Joe and Kathy are doing something.
Not unlike many members of the CBTP Family Council, Kathy and Joe Arabia had never heard the words “gliomatosis cerebri” until their daughter, Anna Yan Ji, was diagnosed with the terminal brain tumor in 2009.
“When we started our journey, we could not find anyone else who had been diagnosed with the same disease. As many do, we reached out to the internet and social media,” said Kathy. “At the time there was no research being done on this disease and no existing online community where gliomatosis cerebri families could connect. After three years they were so happy to connect with Emmie Hill and Elizabeth’s Hope.”
A few more families connected shortly thereafter and the dedicated Facebook group, The GC Connection, was created. The Arabias were instrumental in connecting with physicians and researchers to advocate for and support the first GC International Conference in 2015. This conference helped connect GC families, researchers, and physicians in a united effort for the first time, creating avenues for sharing information around the world.
“At the time, we found that there was very little information available to families like ours,” said Kathy. “We are pleased to say this is no longer the case.”
Anna was only 16 years old when she became an angel on Valentine’s Day 2013, filled with love and grace.
Losing Anna left Kathy and Joe with a need to do something more. They launched the AYJ Fund with the purpose of bringing smiles to kids with cancer, connecting kids with school and friends through technology, and supporting research for gliomatosis cerebri and other brain cancers.
In addition to running the AYJ Fund and hosting fundraisers throughout the year, they are extremely active with GC Global, both in planning the bi-annual conference and in keeping the Facebook page up to date. Kathy can be found adding new members, posting news items, or sharing awareness activities at all hours of the day.
Somehow the Arabias also find time to deliver on their annual holiday backpack program. This holiday season they have been busy sending packages out to hundreds of children in treatment for brain tumors. The Children’s Brain Tumor Project has helped distribute these bags full of goodies to children in the clinic every holiday season.
The AYJ Fund enables Kathy and Joe to continue honoring Anna’s love of helping others. It is their way of doing something, and it is making an impact in the lives of children with brain cancer.