The Oksayans have been part of the Hirshberg Foundation family since Purmine “Mine” Oksayan was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2016. From attending our Symposium, sharing their stories and being honored at the LA Cancer Challenge, Mine and her daughter, Ani, have been fierce advocates and loyal supporters. We are happy to share another chapter in the Oksayans’ story, from newlywed Ani.
My husband Greg and I were married on September 1, 2022 in a smallish ceremony in San Marcos, CA. We’d met three years prior and had been living together for a year before our wedding. Our little family was complete with my contribution of a 14 year old son and his of a 10 year old Chihuahua; my first pet ever, if you can believe it. As we started planning our wedding, we kept emphasizing to one another that we merely wanted a celebration; simply an opportunity for our friends and family to come together and share in our joy of finding love in one another.
The question of what we "wanted" as gifts kept coming up and it didn’t take much consideration to realize that we only wanted our loved ones’ presence without the expectation of any gift. We clearly communicated to our guests in the invitation to feel no obligation to gift us anything other than their support and love. However, we knew that there would be some level of insistence or discomfort with this request on the part of our close loved ones, so we decided to create a donation fund for a cause that was dear to us. Once this was decided, there was no doubt that our cause would be the Hirshberg Foundation.
For the last 6 years, the Foundation has been a constant source of information, support, camaraderie, and inspiration to my family. They were there for us during the horrors of the first days and weeks of my beautiful mother’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis to the traumatic days of constant hospital visits, chemo and eventual Whipple surgery. And they are here for us today and every day, whether to give a huge hug at an event or to share tears of relief and congratulations as we celebrate year after year of her cancer being behind us.
We weren’t sure whether anyone would actually act on the opportunity to donate but we quickly found that, indeed, many people were drawn to the idea of contributing to a cause that we held close to our hearts. This option allowed our guests to honor Greg and I while learning that someone dear to us had experienced a deadly disease and been supported by an organization that made tremendous strides in research, care and support of those affected.The ability to use our event, our celebration, as a call to action towards a cause that is both emotionally special and globally relevant felt incredibly rewarding and added an additional sense of meaning to our union.
In all honesty, my mom was not surprised that we would have chosen to forgo gifts and request donations to the Hirshberg Foundation. As a family, we have always felt completely supported by them, so it felt natural and right that we would take every opportunity to offer that support in return. This was a small gesture towards championing a selfless and benevolent organization dedicated to advancing research and providing resources and support to patients and their families at a time when they need that light the most. The opportunity to advocate and exhibit support through the vehicle of a special personal event is a privilege that Greg and I are honored to have had.
Learn more about our Wedding Program and how you can dedicate your special day to a loved one