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Welcome Debbie's Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer
Debbie's Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer is dedicated to raising awareness about stomach cancer, advancing funding for research, and providing education and support internationally to patients, families, and caregivers. DDF seeks as its ultimate goal to make the cure for stomach cancer a reality.
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About Us

Debbie's Dream Foundation - Our Mission

Debbie's Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about stomach cancer, advancing funding for research, and providing education and support internationally to patients, families, and caregivers. DDF seeks as its ultimate goal to make the cure for stomach cancer a reality.

Click on the link below to view the DDF Foundation Brochure.


Our Vision is that stomach cancer will no longer be fatal. If not curable, it will be a manageable disease.

DDF Organizational Structure

We believe…

1. The concerns and needs of patients must always be front and center with everything we do. 

2. Patients deserve the latest knowledge about their disease, treatment options and available support. 

3. Doctors must be knowledgeable about the disease, the need to consider it as a diagnosis, the latest treatment options and the sources of support available to patients, their families and caregivers.

4. We have a responsibility to be transparent to our donors and the community at large. 

5. We have a responsibility to remain independent of outside influences that may potentially be biased.

6. Working in collaboration with other nonprofits, businesses, government agencies, scientists and others enhances what we can do.

7. Supporting collaboration within the scientific community will help us achieve our mission and vision more quickly, thus saving lives.

8. Because research holds the key to disease management and the cure, funding is essential.

9. Capturing the imagination and commitment of young scientists early in their careers will result in more focused attention to this disease.

10. Awareness building and advocacy are critical to combatting this disease.

11. We as a board must stay educated in order to be as effective as possible and provide valuable direction.

The Hard Facts

Stomach cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and fourth among women worldwide. Each year nearly 930,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with stomach cancer, and approximately 700,000 die of the disease. Approximately 22,000 Americans will be diagnosed with stomach cancer each year and over 10,000 will die within a year. According to the American Cancer Society, the overall 5-year relative survival rate for people with stomach cancer in the United States is about 28%, and the 5-year survival rate for stage IV stomach cancer is 4%.

The Toll That Cancer Takes on the Family

A cancer diagnosis takes a huge toll on the cancer patient's family. DDF strives to address the many issues that stomach cancer patients, their families and caregivers face. The most comforting thing is knowing that you or your loved one is getting the best care possible. DDF is there to help through our various programs as described more thoroughly below.

Raising Awareness

Awareness of stomach cancer, symptoms, and risk factors remains low, despite the fact that it is one of the deadliest cancers and the number two cancer killer in the world. However, if you are aware of the risk factors and symptoms, you can be diagnosed at an early stage, which dramatically increases your chance of cure. Two of the most prevalent precursors to stomach and esophageal cancers are H pylori and acid reflux. Physician and public awareness are critical for early diagnosis. To help raise awareness about stomach cancer, its symptoms, prevention, and early detection, On January 5, 2012 Debbie's Dream President and Founder Debbie Zelman appeared on the Dr. Oz show in a segment titled The Cancer That is Eating You Alive: Stomach Cancer. Join us in spreading the word about early detection and screening.

Per cancer death, stomach cancer receives the least amount of federal funding of any cancer and there is very little research being conducted on stomach cancer for a variety of reasons, including a lack of funding and a limited number of doctors specializing in stomach cancer. DDF strives to increase the treatment options available for stomach cancer patients by directly funding stomach cancer research.

By offering grants for basic, translational and clinical research in stomach cancer to scientists and clinicians at various career levels, Debbie's Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer is in the fight against the disease by advancing the field to make progress toward the goal of increasing survival.

We are now accepting applications for our 2016 research funding opportunities. This year, our research investment will be $200,000, representing a 100 percent increase over last year's investment.

Supporting Patients, Families and Caregivers

DDF Patient Resource Education Program (PREP)

There are very few places to turn for help when a patient is diagnosed with stomach cancer and for the person diagnosed with stomach cancer, there is an urgency to get the best treatment immediately. Therefore, DDF offers a Patient Resource Education Program (PREP) via a toll free hotline for patients, families, and caregivers so that they can speak to each other to share their stories and resources. Patients are matched with each other by stage, treatment options, and genetic markers so that they can speak to someone who has gone through what they are experiencing. DDF also seeks to facilitate enrollment in clinical trials and can assist patients in getting access to many doctors and treatment facilities. All PREP services are entirely free.

Stomach Cancer Education Symposia

DDF held the first ever Stomach Cancer Education Symposium in May 2011 and has held the Symposium annually ever since. All are FREE and available either in person or via live webcast. Panelists attended from world renowned cancer centers located all over the country and lectured on topics such as stomach cancer, clinical trials, surgical and non-surgical options, radiation, integrative medicine, genetic testing, side effect management, and the psychosocial issues of coping with cancer. Both in person and webcast attendees could ask questions of the panelists. Lectures were viewed internationally by patients via webcast and are available on our website in our Lecture Library under About Stomach Cancer.

Making a Difference - Achieving the DREAM

No matter what your talent, skill or hobby is, or even if you are not sure what you are good at, we have a place for you at Debbie's Dream. You can get involved in any way you like and for as much time as you like. If you are not sure how you can help, please contact us and a representative will help you explore the many volunteer opportunities that we have all over the country. You can make a difference!

It takes teamwork to make a dream work!

Debbie's Dream Foundation is proud to announce that it is a GuideStar Exchange Gold Participant and has received the 2017 Topo Rated NonProfit Award.

The Beginning of the Dream

Debbie Zelman, DDF's President and Founder, was diagnosed with Stage IV advanced, incurable stomach cancer in April 2008. At that time, she was forty years old, the mother of three young children, married to a physician and a practicing attorney with her own firm but she was only expected to live a few weeks at most. So Debbie began the fight of her life. She had a port inserted and began very harsh chemotherapy treatments. She spent months in bed, doctor's offices, hospitals and getting scans and tests.

In May 2008, while undergoing the harshest of chemotherapy regimens, Debbie began fundraising activities to raise funds for stomach cancer research and also began speaking to other stomach cancer patients from all over the world. This was the beginning of DDF, which was the first organization dedicated to helping stomach cancer patients, raising money for research, and spreading the word about stomach cancer.

In April 2009, Debbie incorporated Debbie's Dream Foundation, Inc. using the tree logo seen to the left. The organization quickly garnered the support of the South Florida community and then expanded to worldwide support, events and Board members.

The original logo was modeled after the enormous Royal Poinciana tree that grew and bloomed outside of Debbie's bedroom window where she lay sick for months at a time. The tree's blooms served as a personal inspiration to Debbie.


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