Family honors late mother with non-profit to support rare cancer research and care

“Shannon was devoted to living in the moment, living her own life, even with a terminal cancer diagnosis,” says her husband, Howie.

In late 2015, Shannon was diagnosed with appendiceal mucinous adenocarcinoma, a rare cancer with a 2 ½ year life expectancy. Through extensive care from her team at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, several holistic health therapies, and her own incomparable motivation and strength, Shannon more than doubled her expected prognosis. Throughout her journey with cancer, Shannon never let up, showing remarkable courage, resiliency, and kindness until the very end.

Shannon’s life path was defined by her personal principles: treat people well, show respect for everyone, and give back to those who need it. Even on the worst of days, her family says Shannon never strayed from her own beliefs and mantras.

“When our mom was in treatment, she remained dedicated to our family and friends and always had a smile on her face,” says her older son, Sam. “Day in and day out, she made herself present for us and summoned all her available strength so she could spend time with Jackson and me.”

“During the early days of COVID and not leaving the house, our mom insisted on doing workout classes outside together, even in the winter,” Jackson, her younger son, adds. “Even while battling cancer, she still came up with ways to create fun, happy memories as a family.”

Last fall, Shannon’s family created a non-profit to honor her selflessness, courage, and treatment approach while continuing her example of making an even larger impact to the world around them. While remembering her personal beliefs and passions, the family formed Shannon’s Path to further awareness of appendiceal cancer. Created by her husband and two sons, Shannon’s Path is a family run organization that supports both integrative cancer care for those affected by diseases similar to Shannon’s and appendiceal cancer research, championing both the immediate and long-term needs in cancer treatment. This past fall, the charity’s signature fundraising event was a community dog walk to provide support to Dana-Farber and other research institutions, as well as integrative care organizations that support a more healthy mind, body, and spirit for patients undergoing cancer care.

“When Shannon was in treatment, she turned to holistic approaches, like reiki, acupuncture, and mindfulness, to remain focused and combat the effects of chemotherapy. We absolutely believe that these integrative therapies also helped to extend her life,” Howie explains. “To us, there is no better way to honor her than combining her love for dogs to raise money for the research of rare cancers like hers, as well as integrative approaches of cancer care.”

In its inaugural year, Shannon’s Path brought together 130 walkers and 50 dogs. The event took place along the three-mile loop where Shannon frequently walked her two dogs, Ollie and Finn. Through donations to participate, corporate sponsors, and other fundraising efforts, the group raised tens of thousands of dollars on an incredibly special day for Shannon’s community.

Not only does Shannon’s Path bring together local friends and dog lovers, but it has also enabled the family to connect with others around the world who have been affected by appendiceal cancer. To further pursue their mission, Shannon’s family notes that they would love to continue building a global network of other patients and families that have been affected by this disease.

“In the years to come, we hope to find other families affected by appendiceal cancer so we can create a support system that goes far and wide,” Howie says. “Eventually, we hope to grow our cause with more satellite walks for Shannon’s Path and see how far her legacy can go.”

Interested in starting your own event to raise funds for Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund? Learn how you can become a Jimmy FundRaiser!

Help support these efforts by joining The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign and how you can get involved at