Founder’s Letter

To All Our Helping Hands

It seems like only yesterday, I held an angel in my arms. Twelve years have passed and Desi’s vision is now a reality. Desi’s dream of someday helping those who fall between the cracks, are suffering and lonely, has taken a life of its own.

I’d like to share Desi’s dramatic and heart- warming story with you; but first I would like you to know how important support can be. The only way our family was able to survive this whole ordeal was because of prayers, dinners, and assistance from caring individuals. This is going to be a very hard read; but sometimes out of tragedy comes something good.

Picture yourself with a wonderful and healthy family six- no complaints. Then in 1997, your ten year old has the flu accompanied by stomach pain. She’s an athlete, probably just a virus and a side ache from too much activity, but it persists and pretty soon life as you know it is turned up-side-down. After numerous tests the doctors have a diagnosis – cancer. Your whole family is in a state of unmitigated shock and disbelief; Cancer is the worst word in the dictionary.

For our family, reality set in very quickly as Desi climbed on board the fast paced roller coaster ride through the cancer journey. Surgery, two years of aggressive chemotherapy, radiation, a bone marrow transplant, hundreds of transfusions – the worst nightmare any parent can imagine. And finally, two years later, a very sick child with not much left but hope. As Desi traveled through her cancer journey she shared with me her deepest wish; that we help other children and families going through the same ordeal.

Desi’s love of life, faith and devotion to her friends and family kept her going. That same devotion motivates the volunteers of the Desi Geestman Foundation in assisting the families at the City of Hope and other Pediatric Cancer Centers. This is what the Desi Geestman Foundation is about. We’re here to help these families through this horrible ordeal; so they won’t have to face it alone. With a dedicated volunteer staff and minimal operating costs, we are able to provide services to children suffering from cancer that are not duplicated by any other organization.

I feel honored to be a part of the Foundation and am committed to serving the needs of these families. As Desi’s mother, I lived through the cancer journey and learned first-hand what these families go through. Each time I set foot at the City of Hope, I meet many angels that are dedicating their lives to finding a cure and making a difference in these children’s lives. I can honestly say that the Foundation has grown quickly and is making a difference, but there is a constant flow of emergency requests and growing number of patients. Being able to say, “Yes” to a family is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a volunteer. The look of relief and appreciation in the child’s eyes or on a parents’ face is indescribable.

On behalf of the families the Foundation serves, thank you for touching the lives of children with cancer.


Yours in service,

Ileana Geestman, Founder