Alumnus stays on-the-go helping cancer patients’ families

June 14, 2013
By Chris Saunders

Six years ago, during an excruciating eight-hour wait at the chemotherapy clinic, Joe Pagani began an online support group for his wife, Jen Pagani, who had been diagnosed with a rare and an aggressive form of breast cancer.

And what started as an appeal to family and friends for support is now a nonprofit organization that supports many other individuals and families battling breast cancer.
Joe Pagani, a 1986 graduate of NC State with a business degree, and Jen Pagani, are the founders of GoJenGo (GJG), based in Charlotte. The nonprofit provides financial assistance and emotional support to individuals and families during diagnosis, treatment and recovery. It promotes awareness of treatment options for individuals diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, and provides financial assistance to organizations conducting breast cancer research.

Participants in the 2011 Komen Race for the Cure wear their GoJenGo shirts.

Participants in the 2011 Komen Race for the Cure wear their GoJenGo shirts.

“It all began while we were sitting at the chemotherapy center and I had my computer open,” Joe Pagani says. He was researching the Susan G. Komen Foundation site, and he set up an online support community for Jen. Support poured in from friends, family and others who helped by providing food, gift cards and care for their two kids.

“We got more support and assistance than we needed and we realized there were many others who need that support and assistance,” he says.

Left to right: Rocco, Luca, Jen and Joe Pagani.

Left to right: Rocco, Luca, Jen and Joe Pagani.

An entrepreneur, Joe Pagani also has been part of various for-profit business start-ups and is currently the director of a textile company in Jacksonville, N.C. Jen Pagani, who still battles cancer, maintains a blog, which is a passionate account of her fight with cancer and has around 2,000 followers. She writes about the treatments that did and did not work and about the relationships she’s formed during her battle.

Because of the assistance their family received, they wanted to do more. So GJG provides financial assistance and emotional support to around 20 families on a monthly basis. It focuses on getting assistance to women and families who don’t qualify for government assistance and have very little other means. It also stages fundraisers to help raise money and awareness. The next one will take place in October as a joint effort with the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

“Our focus is on women and families who do not qualify for government assistance and somehow fall through the cracks across the U.S.,” Joe Pagani says.

The GJG organization concentrates its efforts on families based in North and South Carolina, but Joe Pagani hopes to extend its efforts beyond the borders of the two states and even the country.

“It’s an incredible feeling to be able to make a difference in another’s life,” he says. “Just to see the relief in the eyes of those who are facing this tremendous battle.”

–Devika Banerji

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