Gregory Gill Blessing joined the Cancer Hope Network family before there was Cancer Hope Network, beginning his service as a CHEMOcare volunteer in 1997. For more than a quarter of a century, Greg’s passion for helping others and his dedication to creating hope made him a steady presence at volunteer events and on match visit phone calls.
Greg was a lifelong athlete – playing every sport in high school and college, swimming, running and event competing in the Men’s US Olympic trials for the marathon in 1988. In the 90s, his “Leukemia Limo” shirt was fixture at every race he ran, featuring the names of his doctor, members of his Muehlenberg support group and prayer group. It was an intense source of pride for Greg – “I’m filled with this disease, but I am still here, and still trucking along.” – and a source of encouragement for his fellow racers.
After his passing, his family found awards and medals going back decades. Today, we are pleased to add the Flame of Courage trophy to his “hardware,” recognizing the courage and tenacity he brought to his cancer journey.
Greg was never “not himself.” He was open and authentic, bringing good humor and a straightforward style to each client match. He was disarming and encouraging, looking for the silver lining in any situation. Throughout his tenure, Greg was matched with more than 60 clients, providing hope, insight, and wit! – as only he could.
Treatments for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia have come a long way since Greg was diagnosed in 1994, but advances didn’t stop his service. Greg’s care evolved as the science advanced. He embraced the opportunity to connect with patients desperate to know that a full and fulfilling life with long-term CLL was possible. Even in death, his and his family’s commitment to helping others is evident – raising funds and awareness about the support Cancer Hope Network offers.
Cancer Hope Network is more than a line on a resume or a training to be forgotten shortly after completion. It’s a community of survivors and caregivers, each committed to actively doing something, to making the world a better place for people facing one of life’s darkest moments. Greg was an active and engaged part of that community.
Each year, the Flame of Courage award is presented to an individual who has shown “exceptional courage, spirit, and determination in the face of cancer.” Greg’s courage, and the kindhearted spirit he demonstrated as a member of his faith community and through his service to Cancer Hope Network clients, all while facing life with chronic cancer and multiple recurrences, makes him an extraordinary choice for this award.
We are honored to celebrate Greg’s memory and to honor his courage by presenting this year’s Flame of Courage to his wife of 45 years, Joan, and daughter Sarah.
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