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.


Wings of Hope Award winners announced

Wings of Hope Award Winners

We are fortunate to live in a community that supports cancer survivors in meaningful ways. We recently had the honor of announcing the winners of the 2019 Wings of Hope Awards, which recognizes individuals in our community who are instrumental in providing hope and compassion to cancer patients in Lane County. This year’s recipients deserve our appreciation for the difference they are making in the community.

2019 Community Award Winner: Shanna Hutton, Positive Community Kitchen co-founder

To Shanna Hutton, food has always represented health, healing and community. In 2013, Shanna helped co-found Positive Community Kitchen, a local organization that provides free, organic meals to people who have been diagnosed with cancer and life-threatening illnesses. With the help of teen volunteers, Positive Community Kitchen aids and supports families in the community who are enduring an exceptionally challenging chapter in their lives.

“I’ve been touched with family members and very dear friends who have gone through this process and who have had an incredibly stressful time getting through it,” Shanna says. “The only thing that I knew to do at the time was to bring them food. That little piece of support that we drop on their doorstep is our way of saying, ‘We are here, and we will help you through this.’”

In 2018, Shana and her husband climbed all 19,300 feet of Kilimanjaro and reached the summit to honor a dear friend who passed away from colon cancer. Fighting not only exhaustion but also altitude sickness, Shanna often wondered if she and her husband would make it to the top.

“Climbing this mountain was a deeply meaningful experience for us,” Shanna says. “I had my friend’s ashes around my neck, and I kept thinking, ‘If she could battle cancer, I can surely get through this.’”

In addition to honoring her friend, Shanna embarked on the seven-day climb—five and a half days up and a day and a half down—to celebrate cancer survivors everywhere who have endured the emotional and physical challenges of the disease and also to raise awareness for Positive Community Kitchen.

“In support of my climb, people donated money to PCK, and I am so grateful for that. But this journey was about so much more,” Shanna says. “It was about community and the power of people supporting people. I have never felt it so much in my life as I did hiking that mountain. And I feel it in the Positive Community Kitchen every week.”

Watch this video featuring Shanna and this year’s finalists in the community award category.

2019 Health Care Award Winner: Dr. Charles Anderson, gynecologic oncologist at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center

Challenging, rewarding and humbling, Dr. Charles Anderson’s work in gynecologic oncology has given him a better understanding and a new perspective on life.

“It’s a job of highs and lows. When it goes really well, you feel great and you feel that you’ve made a difference in the world. And, when things don’t go well, you really struggle with it emotionally,” Dr. Anderson says.

Dr. Anderson was instrumental in bringing gynecologic cancer clinical research trials to Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center four years ago. The initial trials were focused mainly on ovarian cancer and involved research on a national level. Since then, WVCI has expanded its clinical trials to include other types of gynecologic cancers, such as cervical cancer and endometrial cancer.

“Sometimes you get profound results,” he says. “I have several patients who have not recurred, their disease is completely stable or gone.”

Devoted to his patients’ well-being, Dr. Anderson believes in patient-centered care that goes beyond diagnosis and treatment. “A lot of this job is not medicine, in terms of giving people drugs or operating on them, it’s taking care of them and their families on a personal level,” he says.

Dr. Anderson says he’s seen gynecologic cancer survival rates improve dramatically through new therapies and treatments in the past 10-15 years.

“My goal in life is to live long enough to see ovarian cancer cured, and I think that day will come,” he says. “Gynecologic cancers are more treatable than they have ever been. What was once a deadly disease is now a chronic disease for many patients. Now, we hope to take that chronic disease and make it curable—and we’re getting there; it just needs to happen faster.”

Watch this video featuring Dr. Anderson and this year’s award finalists in the health care category.


Finalists chosen for Wings of Hope Awards

Hope Awards Finalists

The Oregon Cancer Foundation is proud to acknowledge individuals in the community who demonstrate extraordinary care and compassion to those affected by cancer. The OCF Wings of Hope Awards recognize those who provide hope in the face of adversity. An award will be given to one healthcare professional and one community member, based on nominations received from the public.

The finalists in the Community Category are:

Colleen Glick & Lisa Milton
True believers in the healing power of exercise, Colleen Glick and Lisa Milton are instructors with the LIVESTRONG at the Y program at the Eugene Family YMCA. The free, 12-week program helps cancer survivors overcome the physical and emotional toll they often experience during and after treatment by addressing side effects including lymphedema, neuropathy, range of motion challenges and fatigue. LIVESTRONG participants receive individualized attention in a group setting, and Colleen and Lisa are a big part of that. Their authenticity and compassion to help improve the lives of each participant leaves a lasting impression.

Shanna Hutton
Passionate about food and healthy living, Shanna Hutton co-founded Positive Community Kitchen (PCK), a nonprofit that involves teen and adult volunteers in preparing nutrient-rich, organic, no-cost meals for people fighting life-threatening illnesses. In the fall of 2018, Shanna took her efforts to support PCK to new heights when she and her husband climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest mountain in Africa. Shanna used this once-in-a-lifetime excursion as a fundraiser for Positive Community Kitchen, but also as a way to honor the struggles and determination that cancer patients face every day.

Debbie Wright
When her 13-year-old daughter, Staci, was diagnosed with bone cancer, Debbie Wright did everything she could to help her daughter feel as normal as possible while going through chemotherapy treatment. After losing her hair, Staci didn’t want to go to school, so her parents purchased a prosthetic hair system that helped Staci feel more confident. Hair systems cost several thousand dollars, and Debbie recognized that wasn’t an expense most families could afford on top of medical expenses. In 2007, she and Staci launched the Angel Hair Foundation to provide quality hair systems to children in Oregon who have suffered hair loss due to a medical illness. Each January, Angel Hair Foundation hosts Shall We Dance, a dance competition and fundraiser, which allows more children to be helped.

The finalists in the Healthcare Category are:

Nikki Thaut
As the chief radiation therapist at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, Nikki Thaut found her career in oncology through guidance from her parents and partly by chance. Fascinated by the ever-advancing technology of radiation therapy, Nikki has spent 24 years caring for patients and their families, helping them through one of the scariest times in their lives. Her commitment to her patients is outstanding. During the recent February snowstorm, Nikki took to social media and called a local radio station, asking for help to clear snow from the clinic’s parking lot so that patients could get to their appointments safely. Her efforts paid off and, in no time at all, two gentlemen showed up with snowplows and got right to work, volunteering their time to help out.

Dr. Merideth Wendland
When Dr. Merideth Wendland was young, she never had much interest in becoming a doctor—now, she can’t imagine a greater calling. Seeing cancer touch her own family was a driving force in her decision to become a radiation oncologist. Dr. Wendland plays a pivotal role in providing high-tech, life-saving treatment to patients diagnosed with a variety of cancers, but who all have one thing in common: they want to receive the best care possible. Dr. Wendland’s mild manner and attentiveness to each patient helps to relieve their fear and anxiety while providing comfort and hope.

Dr. Charles Anderson
As a gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Charles Anderson is committed to helping women through what is often the scariest, most vulnerable time in their life. Seeing cancer repeatedly touch his own family is what drew him to the field, but it’s the strength and determination of the women he treats that inspire and drive him. Four years ago, he took patient-centered care a step further and was instrumental in bringing gynecologic cancer clinical research trials to Willamette Valley Cancer Institute. Since then, additional trials have opened at WVCI and more than 70 patients have been enrolled. These promising new therapies provide additional treatment options that would be otherwise unavailable to patients in Lane County.

The award winners will be announced on May 14, 2019.