From Financial Toxicity to Financial Planning: How One Team JAF Athlete Was Inspired by His Mother’s Cancer Battle

Alec Shelburne understands the devastating effects of financial toxicity following a cancer diagnosis.

When Alec’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was in high school, she was already a single mom; Alec’s father passed away from ALS when he was in kindergarten. Needless to say, Alec’s mother not only bravely battled cancer, she supported him and his two older sisters on one income. A large part of that income went towards cancer treatment.

Unfortunately, Alec’s mother passed away during his sophomore year of high school in 2013, but he’ll always be inspired by his mother’s courage.

“She braved it out the entire time. She didn’t tell anyone except our immediate family because she didn’t want it to affect our daily lives. That took a tremendous amount of strength,” Alec says. “We saw firsthand the financial toll that cancer can bring, not only on someone who’s actually battling it, but the family as well.”

Nearly a decade after his mother’s death, Alec is a member of Team JAF – the Joe Andruzzi Foundation’s (JAF) charity running team that will take part in the 125th Boston Marathon on October 11, 2021 – his first-ever marathon – to provide financial assistance to patients battling cancer throughout New England.

“My mom is one of the many people who would have benefitted from organizations like [JAF],” Alec said.

Alec and his sisters were shellshocked by his mother’s passing, and they had to adapt to a new life without her, both emotionally and financially. That meant the three siblings had to make many sacrifices in their young lives. He and his sisters each worked multiple jobs during the summers to ensure they had enough income to pay bills.

“We were adjusting to a different lifestyle,” Alec said. “Financial difficulties definitely started to come up, especially after my mother’s passing. We didn’t struggle as much as other families, but we didn’t have any parents.”

Alec’s personal experience with financial toxicity inspired him to pursue a career in wealth management. He now works for a financial services company in Boston and aspires to help others with investing and planning for the future. But he also understands that, for patients and families fighting cancer, money isn’t their only asset. That’s something he considers every day, both at work and at home.

“I’ll always have that financial determination to make sure myself and others are comfortable, but at the end of the day, time is the real value in life. It’s just something that I took from my situation,” he said.


To support Alec and other Team JAF 2021 Boston Marathon runners’ fundraising campaigns, click here!

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