health is suffering as well as my mental health. We are working towards getting better with both through therapy and tests and more tests.

Family and Friends, The most mind boggling effect of all.  I’m going to be extremely broad on this one.  Our families have distanced themselves from Carolynn, the kids, and I. (don’t want to deal with the headaches that go along with being more specific) As far as friends and old neighbors many of them has distanced themselves from us as well.  I was actually at an event in our hometown the other night and I watched as two of our old neighbors walked right by me without saying a word. It really hurt that one particular family would do this because while Gabby was sick she picked out a Disney princess doll that she wanted to give this “friend” of hers. Here was Gabby, sick, dying, she could have anything she wanted and all she wanted to do was give something to another little girl.  I know that family doesn’t realize how special that little Tatiana Disney princess is. It’s probably sitting in a box somewhere.  An amazing act of kindness by an amazing little girl just wasted on individuals who can’t appreciate it.  Hopefully this will leave a lasting impression on the little girl even if her parents can’t appreciate it.

I hear constantly we don’t know what to say, or you’re pushing us away.   Both of these statements are just an excuse. Come up and say what’s up? How hard is that?  As far as us pushing people away, that seems to be the flavor of choice for our families.  Let me make it very clear… we aren’t intending to push anyone away, we just aren’t reaching out. For the last two years we have said it’s a struggle to get out of bed (but we still do), two years of saying you need to reach out to us, two years of not knowing how to help ourselves or our children (but having to lead a “normal” life), two years of missing Gabby every second of every day and people not realizing that what they say or don’t say can affect us in any way possible.  Carolynn’s theory is that people don’t know what our reaction is going to be so they just don’t want to say anything because they don’t know if it’s the right or the wrong thing to say.

Unfortunately we have had people take our words and use them as their own. Argue over irrelevant things like who started a saying (the words I last spoke to my daughter). Use our daughter’s pictures without our permission. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and we love when people share our message but not when they claim our words as their own. We want to make a difference and we want people to help us in our crusade. We have unfortunately been faced with people competing over who hurts more. That has to be one of the craziest things ever.  Everyone on our page or who has followed our story has said that Gabby has touched his or her lives. It is amazing my daughter has touched their lives in one-way shape or form and helped them be a better person. I am always honored and proud of Gabby when I hear these stories. So keep them coming they mean so much to us.  But there have been others, closer individuals who want to tell us how much more they are hurting.  but what they forget is that They get a break from the pain. They don’t wake up every day with the immediate thought of their missing daughter. They don’t open their wallet to pay for gas and cry while looking at their daughter’s picture. They don’t go out and get asked, “how many children do you have?” and get tongue tied over the answer. It will never get easier to have to explain that one of your children isn’t physically with us anymore. A jovial conversation can bring grown men to tears. I find it hard to BELIEVE that everyone else who knew Gabby wakes up and thinks about her constantly throughout the day. Life gets in the way, your own kids come first and that is how it should be. So for those people that think we should be “normal” or that they could possibly hurt worse than us…they need to remember this is not a competition. They need to look in the mirror and tell themselves they are being a Jackass! (This gave me a giggle so it’s staying in.) The first curse that Katie and Madison were allowed to say was Jackass and they referred to Cancer as a Jackass. Katie said it once and wouldn’t say it again. We are so grateful for the friends and family that have stood by our side through the good and the bad. Thank you!




New beginnings

A new baby:
We had a baby boy in January. His name is Alexander Gabriel Vogel. Gabby’s baby brother. We know she was with him when he was born and needed to go to the NICU for additional tests. We also know she was watching over him when we had an ultrasound that showed something on his brain while in utero.  He is completely fine now and growing so fast. He scoots around on his butt instead of crawling just like Gabby did.

A new Job: At 40 I decided I needed to do something I want to do so I left my job at the bank and decided to start over.  I’m working for our local school district assisting teachers. I currently am working in ELL and special Ed classes as a Para educator in second grade I’ll be returning to school to get my Masters degree in elementary education and hopefully be a full time teacher after that.  I love my job. Gabby would have been in second grade. The Motto of the school is Act, Think, and BELIEVE to get big results.  Everyday I see signs of Gabby, and everyday I love life a little more.


Health: With the exception of the diabetes and now the heart thing, we are eating better, staying active and trying to fix ourselves.  I recently decided to come off the anti anxiety and depression medication. After two years of it, I just had enough.  It was my time to realize I can’t hide behind the medication any longer.  I’m still a big believer that it’s needed and can’t stress enough to stay on it if you need it. Believe me I needed it. But with the new job, with the new outlook on life I no longer do.


The Get Well Gabby Foundation

In one year we have with all our supporters help:

  • Issued a $ 125,000 grant to A. I. DuPont Hospital / Nemours in Wilmington, DE for a ground breaking research opportunity for the 4 hospitals in the A.I. DuPont system and funding the ‘Child Life Playroom’ on the oncology floor for the current hospital expansion, set to open spring, 2014.
  • Formed a strategic partnership with Piggy Paint, LLC with the creation of our Pedi-“Cure” Sets benefiting Childhood Cancer Research
  • Hosted our First Annual Holiday Book Drive, collecting over 1,800 new books, donated to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, A. I. DuPont Hospital, and Hershey Medical Center. We also provided catered meals for the oncology floors at all 3 hospitals.
  • Issued our first “Gift From Gabby” through our new partnership with the Wish Upon a Hero Foundation • Sponsored a family of 4 through Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for Christmas 2012.

This year:

  • We have a concert in Ohio with the Gin Blossom’s headlining on September 13th
  • Our 3rd annual 5k coming in Phoenixville on October 6th
  • The first ever Carnival for a Cure in Phoenixville the weekend of October 11-13. We are working with AEB amusements to bring in rides, games, and food vendors for a weekend long event.
  • An Old Fashion Christmas/ breakfast with Santa in the Phoenixville area on December 8th.


With so many exciting things we have going on, we don’t get to stop when we hit a bump in the road. We have to keep moving forward. We don’t get a break and we have committed to growing this foundation and want to make a difference for those other families that are dealing with a childhood cancer diagnosis.


Care Vs. Cure


If I haven’t lost or upset you yet:  Hi!  How you doing? This is going to be a sticky subject.  I’ll start by saying those two words with the word versus between them is just plain silly.   I read a month or two ago someone taking about how a care foundation gets results immediately and you need to care first while a cure was being found.  However they stated that all a cure foundation was going to do was ask you for your money??? Really?  I understand what this person was trying to say but as I looked at the times these care organizations ask for money it was obvious, this statement was not exactly accurate. As I saw them asking for donations as well. Of course we ask for donations, and yes we are focusing on research, however care and cure need to go hand in hand.  Gabby received an ipad from an amazing organization Journey 4 A Cure through their ipads for cancer program. Gabby was in a day hospital for radiation, chemo the works, with the ipad she had something to do, watch etc.  (care)  However without a cure it was temporary, but still vital. This organization also focuses on Cure along with the Care.


I was at an event on Friday and was asked, “How can you give the grants to research and not the families?”  Let me tell you how I addressed that and in order to do so I need to explain:


How is The Get Well Gabby Foundation different?


You won’t hear me compare cure versus care.  I won’t do it.  They should be holding hands the whole time.  When we first started this organization we were told we need to view all other foundations as competition.  We won’t do that. Look at our website, we promote lots of other organizations that can help, organizations that focus on things that we don’t or can’t help with. We are very aware of where our money is going and what it is going to do to change the outcome regarding Childhood Cancer. We have had meetings with executives from hospitals as well as Oncologists to talk about the expected benefits of the donation.


So why research?  I have a family member that had breast cancer. 30 years ago it would have been a death sentence.  Today it’s not.  Why do you think that is?  RESEARCH!! There has been research which leads to better treatments which leads to a mother who is now there for her children.  That’s how it should work.


Gabby started treatment a few days after walking into the hospital. She received essentially the same treatment she would have received 30 years ago had she walked into the hospital. You know why? No research.  It was a rare form?  No money in it for the pharmaceutical companies. Unacceptable.  So when someone tells me that a care organization is more important than a cure organization I smile, and say “how bout this weather?”  Do I think we can cure Cancer by the time I die? I would love to say yes, unfortunately that might not happen.  Gabby was given a 0% chance of survival. If I die and I hear that children with DIPG are now given a 1% chance of survival I’ll die knowing I helped in that fight.


The Get Gabby Foundation needs your help. We need donations so that we can make a difference. We need people to help make our events a success. Why are we doing this? To fight in our daughter’s name to help other families. To change the statistic for children facing this battle. We want to donate towards more research projects. We want to create more child life playrooms or send more kids to Disney that had to leave. Cure and care. Have you spent more than a day in a hospital room? Imagine being five and trapped in a bed?  A little boy has to cancel a trip for an emergency shunt Gabby’s gift is to send him back to Disney to finish his wish.  Cure and Care hand in hand.


I am proud of what we have accomplished, I wish I could go back three years ago and not know what I know now.  I would like to think Gabby would be proud of us. We need your help to grow, please consider donating. Please visit the foundation website and read Gabby’s story in Gabbys Daddy’s blog, put her name in Google: Gabby Vogel and see all the articles, put her name in you tube watch the videos all the supporters have made. Really watch the video titled six candles and no cake on YouTube, and you’ll see an amazing video from the day she was born till the hospital and the effects cancer has on the child, the friends and the family. Share that video! It’s an amazing video, however you have to watch it on a PC for some reason you can’t find it on the mobile version. Contact us, have an event in your state, The Believe in a cure Concert with the Gin Blossoms is being organized by an amazing supporter in Ohio, help us grow, help my daughter’s name live forever.  A year ago someone told us we need to change the name of the foundation, we were told Get Well Gabby is confusing. We were told people think it’s for one little girl.  We thought a lot about it and decided no. We are no longer fighting for Gabby’s life! We are fighting for the family and friends and neighbors children now, we are fighting for all the children fighting or that may  have to fight one day, and we are fighting for your child now. I give you my word and the word of my family we will never give up on fighting for them.  Because Get Well Gabby isn’t about Gabby getting well, that isn’t going to happen, however with your help, with your donations Gabby will help other kids get well and that’s what we are all about:

Helping kids Get Well by CAREing about a CURE.



Believe you can help us make a difference

Believe we can get kids well

Believe we can care

Believe we can help find a cure




John (Gabbys Daddy)




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