Leadership & Board Members

 

Kim Buff

Founder & Executive Director

Like so many before her, when Kim's son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2009, it was completely devastating on the entire family.  Kim had recently relocated to Minneapolis and was thousands of miles away from all of her extended family.  While caring for her child with cancer between hospital and home in a new city, raising a toddler and supporting her executive husband who often traveled for work, she became more isolated and lonely as time went on.  Focused on doing something to take away that feeling for others, Momcology was born.

Kim's compassionate vision to provide a place for parents to communicate, feel supported and exchange critical information about pediatric cancer treatment and childhood cancer awareness continues to be the driving force behind each new initiative Momcology pursues.  Kim believes in collaboration between organizations and that the empowerment of parents is the first step in creating a new future for children (and families) that have been diagnosed with cancer.  

Kim has a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting and Business Administration from the State University of New York College at Fredonia. She currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband, Howard, and two children Matthew (ALL Leukemia-remission) and Erikah.  kimbuff@momcology.org

 

Sharla Sanders

Director of National Momcology Retreats, Founder of Blissful Escapes Retreats & Board Member

Sharla's son Austin, was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a rare form of childhood eye cancer in 2009. This journey inspired her to create Blissful Escapes self-care retreats for moms of children with cancer who need to relax, connect and restore.   Sharla has a deep passion to create harmonious, meaningful relationships amongst women who have faced similar adversities and has seen first hand the healing that has taken place at these retreats through massage, yoga, nutrition, art therapy, meditation and much more.  Her vision is to see women healed through holistic self-care.

Sharla has a Bachelors degree in Holistic Ministry from The American Institute of Holistic Theology and a Coaching Degree from The Centre for Coach Training.  She is an author, empowerment speaker, and community connector and has coached women since 1997.  Sharla resides in Vancouver, WA with her two boys, Austin (Retinoblastoma -Survivor) Dalton and their Labradoodle, Zoe. sharla@momcology.org   

 

Mindy Dykes

Strategic Relations & Board Member

Mindy is a true champion of childhood cancer research. She understands the importance of supporting medical research to ensure kids diagnosed with cancer have the chance for a long healthy life. Mindy’s passion is a result of her son Connor’s very brave encounter with brain cancer.

Mindy is also the Community Outreach Coordinator for Children’s Cancer Research Fund.  In her role she connects with other families going through what is so familiar to her-navigating the world of childhood cancer. She has witnessed and experienced more hope, compassion and perseverance than many.  Her personal experience has also motivated her  desire to help other parents and caregivers find the support they need and she is honored to do so.  

 

Justine Zirbes

Co-Founder & Board Member

Justine's son, Axel, was diagnosed with leukemia (ALL) at age 3 in 2010.  Her first question to the social worker, was how to connect with other mothers who were navigating the cancer journey too. She couldn't imagine enduring this new unknown without people who could truly understand the fear, anxiety, and pain of treating your child with chemotherapy.  When Axel was hospitalized at the same time as Kim's son was a few months later, and she immediately knew she had made a life long friend and began seeking ways to connect with even more cancer moms.  With Kim, the first peer support groups, Minnesota Momcology and ALL Moms were born on Facebook.  
 
Justine has a B.A. in Mass Communication from the College of St. Benedict, and works full time as a television producer in the Minneapolis market, bringing childhood cancer awareness to her audience whenever she can. She resides in Minneapolis with her husband, Brian, and her children, Carter, Axel (remission from ALL), and twins Ruby and Hazel who were born just a month after Axel's diagnosis.

 



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