SEVIER COUNTY - Twenty moms with breast cancer are in Sevier County this week for a "Vacation Away from Cancer."
It's part of the nonprofit Leslie's Week, which provides free vacations for women diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer and their families.
Sandra Gunn, a breast cancer survivor, founded the organization after losing a close friend to breast cancer. She started by donating her own rental cabin in East Tennessee to a woman with stage 4 breast cancer. Now the nonprofit has grown to include hotel resorts and vacation homes nationwide to give the families a break from dealing with the disease.
"I decided I was going to do something for stage 4 women who are really the forgotten women in the breast cancer community because they are terminal," Gunn said.
The families are staying at Dollywood's DreamMore Resort and Spa this week. They will also enjoy time at the Dollywood theme park, Dollywood's Splash County water park, the County Tonite Theatre and the moms will enjoy a spa day.
"They're away from cancer and doctors and therapies, and it means a great deal to them because this is where they make memories that outlast cancer," Gunn said.
Maribel Rincon and her family came from Rhode Island to take part in the vacation. Maribel was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2015, and it's a disease that has changed her family and her outlook on life.
"I just see my kids, and I believe that staying positive is going to allow me to continue living a lot longer," Maribel said.
Maribel and her husband, Jesus, are both in the U.S. Navy. This week they are hoping to take a break from their busy schedules, the heartache and the treatments.
"This is just nice to be out here just forget about all those things," Jesus said, "and you know, just kind of live worry free for a little bit, you know, that's nice."
Maribel, like the other women on this journey, want to treasure the time they have with their families this week and the memories that they hope to see continue.
"I want to see them [my kids] graduate high school, go to college," Maribel said. "You just gotta keep going."
Gunn said the non-profit can always use donations and sponsors to continue the trips as the organization has grown from five families last year to 20 families this year.
Leslie's Week also has an educational assistance fund for the children of women who have lost their lives to cancer. It provides a scholarship to those children if they go to an institution of higher learning.
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