Las Vegas resident Hanna Olivas, who emerged as a right-to-die advocate following her blood cancer diagnosis, has launched a nonprofit to help others living with the disease.
“I see how deep the need is,” said Olivas, 45, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2017. “When I needed help, there really wasn’t anything available to me. We slipped through the cracks of other nonprofits.”
Olivas’ Brave &Beautiful Blood Cancer Foundation offers nine programs to help patients and their families. Among them are grants to assist with insurance copays, rent and utilities, as well as counseling, transportation and meal assistance.
The nonprofit held a toy drive over the holidays that collected $20,000 in toys and assisted 81 cancer patients and their families, said Olivas, who was featured in People magazine and by other news outlets in October for her right-to-die stance.
The Brave &Beautiful Blood Cancer Foundation and the city of Las Vegas will host a 5k walk-run March 28 at Gary Reese Freedom Park.
The nonprofit, which has raised $60,000, hopes to develop community partnerships to sustain funding with the goal of assisting 200 Nevada families. Seven have requested assistance so far.
Olivas said blood cancers don’t have the profile of breast cancer, for example, with fundraising and awareness events where “everything is pink, pink, pink and bling, bling, bling.”
Despite their lower profile, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be nearly 1,500 cases of blood cancer diagnosed in Nevada this year, and close to 500 deaths.
The nonprofit’s work includes advocating for patients and raising awareness about blood cancers.
Olivas’ previous advocacy work has included speaking out for legislation to allow medically assisted suicide for terminal patients.
She has said she wants to choose the manner in which she dies if all hope is lost.
But she hasn’t given up. Olivas she said she recently began to see a specialist with the City of Hope cancer center in Los Angeles County who is putting her on a new chemotherapy and immunotherapy regime.
“She doesn’t believe I’m out of options,” said Olivas, who is experiencing bone pain, headaches and shortness of breath.
About her latest endeavor, she said, “There’s joy in helping people, but it’s still surreal. I didn’t think this was something I’d ever be doing, going through this type of journey.”