Being A part of Something Bigger: Skincare with a Cause

On Friday, June 23rd I had the honor to attend the Pittsburgh St. Jude Gala. My younger brother Elias spoke in front of all the attendees about his experience being a St. Jude patient.

To take it back for a minute in 2019, my younger brother, Elias, was diagnosed with cancer at just 12 years old. More specifically, Elias was diagnosed with Anaplastic Astrocytoma of the brain stem, which is a rare and aggressive type of brain tumor. This terrifying discovery took such a toll on him and my family. For the next 3 ½ months, my parents were with Elias at St. Jude’s in Memphis, TN while I stayed back home in Pittsburgh, PA with my older brother, Peter, as we “held down the fort” while they were gone. Peter and I both remember this scary, great unknown our family was facing and how it pushed us to grow up faster than most kids our age.

My parents had to put everything on hold to support our sick brother. Elias however had the toughest challenge ahead of him, fighting for his life and enduring countless rounds of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. With the generous support of St. Jude, Elias, my family, and I came out of this experience stronger than ever before

Elias got to tell his story in front of over 250 people on Friday the 23rd. Since he was a speaker my family and I were prompted to show up earlier than all the other guests. Something I noticed as everyone arrived and began to mingle was that the majority of them were there to just support a good cause and had no direct tie or reason as to why they were choosing to support St. Jude. I thought that was an amazing thing, but I also knew that meant these people were about to be shocked by the words that would come out of this 16-year-old boy’s mouth about his battle with cancer.

There was a wonderful cocktail hour, silent auction, dinner, and live auction, and then it was time for Elias to speak. I would say within the first 5 minutes he had the entire crowd in tears. My parents and I stood in the center back so we could get a clear view. I could feel the eyes looking back at us as people sat there in shock listening to what Elias had to endure at such a young age. When he was done it was nothing but immense love and support from complete strangers. Elias and my entire family had person after person approaching us. By the end of the night over $460,000 was raised for St. Jude

Within the first few years of building Calithea, I wanted to find a way to use the company’s future success in an impactful, philanthropic way, and given my own family’s experiences with St. Judes research hospital, I knew this charity which was so close to all our hearts was the best fit. With each order of Calithea Goddess Natural Organic Skincare, we donate a dollar to support St. Jude’s research hospital and their amazing efforts to support children suffering from cancer and their families, as well as crucial life-saving research because  Calithea Cares.

Though Elias still faces a tough journey ahead of him as he is still not in remission, he has truly become my hero and I learn from him more and more each day. All the St. Jude patients are the strongest people I know.

If you haven’t had the chance, check out my interview with Pittsburgh Today Live where we discuss Calithea’s giveback program.

~ Elena xoxo

P.S. Both pictures of E (Elias) were from our last summer trip to Greece, his favorite place to be!

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.