About Us

Joan’s Story

Joan's StoryJoan Levy Bisesi, beloved wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, was always positive and courageous, even throughout a painful battle against cancer.

In 1996, at age 29, Joan developed canker sore-like tumors in her mouth and was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer is rare for someone in her twenties without normal risk factors. But while rare, unfortunately Joan’s situation is not unique. Statistics document an increasing incidence of squamous cell carcinoma among young people.

Joan immediately underwent treatment for her cancer.

In the fall of 2000, just before celebrating five cancer-free years, Joan found her cancer had returned. As she was finishing radiation treatments after a second surgery, she learned she was pregnant. Although worried about her physical ability to handle the pregnancy and birth, she was ecstatic!

Joan’s pregnancy was difficult and she struggled to stay healthy. As she planned for her baby’s arrival in November 2001, she learned her cancer had returned a third time. The baby was delivered in September, several weeks early, to give Joan the ability to undergo another surgery but, sadly, it was too late. The cancer had become inoperable.

Joan died on November 23, 2001, when her beautiful daughter, Mira Sophia, was only 10 weeks old.

Joan’s Fund

Shortly before she passed away, Joan, and her husband, Phil, created The Joan Bisesi Fund for Head and Neck Oncology Research (Joan’s Fund), an endowment fund for research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (the OSUCCC- James). Joan sent an email to her friends stating, “Phil and I have decided not to be bashful in asking for your support to cure cancer. I love flowers and cards, but I would rather be cured and be able to see the flowers at Mira’s wedding than to see them now!”

To date, more than $1,000,000 has been raised for Joan’s Fund to support research at the OSUCCC-James that focuses on finding a cure for all types of head and neck cancer (HNC).

Founded in 2010, Joan’s Foundation is dedicated solely to head and neck oncology. Our mission – our promise – is to improve lives by raising funds to support head and neck cancer research, education, awareness, and survivorship.

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