Cancer survivor grateful for community’s support

 

If you want to know what it’s like surviving a cancer diagnosis, ask Charity Crosby. Since she learned she had breast cancer in November 2017, she’s been an open book, sharing her experiences with the hope that she can make someone else’s journey a little easier.

“Cancer is scary and you’re going to be scared, there’s no other way around that,” Charity says. “But it does get better. The hard part doesn’t last forever.”

As a real estate broker in Lane County for 21 years, Charity is very much a people person.

“What I love about my job is the relationships,” she says. “I’m selling homes to people and then their children, then their grandchildren. Or, I sold someone their first house and they’re ready to have kids. It’s really about following people’s lives, and they’re following mine, too.”

Unexpected news
Charity’s life took an unexpected and devastating turn when her younger sister Fawn was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

“She had chemotherapy and radiation in the beginning, and it didn’t work. It just kept spreading, and she passed away,” Charity says. “I found out two days after my sister’s funeral that I had breast cancer.”

Charity, who naturally exudes positivity, began to experience the physical and emotional toll of her own cancer diagnosis.

“I have good days, and I have bad days. There are days that I just stay in bed. I’m tired, I’m nauseous, there’s pain. But you have to tell yourself it’s not going to last forever.”

Since her diagnosis, Charity has shared her journey on Facebook and discovered that posting updates is a good way to keep family and friends informed of her situation. It also spurs others to send her positive thoughts and support.

“When I have bad days, I will go through those posts and I will read the comments people have left me and they give me hope,” she says.

Cancer’s financial toll
The oldest of seven siblings, Charity is surrounded by family; her mom and her daughter are by her side during every medical appointment. But when her medical bills began to impact her finances, Charity realized she needed a different kind of support.

Her care team at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center connected her with Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Financial Assistance Program, which provided Charity with gift cards for groceries and gas, so she could continue to get to and from work and treatment.

“People have other things to worry about, like getting better, keeping positive—versus worrying about paying their bills, putting food on the table, wondering how they’re going to get to their next medical appointment,” she says. “Having these resources available really changes the outlook of cancer, and you don’t feel like you’re alone. That changes a bad day into a good day.”

Focusing on the future
Since Charity was diagnosed, she has completed chemotherapy, underwent surgery and is currently receiving radiation therapy. She was one of 10 Red Carpet Survivors honored at the Girls Night Out celebration, the finale to the Bras for Cause campaign that raised $108,000 for Oregon Cancer Foundation this fall.

“More and more people are being diagnosed with cancer. It’s a scary place to find yourself. To have the community come together to help and support people when they really need it—it’s truly an amazing thing to witness.”

 

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Charity celebrates her last chemotherapy treatment with her mom.

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Charity was one of 10 Red Carpet Survivors honored at OCF’s Girls Night Out Celebration.


Local companies mean business with Bras for Cause

 

Chambers-Construction

Chambers Construction is known for building impressive projects, from the Hyatt Place Eugene hotel and Ninkasi’s administration building to Western Beverage’s distribution center and the Pete Moore Hospice House. The company’s employees are also proving themselves to be mighty fine bra builders.

Chambers Construction is one of more than a dozen businesses displaying colorful bras they created as part of the Bras for Cause annual fundraiser to support Lane County cancer patients through Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF).

“Everyone has their own story of how cancer has affected their life,” says Cassandra Dare, a project engineer for Chamber Construction who lost four relatives to cancer in a span of 12 years. “Seeing what cancer does to people and knowing the financial impact of the disease, participating in Bras for Cause gives us a way to help.”

Chambers has created two Bras for Cause entries—”Screw Cancer” and “Save the Hooters“— to raise money for OCF and to provide a fun team-vs-team competition within the company. In addition, employees are raffling off prizes, including a $50 iTunes gift card, a gift basket of goodies from Dutch Bros., and several gift boxes of wine. Raffle tickets are $2 each, three tickets for $5, or 7 tickets for $10 and can be purchased at Chambers Construction’s main office on Judkins Road in Eugene.

“What drew me to the foundation is that it’s local,” says company president and OCF board member Dave Bakke. “I like knowing that the money raised locally helps people locally.”

Dave is a survivor of melanoma. He was able to work during his treatment, but he knows that many patients are sidelined from their jobs, creating financial hardship for individuals and families. “A cancer diagnosis hits you so hard and so fast—you don’t know what to think. The foundation is there to help make that time in your life a little less stressful.”

This year’s Bras for Cause goal is to raise $100,000 to support OCF’s Financial Assistance Program, which helps patients with real, in-the-moment needs, like buying groceries or paying utility bills or rent.

Creativity for a Cause
This year, more than a dozen area businesses have built bras and are raising funds to support Oregon Cancer Foundation throughout the month of October. View these bras online at brasforcause.org, or see them in person at these locations:

View in person, along with individual bra entries, at Dandelions Flowers & Gifts:
McDonald Wholesale: “Cheers to Stomping Out Cancer
Willamette Valley Cancer Institute: “Waves of Recovery
295 Tactical: “You Got This

“Over the last several years, we have had more and more businesses get involved with Bras for Cause, which has been fantastic. It’s a win-win for organizations and nonprofits, alike, when businesses support the organizations that matter to them and their employees,” says OCF executive director Amy Johnston. “Our business partners have contributed significantly to our overall fundraising efforts, which, in turn, allows us to serve more patients and expand our programs. We live in an incredibly generous community, and it’s wonderful to see so many area businesses give back and get involved in local fundraising efforts.”

Join the celebration
Have you voted for your favorite bra? $1 = 1 vote and voting runs through Oct. 31 at brasforcause.org. All proceeds raised benefit patients through OCF’s Financial Assistance Program.

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Bras for Cause stories of hope: Voting begins Oct. 1

Bras for Cause

When Haylee Hardin discovered a suspicious lump, friends and family tried to reassure her that she was too young to get cancer. Unfortunately, those encouraging words didn’t prevent the 25-year-old from being diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.

To make matters worse, Haylee’s diagnosis came just two months after her boyfriend learned he had testicular cancer; and the young couple found themselves in a difficult position.

“We were not financially prepared for cancer,” she said, sitting at a table in Center Court at Valley River Center in Eugene, surrounded by craft supplies. Haylee is one of dozens of people who have decorated bras as part of the Bras for Cause fundraiser to support patients through Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF).

“When the bills began to pile up, OCF was the first place we were able to receive help.”

Haylee talks openly about her experience with cancer, because she now understands the difficulties that arise and how vital it is for patients to have access to financial assistance, education and support, which OCF provides.

A colorful expression of support
This is the seventh year for the Bras for Cause fundraiser. Earlier this month, participants gathered at two community Build-a-Bra events—the first at Valley River Center and the second at Along Came Trudy in Springfield—and decorated bras that are as unique as their creators, who range from children to adults.

Kurt Petersen and his family have participated in Bras for Cause for three years, but this year’s bra might just be his most unique: a hot pink bra, sporting a stuffed ferret, appropriately titled “Ferret Out and Cure Cancer.”

“We have family members who have been affected by cancer, and this is a simple way that we can show our support,” he said.

Kelly Barton, who is currently undergoing cancer treatment, is helping to create two bras this year—one for her employer, Timber Products Company, and the other on behalf of the “My Breast Friends 5K,” a community event she organized in June to raise funds for OCF.

“It’s not just the financial assistance that OCF provides that is so important. It’s knowing that the foundation is there to help in other ways, though its Survivorship Series and classes,” she said. “If you’re not sure where to find resources, they will help you with that. And that’s huge when you’re dealing with cancer.”

As a cancer survivor, Laura Winner said she’s touched by the community’s involvement in Bras for Cause.

“We all know somebody who’s being affected by this disease. And, for the community to come out and support that, they’re saying, ‘Hey, we’re here for you. We’re here to support you on your journey,’ and I think that’s amazing,” she said.

Coming up next
Now that all the bras have been created for this year’s Bras for Cause fundraiser, it’s time to rally the community to vote for their favorites. Voting happens Oct. 1 – 31 online at brasforcause.org. $1 = 1 vote and you can vote as many times as you’d like.

Creations revealed
Come see all the colorful bra entries on display at the annual Reveal Party at Dandelions Flowers & Gifts on Monday, Oct. 1. This event is free to attend and fun for the whole family.

Don’t miss the fun finale
Bras for Cause culminates with the Girls Night Out celebration. Grab your girlfriends and celebrate at this woman-inspired event and enjoy dinner, music, a silent auction, games and a fashion show, featuring local cancer survivors.

  • When: Friday, Nov. 2, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Venue 252 at 252 Lawrence St., Eugene
  • Tickets: $50/each. Tickets available at brasforcause.org.

Haylee Hardin, Kelly Barton and Laura Winner, along with seven other survivors, will be featured in the Girls Night Out fashion show. Through it all, the ups and the downs, these women exude a positive attitude and inspirational strength that they hope to share with others.

“Every day is a gift, and going through cancer has helped me see that,” Haylee said. “Now, I want to do what I can to show other survivors that they don’t have to do this alone. There’s help available through Oregon Cancer Foundation.”

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Breast cancer survivor Haylee Hardin works on her Bras for Cause entry.

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Kurt Petersen models his bra creation, titled “Ferret Out and Cure Cancer.”

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Survivor Kelly Barton and friends pose with her “My Breast Friends 5K” bra.

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The Breast Care Team at Northwest Surgical Specialists create their bra, worn by survivor Charity Crosby.


Bras for Cause launches earlier this year

Bras for CauseThe annual Bras for Cause campaign, Oregon Cancer Foundation’s most colorful fundraiser, will kick off in September, with the goal of raising $100,000 to support patients undergoing cancer treatment in Lane County.

The concept is simple: We invite community members and local businesses to decorate a bra, then we showcase them online at brasforcause.org and in-store at Dandelions Flowers & Gifts in Eugene, and encourage the community to donate by voting for their favorites.

“We are 100% donation-funded and 100% local,” says OCF Executive Director Amy Johnston. “The money raised through Bras for Cause contributes immensely to our annual fundraising and allows us to continue to fulfill all of the requests that we receive for financial assistance.”

Ready, set, create!
Bras for Cause 2018 gets underway on Thursday, Sept. 13, with the first of two Build-a-Bra events. Bring your family, friends and co-workers, or come solo and enjoy an evening of fun. Bras and art supplies are provided – or bring your own, if you’d like!

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

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

Deadline to submit your bra creation to Oregon Cancer Foundation’s office or Dandelion’s Flowers and Gifts is Monday, Sept. 24, at 8 a.m.

Voting begins
Come see all the colorful bra entries on display at the annual Reveal Party at Dandelions Flowers & Gifts on Monday, Oct. 1. This event is free to attend and fun for the whole family.

A fun finale
Bras for Cause wraps up with its annual Girls Night Out celebration. Grab your girlfriends and celebrate at this woman-inspired event. Enjoy dinner, music, a silent auction, games and a fashion show, featuring and celebrating local cancer survivors.

 


Finding support and resources through OCF

Viki Berry

When Viki Berry was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, she was more than rattled by the news.

“I kept thinking, how did I get cancer? What did I do that caused this to happen?” Viki recalls.

It took Viki some time to wrap her head around her diagnosis. But once she came to terms with what she was facing, she chose to be an advocate for her health, both physically and emotionally. Viki sought treatment at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, as well as support through a variety of resources, including Oregon Cancer Foundation.

“I knew early on that I had to take care of me, and that’s not a selfish thing,” she says.

Viki made physical activity a priority, finding time to exercise—from yoga to walking to step aerobics classes—even when she was fatigued from treatment or didn’t feel like moving.

“Sometimes, it’s a struggle, and I have to give myself the OK to take it easy. There are times that I go to step class and I don’t use the step, or I give myself frequent breaks. But I know that physical activity is good for my body, so I force myself to move.”

Support and information
A cancer diagnosis brings with it a host of emotions, and many people, like Viki, would rather not burden their families with their worries and fears. Viki joined a blood cancer support group through the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which allowed her to connect with other survivors and to gather insight from their experiences.

Viki also attends the NOURISH: Food for Life nutrition and cooking classes, a partnership between OCF, Positive Community Kitchen (PCK) and Whole Foods Market. The classes, taught by PCK president Shanna Hutton and held monthly, at no charge, offer cancer survivors nutrition information, as well as demonstrations on how to prepare meals that are gluten-free and feature seasonal ingredients.

“A lot of people think they understand the properties in foods, like fats, carbs, fiber and such, but they don’t typically understand which foods help with inflammation,” Viki says. “Shanna is very knowledgeable and she knows what is in different types of foods and how it impacts the body.”

For more information on the NOURISH classes or to watch a cooking demonstration, click here.

Series on Survivorship
In addition to her on-going support group, Viki participated in Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Series on Survivorship, a 10-week series for cancer survivors that explores issues that often arise after treatment ends. Topics include how to manage anxiety, fears and other emotions; exploring forms of self-care and healing; understanding how relationships are impacted by cancer; and learning how to eat and exercise to be healthy and reduce the risk of recurrence.

“The Survivorship Series was another way for me to talk about the situations I was going through and get ideas and advice on how I could handle them,” Viki says. “It gave me the opportunity to hear about other people’s experiences and glean useful information from them.”

Planning for the next Survivorship Series is underway. There is no cost to attend. Survivors may participate on their own, or they can ask a spouse, partner or caregiver to attend with them. For more information and to pre-register, contact Amy Johnston at amy@oregoncancerfoundation.org or call 541.632.6354.

For Viki, tapping into Oregon Cancer Foundation’s resources has been as valuable to her as the medical treatment she’s received. And she regularly shares with other survivors information about services available in the community.

“When I talk with a survivor who says they don’t feel like they have the support they need, I always ask, “Have you heard about Oregon Cancer Foundation?'” Viki says. “Cancer can be a very isolating illness. But OCF is there to help in so many ways. I want people to know that the foundation is available to them.”

 


Breast cancer survivors receive support from those tough enough to wear pink

Kelly-Barton-Photo-1

When the Eugene Pro Rodeo rolls around each July, Jaymie Woods sees pink.

Jaymie and her family don pink one night of the rodeo each year for Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night, to raise awareness about breast cancer and to support survivors through Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Financial Assistance Program.

“I lost my mom to breast cancer in 2005,” Jaymie says. “She was a spirited, loving woman and losing her was devastating.”

Jaymie’s mom, Karla Defoe, had a passion for people and horses. Alongside her husband, Major Defoe, she was a driving force in resurrecting the Eugene Pro Rodeo, which is now entering its 27th year and draws competitors and spectators from around the United States.

Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night, and the rodeo itself, is truly a family affair. Jaymie’s father, Major Defoe, her brother and sister, as well as their spouses and children all play a role in organizing, operating and participating in the event each year.

After her mother’s passing, Jaymie and her family wanted to find a way to honor Karla and to help support breast cancer survivors in the community, so Jaymie reached out to OCF Executive Director Amy Johnston.

“I called Amy and I spilled my guts to her. I said, ‘What can we do?'” Jaymie says. “I wanted to know that the money we were going to raise would go directly to patient assistance. And with OCF, I felt good knowing the funds stay right here in Lane County.”

“Jaymie does an incredible job each year coming up with creative, fun ways for the Eugene Pro Rodeo’s participants to get in the spirit to raise awareness and funds through Tough Enough to Wear Pink,” Amy Johnston says. “One year, participants filled boots, another year balls were thrown toward a target in the arena for prizes. What doesn’t change from year to year is the Defoe family’s commitment to honoring their mother and wife by helping other local women who are battling breast cancer. We are honored to be a part of something that is so personal and meaningful.”

The power of pink
During the Eugene Pro Rodeo’s Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night, cowboys, staff and spectators proudly wear pink clothing in a show of solidarity for breast cancer awareness. Attendance at the event has grown over the years, creating an impressive display of pink throughout the arena at the Oregon Horse Center.

“While the loss of my mom is still very raw and emotional for me, even after 13 years, I think this is a wonderful way to honor her legacy,” Jaymie says. “For all the families who have been touched by cancer, I see our event as a show of community support. I appreciate each and every person who comes out and wears pink.”

Jaymie and her family are focused on making the rodeo a family-friendly event, and bringing back the nostalgia that Jaymie remembers so well.

“I have very fond memories of the rodeo as a kid growing up. The rodeo is special and it’s a tradition. I want families to experience that and make memories of their own here.”

Join the Fun

What: Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night at the Eugene Pro Rodeo

When: Tues., July 3, 2018
Gates open at 5:30 p.m., Grand Entry begins at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Oregon Horse Center
90751 Prairie Road, Eugene

Wear your pink attire or purchase some at the event. Participate in the Pink Frisbee Toss for your chance to win prizes, including a $1,000 gift card from Jerry’s Home Improvement Center. All proceeds benefit Oregon Cancer Foundation.

Karla-Defoe

Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night at the Eugene Pro Rodeo is held in honor of Jaymie Woods’ mom, Karla Defoe.

Pink-cowboy

Cowboys to spectators wear pink to spread breast cancer awareness.

Games

There are pink activities and games to raise money for OCF.