Omahan Jennifer Stauss Windrum is on a mission to remind people that no one fights cancer alone.
To create awareness about lung cancer, she created “Where’s the Funding,” an online campaign that uses the initials “WTF.”
Some might think the initials are crude. But the 41-year-old says she started the politically incorrect campaign to get people’s attention to the No. 1 cancer killer in the U.S. and the most underfunded. The Lung Cancer Foundation has partnered with her to raise funds for more lung cancer research.
Her mother, Leslie Lehrman, is her inspiration. She’s photographed above.
She’s a lifelong nonsmoker diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer — “inoperable, incurable” — in 2005 after fighting uterine cancer. Lehrman, a former Gothenburg, Neb., hairdresser, now lives in Arizona.
Jennifer hopes to rid the stigma that lung cancer is solely associated with smoking.
Anyone can get lung cancer, she said.
She promised her mother she would tell others about the need for early detection of lung cancer, better screenings and to raise money to support more research for a cure.
Jennifer’s ailing mother is miles away, and that’s been a difficult challenge for her to overcome.
“It’s hard to be there for someone when you’re so far away,” she said.
Jennifer didn’t want her mom to feel alone. So she gave her two sock monkeys that her daughters had previously given her.
Those sock monkeys became her mom’s companions, and spark that lead Jennifer to create the SMAC! Sock Monkeys Against Cancer product line.
She launched a fund raising startup on Nov. 1 to secure funding for the SMAC! monkey prototypes: NoMo and Phoenix. She raised nearly $11,000 within the first week of her launch.
As of Nov. 14, she’s raised $18,000 but needs $35,000 by the month’s end to officially launch the line.
Her goal is to create a custom monkey for each type of cancer. She’d also like to follow the TOMS Shoes business model — for every monkey purchased, a second monkey will go to someone who suffers from cancer.
When asked if she thinks she’ll reach her month’s end goal, Jennifer said “I’m going to make sure of it.”
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Have you been or known someone affected by cancer?
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