July 11, 2011 was the worst day of Jessica Moore-Lane’s life.
It was the first day in her 28 years that the Patrick County, Va. native would have to face the world without her beloved twin brother, Justin Moore, who passed away from cancer.
“I always pictured myself growing up with him and growing old – that’s what I always envisioned,” confessed the Virginia State University alumna, who is the executive assistant to the VP/chief construction officer at the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem (HAWS). “I never imagined my brother wouldn’t be here.”
Moore-Lane and her twin were close. The two talked on the phone on a daily basis and met regularly for lunch. Losing her only sibling was almost unbearable for Moore-Lane.
“A part of me went with him,” she remarked. “You feel alone and you feel like you lost your best friend, basically. Life is very different without him.”
As luck or fate would have it, the one year anniversary of her brother’s death was the beginning of a new chapter for Moore-Lane. On July 11, 2012, she received the articles of incorporation from the Secretary of State, making The Caring Angels Cancer Foundation – which she founded in her brother’s memory – a reality.
“I know it’s something he would want me to do,” related Moore-Lane, who graduated from High Point University in 2010 with a master’s degree in nonprofit management. “It’s something I always wanted to do, I just didn’t have a reason, until now.”
Moore-Lane envisions the organization, which is working to obtain its 501c3 nonprofit status, as a safety net for cancer patients that could help offset the non-medical expenses they often grapple with, including transportation, lodging, food, clothing and miscellaneous household expenses. Having watched her brother, who was too sick to work, struggle to make ends meet, Moore-Lane knows firsthand what a burden even small details can be for someone who is already fighting for his or her life.
“The simplest task, like cleaning the house, can be a struggle,” she related. “It affects people in many ways, not only the people with the cancer, but the family as well. Even the simplest things can turn out to be the most difficult.”
Moore-Lane’s brother lived in Pilot Mountain at the time of his death, and the distance, coupled with the demands of a full time job and caring for her husband and infant daughter, meant that Moore-Lane couldn’t be there for her brother – physically or financially – as much as she would have liked.
“I felt bad because I couldn’t be there like I wanted, and that was one of the regrets that I had. That was one of the reasons that I founded The Caring Angels Cancer Foundation, because that was something I didn’t get to help him with,” she explained. “…I know when you have a disease like that, you think that you’re all alone and you don’t have no one to turn to. We just want people to know that we’re here to help and we do care.”
The organization’s name pays homage to the role Justin now plays in her life.
“He’s my angel,” Moore-Lane declared. “Even though he’s not here, I know he’s with me and that’s why I (named it) The Caring Angels Cancer Foundation.”
Alisa Quick, Moore-Lane’s HAWS colleague and friend, has lent her support to the organization almost since its inception, including helping to organize its first fundraiser, a 5k Walk to Remember that was held at High Point University in October.
“I am always eager to give back to the community, but it hit home for me because I have family members who have struggled with cancer of various types,” said Quick, who serves as director of Human Resources and Public Relations. “I liked what the organization was about, what it stood for. I just thought it could have a real positive impact in the community.”
Moore-Lane hopes to partner with Social Services and other cancer agencies to identify patients that are in need of CACF’s assistance. Her goal is to begin distributing aid, including gas cards, food, utilities assistance – and in the future, co-pay reimbursement – in January. She says founding the organization has helped to give her brother’s death meaning.
“I want it to be as big as the Susan G. Komen foundation,” she declared. “I want it to grow. I want people to know the name and recognize it and be proud of it, to know that the organization is one that is all about the people of the community, and that it really cares about them.”
To make a donation or for more information about the The Caring Angels Cancer Foundation, visit http://caringangelscf.org.