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Don Litzelman Foundation sets out to help families whose loved ones have cancer

The foundation offers information on cancers, support groups, funding and more.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A helping hand can mean more than you know. 

James Ryan knows that firsthand. In 2019, his ex-wife Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Even though they had been divorced for many years, Ryan went back to New York to care for her during surgery, chemo and radiation.

Ryan says his head was spinning the entire time and he constantly asked himself: "What's the next step? Where can I go to find help?"

He couldn't have answered some of those questions without a helping hand of his own that came from The Don Litzelman Foundation.

Foundation president Brian Kinel says the organization helps families of people diagnosed with cancer find support, so they can focus on caring for their loved ones.

If you go to the foundation's website, you'll find a library of information to help navigate what is often a traumatic experience. 

"We thought that the way we could help the most people would be if we did that research for them," Kinel said.

The goal of the site is for users to walk away knowing more about the type of cancer you or your loved one is battling. Other information includes where to get the best treatment, how to access financial aid and find local support groups to help throughout the journey.

"There are a lot of small organizations just like us that were started because a loved one passed away from cancer," Kinel said.

The foundation's loved one was Don Litzelman, a college friend of Brian and James, who died from brain cancer in 2012.  

"He was a great athlete. He was good-looking, had good grades, he was a leader," said Kinel.

Litzelman's life was the driving force behind something that has become both helpful and hopeful.

"Every day, it gets a little bit better," said Ryan. "Don't give up. Never stop asking questions. Advocate for yourself."

Ryan's ex-wife is now cancer-free, and he's using the foundation's website to help support her on that journey.

If you would like more information about the foundation, click here.

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