Sarah’s Closet: The Charity Honoring Bachelor Contestant Elyse’s Sister

This is week three of this season of The Bachelor on ABC, and week three of a patient-related subject highlighted on the show (Colton’s CF foundation, Caelynn’s childhood encephalitis)– so I’m going to go ahead and declare this my weekly column where I watch reality TV and talk about rare disease.

If you were watching last night, you saw Colton’s one-on-one date with Elyse Dehlboum.

Elyse is a make-up artist in Scottsdale and one of the only redhead contestants on this show in recent memory. She has, somehow, at the ripe age of 31, gained the “older woman” role, which is obviously a little disturbing and maybe a cue for the staff of ABC and the audience as a whole to reflect a little on how we got to this strange point where 31-year-olds are considered cougars. Elyse has a beautiful, calming presence–  she has the sort of vibe you would want from your yoga instructor or massage therapist or inspirational friend. She’s a front runner in the show for Colton’s proposal at the end of the season, and a high front runner for my little fan heart too.

During the day part of Colton and Elyse’s one-on-one date, they hung out with a bunch of children (who I believe were related to his foundation) at a carnival and scooped them ice cream. He talked about how this is a lot of what he does for CULF– get children out of a more clinical hospital environment and give them a chance to have fun. Both of them were really good at interacting with kids, a skill which I deeply envy.

During the evening portion of the date, Colton and Elyse covered more personal territory. This is part of the expedited-intimacy-formula on the show– first, you have fun during the day portion of the date, then, you talk about your life’s most shaping moments at dinner, generally delving into more serious subjects than you would on an ordinary first date. Sometimes, and we’ve already seen this on this season, contestants try to get to this part as soon as possible. This is understandable; the show demands contestants create depth rapidly in order to stay on the show. However, Elyse seemed more reserved about sharing the difficult and personal story about her sister, Sarah. While making fun of The Bachelor is my greatest life passion, there is literally nothing funny about the story Elyse told– it was heartbreaking, and a testament to the strength of her family.

Elyse started by explaining that Sarah was a labor and delivery nurse.

When she was pregnant with her own child, she began to feel sick– more sick than she was supposed to. Doctors found a tumor and diagnosed her with neuroendocrine tumor cancer, a rare and often misdiagnosed disease. Because she was pregnant, and wanted to put her child’s health first– and because the disease was rare, with uncertain outcomes to begin with– there was little treatment available to her. Sarah she passed away in 2013, but was able to bring a healthy child into the family.

In Sarah’s honor, some of her loved ones, including the OB nurses at Central Peninsula Hospital, created a charity in her name. The organization, called Sarah’s Closet, provides gift bags with newborn clothing, children’s books, and other necessities to the families of babies delivered. In her own life, Sarah had set aside gently-used clothing from her children to create gift bags for families of newborns who were in need. Sarah’s Closet holds drives to continue this legacy. The organization has also provided an option for people who would like to donate to the Sarah Slegers Nursing Scholarship Fund.

On the Facebook group, Mandy Delhoum thanks new friends who have joined the group after hearing about it on The Bachelor for their generosity and support. She provides further information for people who want to help out.

If you would like to learn more about Sarah’s Closet or support their efforts, you can do so here. You can also read more about neuroendocrine tumors here.

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