Plymouth Meeting nonprofit sends families battling cancer on respite trips

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A Montgomery County woman honored her late husband by starting a nonprofit that has helped more than 10,000 cancer patients over the past 20 years.

Looking at a picture of her late husband Pete, Marci Schankweiler was transported to a time 22 years ago when he was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 29.

"Pete gave me a great gift. He gave me the gift of perspective," said Schankweiler.

She recalls that toward the end of Pete's life, the couple's friends held a fundraiser and sent them on a trip to the Caribbean.

"Our time away helped us really focus on our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being on the rest of the journey," she said.

It's a gift Schankweiler realized was invaluable. So after Pete's passing, she started For Pete's Sake Cancer Respite Foundation in Plymouth Meeting to give more young families a break from cancer.

"When you get cancer, the entire family gets cancer," she said.

"You're in the midst of this war and it's just -- do it to it get it done," said Nicole Whalen, a breast cancer survivor.

When Whalen was fighting the disease in 2021, she didn't realize how badly she and her family needed to get away.

"I felt like I didn't breathe for about two weeks," she said.

For Pete's Sake Cancer Respite Foundation sent the Whalens to Woodloch Resort in the Poconos.

The foundation has been exclusively partnering with the resort since the pandemic.

"It was just the most amazing gift that we had been given. We were able to, for the first time, after a year of appointments and surgeries and treatments, just be a family together," she said.

It was a gift to Whalen, and in a sense to Schankweiler as well, who does this all "For Pete's Sake."

"That is really the meaning of giving," Schankweiler said.
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