Full Circle, Full Life

Bass Center for Childhood Cancer nursing leader helps patients even during her downtime.

Rachel Frisch, BSN, RN, BMTCN, assistant patient care manager, recently brought her nursing passion full circle by organizing a fundraiser for childhood cancer. The money raised will help the very families she sees every day as a nurse leader in Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford’s Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases.

“This is the first fundraiser I’ve ever led,” says Frisch. “I wanted to give back to the unit that has given me so much and is so dear to my heart.”

Frisch brought her two loves together—caring for children with cancer and working out—to set the fundraiser in motion. Orangetheory Fitness, with approximately 20 studios in the Bay Area, is known for hosting fundraisers to help the communities they serve.

“My local gym does lots of fundraisers, so I suggested they do one for pediatric cancer,” Frisch says.

Before she knew it, she was in charge. She teamed up with a mom of a child who had received care from the Bass Center in the past—another full-circle moment—and the two set out to organize the event, where all proceeds from a 90-minute fitness class at 11 area studios will go to support patients and families at the Bass Center and also Jacob’s Heart, a children’s cancer support organization in Watsonville, California.

Frisch marvels at how people are always surprised when she tells them that childhood cancer is much more common than they might think. According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization, 43 children are diagnosed with cancer every day in the United States, or one every 33 minutes. 

“Yet cancer research for kids receives just 4% of the annual budget from the National Institutes of Health,” Frisch adds.

Working out together for childhood cancer

Frisch is thrilled by the turnout from her Packard Children’s co-workers, with several dozen attending a fitness class at her local studio. As of Sept. 15, the monthlong fundraiser’s halfway point, over $4,000 was raised for the Bass Center alone. People who attended the class have been very generous, giving gifts from $25 to $500 per class.

Frisch asked that the money be split between two programs that provide direct support to patients and families: Social Services and Child Life and Creative Arts.

“I wanted the money to go directly to patients and families. Child Life could use the money to provide kids and siblings with toys at Christmas or for art and music supplies, while Social Work might buy gift cards to give to families with children in the hospital for gas, food, rides, and even hotel stays,” Frisch says.

“The money from Rachel’s efforts will allow our families in the Bass Center to focus solely on being patients and caregivers, rather than worrying about finding a ride to the hospital or figuring out where to eat for dinner,” says Brandon Porter, MSN, RN, CPN, CNML, patient care manager of the Bass Center.

A decade of nursing at the Bass Center

Frisch knew from the start of her nursing career that she wanted to work in pediatric oncology. She found Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford as a traveling nurse in 2010 and accepted a permanent position at the Bass Center in 2011.

Frisch spent years as a night nurse before she took on a nurse leadership role over two years ago. She oversaw the transformation of the Bass Center as it moved to its new, much larger and brighter space, and she is meeting the tribulations of COVID-19. 

“Kids with cancer are so resilient and special. Despite not feeling well, many want to play and interact. They look past their illness in ways adults can’t,” she says.

Frisch is one of about 120 nurses who work at the Bass Center. She is always impressed by her fellow nurses, who she describes as selfless and always willing to jump in and support each other. Porter describes Bass Center nurses as passionate about patient care, always going the extra mile to meet patient and family needs.

“Rachel has a strong ability to see the big picture of childhood cancer. This fundraiser is a good example of that,” he adds.

Frisch’s two loves—her work and working out—brought about a third love for yet another full-circle moment. She’s engaged to be married this coming February. Her fiancé, Justin, is a head coach at the Campbell, California, Orangetheory studio where she works out and, yes, where they met. He took his soon-to-be vows to heart by adopting her passion for caring for children with cancer and their families.

Want to join in?

There’s still time to attend a class and support Frisch’s fundraiser and local families of children with cancer. Contact an Orangetheory Fitness studio near you to sign up, or visit our Facebook event to view studio sessions on select dates and times. Several studios are holding the fundraising class—open to the public—the last weekend in September. If you miss the class, you are still welcome to donate. Also, watch for a repeat next fall. Frisch hopes to make the fundraiser an annual event.


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