Girls Night Out honors local cancer survivors

Girls Night Out Honorees

When Oregon Cancer Foundation hosts its annual Girls Night Out Celebration on November 8, 2019, it will honor nine Lane County women as the event’s Red Carpet Survivors. For honorees Joan Schryvers and Joan Canty, Girls Night Out – the finale of OCF’s Bras for Cause campaign – is an opportunity to celebrate their strength and perseverance in the face of cancer, and to offer hope and inspiration to other survivors in the community.

Joan Schryvers
Grace and gratitude – that’s how Joan Schryvers stayed positive after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017 and through the surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments that followed. Whenever she received news about her cancer, whether it was positive or not-so-good, Joan always made sure to be grateful to her doctor.

“I just decided that whatever was happening, I wanted to look for grace and gratitude,” Joan says. “You have to follow the process; you can’t fight it.”

Joan also used humor to cope throughout her treatment, like when she lost her hair and joked that her oncologist was her hairdresser. She even made him a mug that said, “My oncologist does my hair.”

“Cancer is not funny and not everybody laughs – there are ways that it’s awful,” she says. “But, it’s a ‘screw cancer’ thing. If there is a way that I can find humor, I do it.”

It was not only Joan’s outlook that helped her but also the tremendous amount of support she received from family and friends. Her daughter, Megan, drove her to surgery and sat with her through her chemotherapy appointments while her sons regularly sent her supportive messages to bolster her spirits.

Joan is also thankful for the support she found online. When she decided to share her diagnosis on Facebook, she was overwhelmed with tremendous love and support. Joan even created a private Facebook group, where she could share what was going on in more detail, providing her a comforting outlet.

After her diagnosis, Joan worried about the future and whether she would get the opportunity to become a grandmother. She now spends time with her adorable grandson, Henry, and cherishes every minute they have together. Joan regularly attends OCF supports groups and is thrilled to be a part of Girls Night Out, which she will be attending with her daughter.

Joan Canty
For Joan Canty, life falls into two periods: B.C. and A.D – Before Cancer and After Diagnosis. The retired English instructor was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue in 2018 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation at Stanford University. Adjusting to life after cancer has been challenging for her, but it’s made her realize what truly matters.

“You don’t go back to the way it was,” Joan says. “There is no picking up life without a hitch. You are always more aware of what’s important.”

When Joan returned to Lane County following her treatment, she connected with Oregon Cancer Foundation, which has helped her pick up the pieces of her life that cancer disrupted. Joan has been involved in support groups through the foundation and is grateful to be involved in Girls Night Out.

“As a cancer survivor, it’s exciting to take part in this event,” she says. “Linking up with other survivors and relatives and swapping stories, just getting to know people, really helps.”

Joan believes that events like Girls Night Out are critical for providing a better understanding of the impact of cancer.

“Girls Night Out raises public awareness, as it raised mine,” she says. “So many of us – men and women alike – are diagnosed with cancer. It used to mean a death sentence. Now, it’s more of a disease you can deal with.”


Bras for Cause: ‘It takes a village’

Kelly Barton

Bra? Check. Hot glue gun? Check. Feathers, jewels, pom-poms and medallions? Check, check, check and check. What do all these craft supplies have in common? They all can help someone with cancer!

Bras for Cause is a fundraiser of Oregon Cancer Foundation to benefit patients undergoing all types of cancer treatment in Lane County. The goal is to raise $120,000 for the foundation’s Financial Assistance Program. But it’s going to take more than tassels and feathers to reach that goal. As the saying goes, ‘It takes a village! That’s why we need the support of the community to reach our goal. Voting is open the entire month of October, so make sure to vote online at brasforcause.org.

If it were not for Lane County residents and businesses who support the fundraiser, Bras for Cause wouldn’t be the success that it is, year after year.

At Chambers Construction, many employees have been affected by cancer and get involved in the fundraiser. The company even takes it a step further and hosts its own raffle, which is open to anyone. They raffle off baskets, gift cards and bottles of wine, then donate the proceeds to the foundation – last year, they raised $500 at their auction and $3,100 total!

“People shouldn’t have to choose between going to the doctor and feeding their family,” says Cassandra Dare, a project engineer at Chambers Construction. “We want to create a better, more supportive community for everyone.”

Other businesses also coordinate their own events to tie into Bras for Cause. Employees at McKenzie Commercial Construction host their own internal in-house craft day and provide craft supplies to make it easy for employees to decorate bras. The finished pieces are displayed and the office votes and the winning bra becomes the Bras for Cause company bra—all of the other bras become personal entries.

“What I like most about this fundraiser is doing it with my sister and daughter,” says Jennifer Thomas, marketing manager at McKenzie Commercial. “My mom was diagnosed at 50 and died at 65. My daughter is just turning 18. And, I think for me, spending that time in a way that feels like an honor is meaningful for us.”

Bras for Cause is personal for the folks at Timber Products Company, too. When Kelly Barton, the company’s executive assistant, was diagnosed with breast cancer in early 2018, Timber Products participated in the fundraiser to support her and other local patients.

“After my own cancer journey, I want to give back and help others who are going through it,” Kelly says. “Bras for Cause makes raising money for an amazing organization fun. Plus, it is a great team-building experience with my coworkers.”

Kelly’s favorite part of the campaign is the Girls Night Out event, which Kelly got to experience firsthand as one of the Red Carpet Survivors when she was diagnosed. This year, the Girls Night Out event will be on Friday, Nov. 8, at Venue 252 in Eugene.

“It is an amazing experience for cancer survivors to be pampered, share their story and celebrate being a survivor,” she says.

Bras for Cause voting runs October 1-31, so make sure to get your votes in online at brasforcause.org before the deadline!


Bras for Cause kicks off this September

Bras for Cause

Oregon Cancer Foundation’s colorful annual fundraiser is back for the 8th year! Decorate a bra for Bras for Cause in September to help the foundation raise money for patients undergoing cancer treatment in Lane County.

The bras, decorated by community members and local businesses, are displayed online at brasforcause.org, in-store at Dandelions Flowers & Gifts in Eugene and at Valley River Center, Center Court throughout the month of October. We invite community members to get involved by decorating a bra and by voting for their favorites.

With a goal of raising $120,000, Bras for Cause is a major contributor to OCF’s annual fundraising.

“Every dollar raised lets us continue to do the work that we do,” says Amy Johnston, OCF executive director. “This event is a critical component of the work that we do, which is to fulfill financial assistance requests for local patients and to help relieve some of the burden that comes with cancer treatment.”

Get crafty!
Bras for Cause 2019 kicks off with Build-a-Bra events on Thursday, Sept. 12 and Tuesday, Sept. 17. We encourage anyone interested, crafty or not, to stop by and get involved in the fun. Come solo or bring your family, friends or co-workers. We have plenty of art supplies, but feel free to bring your own!

Build-a-Bra event No. 1 (Best for individuals)

Build-a Bra event No. 2 (Best for businesses and groups)

Deadline to submit bras
Turn in your bra creation to Oregon Cancer Foundation’s office by Friday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m.

Cast your vote!
Come see all the creative bra entries on display at the annual Reveal Party at Dandelions Flowers & Gifts on Tuesday, Oct. 1. This event is free to attend and fun for the whole family.

It’s a celebration!
Bras for Cause wraps up with its annual Girls Night Out. Grab your girlfriends and enjoy dinner, music, a silent auction, games and a fashion show, featuring and celebrating local cancer survivors.


Oregon Cancer Foundation seeks participants for caregiver survey

Filling out survey

In early 2019 Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF) received a $10,000 grant from the OSHU Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program to help identify and address the needs of cancer caregivers in Lane County.

“The reality is that cancer affects more than the person diagnosed with the disease,” says Oregon Cancer Foundation Executive Director Amy Johnston. “Caring for a family member or friend with cancer can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of support and educational resources available to caregivers in our community.”

“Often, it’s their village that goes through the experience with them—their family members and friends who are caring for them. If we can identify what types of resources they need and then provide a roadmap on how and where to access that support, we can make the caregiving experience a little easier,” she says.

A call to action
Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF) is looking for caregivers in Lane County to participate in a survey to help the foundation better understand the needs of caregivers in our community. OCF is hoping to survey at least 300 people.

Once the results of the survey have been analyzed, OCF will determine next steps to create programs and resources to help caregivers in our community.

“We may discover that we can formulate a program or pieces of a program aimed at addressing specific issues, either with existing funding or additional grants,” Johnston says. “Or, it might be that some of our partners in the community are in a better position to do that. By working together, we’re pooling our expertise in finding the best solutions.”

Get involved
The survey includes about 30 questions and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. The survey is designed to assess the needs of both current and past caregivers. It is anonymous and available online here. It can also be mailed, upon request.

If you are currently a caregiver or have been a caregiver to a cancer patient in the past and are interesting in completing the survey, please click here, email andrew@oregoncancerfoundation.org or call the Oregon Cancer Foundation office at 541-632-3654.


Oregon Cancer Foundation hosts first health fair for National Cancer Survivors Day

Health Fair

Oregon Cancer Foundation held its first health fair for National Cancer Survivors Day to connect those touched by cancer to support services and other resources in our community. The event was so well received that OCF plans to host another health fair in December.

“We have wanted to do a health fair for several years,” says Amy Johnston, OCF executive director. “We had to start somewhere, and this health fair went better than we ever expected.”

National Cancer Survivors Day is an annual celebration of life, held in hundreds of communities around the world, on the first Sunday in June. This day of recognition is meant to celebrate those who have survived cancer, inspire those recently diagnosed, gather families together and encourage community outreach.

The day you are diagnosed, you are a survivor for the rest of your life,” Amy says. “National Cancer Survivors Day is for everyone—those who are newly diagnosed, actively in treatment or have been a survivor for some time.”

An amazing turnout
Even though it was graduation weekend, it did not stop people from attending between commencement parties. With over 100 attendees and 14 local health vendors, the health fair was considered a major success, Amy says.

“It was striking, the response we received—not just in terms of numbers, but also how long people stayed,” says Andrew King, OCF program coordinator. “You could tell that people were engaged and got something out of it.”

The event ran as an open house to also serve as an opportunity for the community to see the new OCF office space.

“Quite a few people in the cancer world came,” says Katie Burke, outreach and events coordinator and planner of the OCF event. “It was great to be able to get the information out—the event was super successful.”

Connecting health care resources
Vendors in attendance included Pacific Integrative Oncology, American Cancer Society, Wildtree, and Remember the Moon Boutique, which houses Cynthia’s on Main—a mastectomy lingerie store in Springfield.

“These are vetted vendors that we recommend to people in the community,” Amy says. “It was a great opportunity to educate patients and survivors in the Lane County area and connect them to these resources.”

In addition, the event convened local health care providers, support services, vendors, and health care professionals who don’t necessarily have opportunities to come together, which is one of the many reasons the event was so beneficial.

“They are all here in Lane County to serve our community,” Katie says. “So, why not be a host for these organizations, too?”

Long-term, OCF is hoping to host a large-scale, all-day health fair, with breakaway sessions, events and classes, serving as a conference for cancer survivors and related organizations. And, stay tuned for more information about the next health fair coming in December.


Annual My Breast Friends run is back for its second year

My Breast Friends 5K/10K

After exceeding last year’s fundraising goal, the My Breast Friends 5K/10K fundraiser, benefiting Oregon Cancer Foundation, will return on Saturday, June 8, for its second year. The race will be held at 10 a.m. at Alton Baker Park in Eugene, in honor of cancer survivors.

“The day you are diagnosed, you are a survivor,” says event organizer and breast cancer survivor Kelly Barton. “Anywhere that you are in your treatment or your recovery, I would like for you to join me at the front of the starting line and walk with me.”

A colorful distraction during treatment
Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer in January of 2018. It was in the midst of chemotherapy that Kelly’s friends suggested she plan a 5K as a positive distraction from her treatments. The inaugural My Breast Friends 5K was a major success, garnering an exceptional amount of community support and raising $13,000.

Wanting the money to stay local, Kelly chose to donate all the proceeds from the event to Oregon Cancer Foundation.

“When I first approached OCF, I didn’t know anything about them. Over the last year I’ve learned what they do and it’s amazing—there’s such a need for the support and assistance the foundation provides to survivors, their families and their caregivers,” Kelly says.

More fun planned for 2019
An avid marathon runner, Kelly has added a 10K to this year’s event, knowing that serious runners in Eugene would like the option to do a longer run.

“There is also going to be a ‘Why Station,’ where people can write the names of people who inspired them to participate, or bring photos of people who they are honoring,” Kelly says. “So, maybe it’s somebody who is in treatment right now, someone who is a survivor, maybe they’re participating in memory of someone who is no longer with us. I’m really excited about that, because I think that it’s going to be really powerful when we are crossing the finish line to see those names and photos.”

This year’s event will also feature a silent auction from 8:45 a.m. to 9:45 a.m., as well as a raffle for a pair of tickets (floor seats) to the Garth Brooks Stadium Tour concert at Autzen Stadium on June 29. Raffle tickets can be purchased at the My Breast Friends 5K/10K event for $10.

With the help of friends, family and generous sponsors, including Kelly’s employer Timber Products Company, she is looking forward to another successful year and hopes to raise $20,000 to support OCF.

“I think it’s going to be just as emotional as it was last year and just as exciting,” Kelly says. “There was such a positive vibe last year, it was such a fun event. We are recreating the ‘80s theme this year and participants are encouraged to dress the part.”

Join us!
Oregon Cancer Foundation is so appreciative of Kelly, and everyone involved in the My Breast Friends 5K/10K, for supporting the foundation’s mission to provide financial assistance, support programs and education to local cancer survivors.

Early registration for the event is $35 for the 10K and $30 for the 5K, with a $5 discount per person for groups of at least eight people. On race day, $5 is added to each entry. Register for the race and learn more here, and check out the event’s Facebook page.