2019 Wings of Hope Award Nominations

Nominate those who provide hope for cancer patients

Awards 2018

Cancer is not an easy road to travel. Fortunately, there is no shortage of people willing to dedicate their talents, skills and time to making the cancer journey easier through their efforts to heal, support and advocate for patients and their families.

Oregon Cancer Foundation is now accepting nominations for its Wings of Hope Awards, to honor individuals who demonstrate extraordinary caring and compassion to those in our community affected by cancer.

“Cancer touches us all in some way and we all know someone who is extraordinarily compassionate; who gives his/her time freely to help others as they battle cancer,” says OCF executive director Amy Johnston. “It could be a doctor, nurse or medical assistant, or perhaps a friend, sister, brother or neighbor. Each patient I speak with has their own story of someone who has provided unwavering support during their battle with cancer. We want to recognize these beacons of hope in the community and say ‘thank you.’”

If you know an outstanding individual in the health care field or a community member who is making a difference to support cancer survivors in our area, please fill out our nomination form here and tell us more.

All nominations must be submitted by Friday, March 1, 2019.


Breast cancer survivor encourages others to join Bras for Cause

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Kristina Frank, Bras for Cause Grand Prize Winner 2015

Kristina Frank doesn’t consider herself to be especially creative, but she can now say, when it comes to decorating a bra—and raising money for an important cause—she’s a bonefide champion.

Kristina is the 2015 Grand Prize Winner of Bras for Cause, a colorful fundraiser benefitting Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Financial Assistance Program, and her winning entry is a beautiful depiction of her own journey through cancer.

Kristina was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2014. That fall, she heard about Bras for Cause, but it was too late to participate.

“The whole event looked like so much fun,” Kristina says. “The bras were beautiful and so creative. I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”

Making good on her vow, Kristina joined the Bras for Cause fun last year. The hardest part was coming up with an idea, but she found it in her love for yoga, which helped her cope physically and mentally following her breast cancer diagnosis. Kristina’s design titled “Bramaste Namaste” incorporated the symbolism of the lotus flower.

“The lotus flower begins growing at the bottom of muddy, murky water and it slowly emerges to the top, held up by a very strong stem. It then opens to the sun and it’s unstained by its soiled surroundings,” she explains.

“If you think about anybody who’s been through a physical challenge, you go through all of the muck and the mud. You trudge through and it can be ugly and feel awful, but you learn from it and you become stronger.”

Kristina had a lot of fun decorating her bra entry with help from her mom and once finished, the real work began—raising money to help those going through cancer treatment in Lane County.

Kristina's bra entry titled "Bramaste Namaste." The pink ribbon signifies Breast Cancer Awareness Month and serves as a reminder to women to get their annual mammogram.

Kristina’s bra entry titled “Bramaste Namaste.” The pink ribbon signifies Breast Cancer Awareness Month and serves as a reminder to women to get their annual mammogram.

“I had a letter with a picture of my bra ready to go out the day voting opened. I set a goal of $2,000 and I made sure everyone knew I was serious about raising the money,” Kristina says. “I sent the letter to friends, family and colleagues telling them about Oregon Cancer Foundation, what the foundation does, and that I really needed their support.”

Kristina asked for a small donation and says around 50 people responded. Throughout the month-long fundraiser, she shared her progress and made it a point to thank those who donated to the cause and voted for her bra during the fundraiser.

Kristina encourages everyone who creates a bra for Bras for Cause to actively fundraise and share his or her story.

“People want to help,” she says. “They want to see you succeed. If you break it down, $1,000 is a very doable goal for most people. It averages out to $20 per donation.”

Kristina is already thinking about her bra entry for this year’s Bras for Cause fundraiser, which kicks off on Wednesday, October 5 with the second annual Build-A-Bra event at Valley River Center. While she is keeping her theme for this year’s creation under wraps, she says she’s increasing her personal fundraising goal to $3,000 and planning to use Facebook and texting, in addition to her letter, to solicit donations.

“If every participant sets a fundraising goal of $1,000 and reaches it, imagine how far that would go in our community to help patients who need financial assistance while going through cancer treatment. We could have a huge impact.”

Registration for Bras for Cause opens October 1. Mark your calendar for these fun events:

  • October 5: Build-a-Bra event, 4:00 pm-7:00 pm at Valley River Center in Eugene
  • October 14: Deadline for submitting bras.
  • October 17: Voting begins at brasforcause.org
  • October 18: Reveal Party at Dandelions Flowers and Gifts, 4:00 pm-6:00pm
  • October 31: Voting ends
  • November 10: Winners announced at Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Annual Neighbors Helping Neighbors with Cancer breakfast

Click here to download the Bras for Cause flyer

Bras for Cause is hosted by Dandelions Flowers and Gifts and is supported by these generous sponsors.


Mind over matter: Cancer survivor takes charge before and after diagnosis

ResourcesMerrie Olson takes being proactive to a whole new level. When she learned there was a chance she could be diagnosed with multiple myeloma, she immediately took action. Merrie began attending Willamette Valley Cancer Institute’s Multiple Myeloma Support Group to prepare herself—just in case.

Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that causes tumors in bone marrow. Although Merrie hadn’t even been diagnosed yet, her take-charge attitude had her hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

When it was confirmed that she had a variation of the disease, called amyloidosis, she not only continued to attend the support group meetings at WVCI, but Merrie decided to add Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Survivorship Series to her regimen as well.

Searching for support
Merrie wasn’t sure what to expect when she signed up for OCF’s Survivorship Series, but she found the facilitators, Susan Isaacs and Sarah Petersen, very helpful. She began to realize the abundance of resources available to cancer survivors locally.

“There are so many nutritional and holistic resources right here in Eugene that I had never even heard of before,” Merrie says.

One such resource is the Positive Community Kitchen. The non-profit organization enlists the help of volunteers who prepare organic, nutritionally-rich and locally sourced meals for people fighting life-threatening illnesses.

Presenters involved in the Survivorship Series change on a weekly basis and include physicians and staff from Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and others associated with the field of oncology. The series is free to attend and is offered in both the fall and spring. Classes are held every Thursday from 6 – 7:30 pm, covering topics that range from nutrition and self-care to relationships and emotional health. Attendees are encouraged to register early to reserve a spot and are welcome to bring a partner or caregiver with them for support.

Stay active, ask questions
By participating in the Survivorship Series, Merrie began to feel a renewed sense of ownership over her life, despite her health challenges.

“Attending the Survivorship Series is a way for people to do something for themselves that makes them feel better,” she says. In conjunction with the Eugene YMCA’s LIVESTRONG program, which focuses on exercise, Merrie has able to find balance and recovery in all aspects of her life. “The more in-shape you are, physically and emotionally, the more positive your outlook. It helps you realize that good education, nutrition and exercise can really make you feel better.”

Since the completion of her stem cell transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona in the fall of 2014, Merrie’s multiple myeloma numbers have dropped dramatically. She credits her proactive outlook, asking questions and attending programs like the Survivorship Series that enabled her to access valuable resources and support.

“When you have cancer what you consider the norm is not the norm. Every case is different. All the speakers in the Survivorship Series were very interesting and I really learned a lot. I encourage others to take advantage of the opportunity.”

The fall Survivorship series begins September 29 and runs for 8 weeks. Space is still available to attend. For more information, or to register, contact Amy Johnston at amy@oregoncancerfoundation.org or call 541.632.6354.


Benefits of receiving local after-treatment support

SupportIf you’ve finished treatment, consider signing up for the Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Series on Surviving Cancer: I finished treatment. Now What?

This unique, 8-week survivorship series covers a broad range of topics that address the questions and challenges that arise after cancer treatment. The series runs twice a year, in the fall and spring, and there is no cost to attend. Survivors may participate by themselves, or they can ask a spouse, partner or caregiver to attend with them.

Each session covers a different topic and is presented by local experts, including Willamette Valley Cancer Institute physicians and staff, and other recognized professionals from our community. Past topics have included:

  • Understanding how cancer impacts relationships
  • Learning how to eat and exercise to help stay healthy and reduce risk of recurrence
  • Managing anxiety about cancer recurrence, sadness, depression and other emotions
  • Exploring mindfulness, meditation, spirituality and other forms of self-care and healing
  • Discussing cognitive and behavioral strategies to increase well-being and resiliency
  • Learning about integrative care and alternative healing methods, such as naturopathy, acupuncture, massage and other complementary approaches, and how they can improve your cancer journey

Fall 2016 will be the 7th time we have offered this beneficial and much anticipated series. Past participants overwhelmingly rate the series as “Excellent” and “Very Good” and say they would “highly recommend” the series to others who have completed cancer treatment. Registration is now open for our fall series, which begins September 22. Space is limited and participants are encouraged to register early.

What: An 8-week series for cancer survivors that explores issues arising after treatment ends
When: September 29 – November 17
Thursdays, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Where: The Beck Center, inside the Eugene Family YMCA
2055 Patterson Street, Eugene
Cost: Free
To register: Contact Amy Johnston
541-632-3654
amy@oregoncancerfoundation.org

For more information, click here.


It takes a village

it-takes-a-vilageWhen I am speaking with members of our community about the Oregon Cancer Foundation, I often experience that, while they may have heard of us, they don’t know much about our organization or what we do. I’m taking the opportunity this month to answer a few frequently asked questions: Who do we serve? What services do we offer? And where do our funds come from?

In 2006, our organization was founded with a single donation from a grateful family, with the intention that the money would be used to help patients in our community while they underwent treatment for cancer. Back then, we were called the Willamette Valley Cancer Care Foundation, but in 2013, we were renamed the Oregon Cancer Foundation. What didn’t change, however, is our focus on serving our local community. We are based in Eugene and we serve Lane County residents and individuals receiving cancer-related services in Lane County.

Our mission is to empower, strengthen and sustain those impacted by cancer in our community through education, support and financial assistance. What that means is that we provide education and support through our Survivorship Series, our partnership with the Eugene YMCA’s LIVESTRONG program, and other community-based resources.

Our main program, however, is our Financial Assistance Program. Over the last 10 years, the Oregon Cancer Foundation has helped hundreds of local cancer patients pay their mortgage, rent, car payment, utility bills, buy groceries, gas and more. This year alone, we expect to help 200-300 patients. Our stop-gap financial assistance is often provided during a time of crisis, when a patient’s other resources have been exhausted. Because we are small and local, we are able to help patients quickly, when they need it most.

I often get asked the question, “So, where do you get your funding?” The answer is that 100 percent of our funding comes from individual and corporate donations, event sponsorships, civic groups and community fundraisers. We receive donations in honor or memory of friends or family members. We work with local schools to host coin drives, golf groups that host tournaments, and more. We even have our own triathlon team called Team Endure!

We are also fortunate to have partnerships with several local businesses that help to raise funds for our Foundation through their own events, such as the Eugene Pro Rodeo’s annual Tough Enough to Wear Pink (TETWP) events. Earlier this month, rodeo organizers held their annual TETWP Motorcycle Rally and Poker Run. This fun event draws more than 200 participants each year and provides a full day of riding, food and camaraderie focused on one thing—raising funds to support local breast cancer patients. The Oregon Cancer Foundation supports ALL types of cancer, but TETWP events raise funds specifically designated for assisting breast cancer patients.

As soon as the Motorcycle Poker Run wraps up, the TETWP team turns its attention to the rodeo. This year marks the Eugene Pro Rodeo’s 25th anniversary and opening night, Friday, July 1, is Tough Enough to Wear Pink night. All of the cowboys, cowgirls and rodeo staff will be rocking pink shirts and all spectators wearing pink will receive a ticket at the gate for a chance to win a vacation package.

The folks at the Eugene Pro Rodeo and the TETWP team are serious about raising awareness AND raising money to help local cancer patients—they raised more than $12,000 for Oregon Cancer Foundation last year alone.

Because of the support from our donors—individuals and large companies, Team Endure and the Eugene Pro Rodeo’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink team—we are able to provide a helping hand when it’s needed most. We are humbled and we are thankful.

Now that you know a little more about who we are and what we do, please consider getting involved. It takes a village, and volunteers and extra hands are always welcomed. Please contact us at info@oreogncancerfoundation.org or at 541-632-3654 to learn more.