When she arrived in California from New York, Kathleen “Frankie” Francesca wanted to make a difference. Her dream job—working for a modeling agency in New York—had turned out to be an unfulfilling pit stop.
While supporting her parents, both of whom have diabetes, Frankie began to volunteer with the American Diabetes Association (ADA). After attending ADA committees and recognizing within herself the desire to help others, she decided to enter the world of medicine.
Meanwhile, the occurance of a family hardship meant Frankie had to sell everything she had. Her father was laid off at work and then had to recover from an accident; her mother had to stay home to take care of him and help Frankie with her daughter, as she had just become a single mother. There was something Frankie’s mother would say to her that rang true, even in times like these:
“As long as you are breathing, there is always hope.”
Frankie lost neither her hope nor her compassion. Her goal was to begin working at R3 Regenerative Medicine (R3), a company that helps doctors obtain turnkey operations for stem cell clinics. Starting out, she had no phone and no computer. For the internet access she needed to be able to do her job, she was continuously going to libraries.
“I couldn’t tell the CEO that I didn’t have anything,” says Frankie. It wasn’t until two years ago that she did tell them about her initial struggle and lack of resources. Today, she is grateful that the CEO of R3 took a chance on her.
Five years later, she is Chief Operating Officer, and Vice President and partner at R3 Medical Training. She is doing the kind of work that she came to California longing to do: helping people, educating them, and changing the way they live their lives.
“Doctors use [stem cell regenerative medicine] to avoid surgeries or help slow the progression of any existing conditions,” says Frankie. “Anywhere from diabetes to neurological issues and joint issues. There’s a lot that you can do with stem cells.”
Frankie is a single mother to her 9-year-old daughter, Valentina. When she isn’t at work, she is spending time with her. They travel together, too, but working seven days a week means that she doesn’t have much extra time.
“I feel bad having to leave her when I have to travel for work,” says Frankie. “But at least I’m leaving my daughter knowing that I’ve done something that I can be proud of, and she can be proud [realizing] how much of a difference her mother made in those people’s lives.”
Where R3 was once a small marketing company, there are now 43 affiliated clinics across the United States and eight internationally. They are opening their own headquarters and anti-aging clinic in Scottsdale this September, a clinic in Nashville in November, and soon another in India. Frankie is preparing for their very first Health and Wellness Summit in Temecula this January—which will not be without celebrities.
One clinic, co-owned by Frankie, recently opened in the Philippines. She is especially excited to start visiting this location; she has family there, and has not been back in 25 years. With the opening of this location, she will be able to visit a few times a year.
“I’m looking forward to bringing my daughter so that she can learn the culture,” says Frankie. She is planning a trip for as soon as January 2022.
Currently, Frankie is in the process of finalizing a memoir, which she has written to tell her story to both her daughter and generations to come. She is not writing the book with commercial success in mind; rather, it is a heartfelt gesture to her daughter, a vessel meant to preserve important memories. She wants her daughter to know her journey, including how she dealt with negativity on the way.
“Especially as a single mom, you know, being Filipino, back in the day, we’re kind of looked down upon,” says Frankie. “Getting to where I’m at now in life, [I’m] supporting my family, giving my daughter everything that she can ever hope for.”
Frankie moves through life with a big heart and an eye on the future. She wants everyone to know that they can achieve a lot more than they think is possible, if they do as she did: keep at what you’re passionate about, don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, and in her words, be “willing to sweat bullets.”