In Honor of  Annica Goes

Travel ScholarshipImage Reborn Foundation announces the creation of a travel scholarship for breast cancer survivors to attend non-cost retreats in Park City, UT. The scholarship was made possible through a generous donation by the American Brazilian Aesthetics Meeting (ABAM) honoring co-chair Joao Sampaio Goes wife Annica who passed away in 2014. The donation is applied towards the newly created Annica Goes Travel Scholarship. Funds raised through ABAM will cover expenses to women traveling to Utah to attend Image Reborn Foundation weekend retreats.

Image Reborn hosts weekend retreats in Utah throughout the year, designed to empower women to live fully beyond breast cancer. As a continuum of care, the retreats include pampering, stress reduction and coping strategies, education, nutrition and camaraderie with other women on the same journey. The newly formed travel scholarship will be available in 2016 to provide expanded accessibility to the program.

Annica Mollerstrand Sampaio Goes, or simply Nica, was born in Milan, Italy, just minutes after her twin sister Monica. The family moved to Brazil in 1972. She completed her post-doc training at Sao Paulo Federal University and was subsequently recruited by the Speech Therapy Division (STD) at the Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, where she worked for 10 years until being promoted to Division Director. She was highly regarded by her patients and peers.

In spite of a very successful professional career, she excelled as a unique unselfish person to her patients and who provided an overwhelming amount of support and guidance to her husband Dr. Sampaio Goes and her son Joao who became the center of her universe and love.

In 2010 at 43 years of age she felt something strange on her chest. A mammogram showed nothing unusual. An ultrasound and biopsy provided a devastating diagnosis: primary angiosarcoma of the breast. A radical double mastectomy and reconstruction was performed producing clear margins. A challenging recovery followed, and she decided against a very aggressive protocol of adjuvant chemotherapy and instead immersed herself in alternative therapies. One year later, lower back pain set in and she was found to have a single metastatic lesion on her spine. She headed to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where she underwent multiple surgeries, followed by aggressive course of chemotherapy that produced debilitating side effects. When the disease spread to her hip bones she learned how to navigate with crutches and a wheelchair.

Annica was so determined to feel normal again that the minute she felt a little better she would hit the gym, taking pride and pleasure in the strength and vivacity her body could muster. She embraced all the good moments with vigor – traveling, working, shopping and enjoying her many dear friends. She decided to help fellow chemo patients by creating beautiful scarves for them.

Though the cancer never took away her fighting spirit, optimism, grace and dignity, on her final days she questioned many things. Given another chance at life, she thought she would have done things differently. “I should not have allowed problems to get the best of me,” she whispered softly to her sister Monica before she passed away in 2014.

She claimed to have learned nothing. But it is clear that her mission here on Earth was not to learn but instead to teach. She had had and continues to impact so many people.

Annica’s breast cancer journey lasted 4 years due to incredible advances in treatment options and the courage she demonstrated during her journey. Had she been diagnosed just a few years earlier she would not have had access to the new drugs that allowed her the gift of more time. The Annica Goes Travel Scholarship will give the gift for other women to attend an Image Reborn Foundation retreat.

*For the time being, travel grants are suspended. It is our hope that this service will once again be available later in 2022. Each awarded 2020 travel grant will be honored to use at a future retreat. Recipients have been contacted by email.*

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