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Local tea company offers cancer patients a cup of comfort

Yogi Tea Donation

Oregon Cancer Foundation is thankful for the opportunity to partner with local businesses in ways that make the cancer journey easier for patients.

Recently, when Yogi Tea Company learned its ginger teas, which support digestion and calm nausea, were being served to patients at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, it donated a supply of tea through Oregon Cancer Foundation.

“The folks at Yogi were very gracious and very happy to make the donation, and we were thrilled to be able to make the connection and let patients know that there’s lots of folks in the community that are pulling for them,” says OCF executive director Amy Johnston.

A cup of comfort
Patients undergoing chemotherapy often spend hours in the infusion room at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute. And something as simple as a cup of tea can offer comfort.

“When patients are receiving their infusion, the room can feel cool to them,” says WVCI oncology nurse Rebecca Gores. “We do offer them heated blankets, but tea is another option to help them warm up.”

For patient Ruby Glazier, who has been receiving chemotherapy since November, a cup of Yogi tea eases the nausea she often feels after treatment.

“It’s just so helpful and it makes me not afraid to eat, because I don’t eat when I get that awful feeling,” she says.

Supporting the local community
Yogi Tea was first developed and introduced to the local community decades ago by Yogi Bhajan, a teacher of holistic living. Today, Yogi Tea is available in 60 varieties, many of which are made using five traditional Ayurvedic spices: cardamom seed, cinnamon bark, clove bud, ginger root and black pepper. And Yogi Bhajan’s philosophy of helping others remains one of Yogi Tea Company’s core values.

“What he believed is a business exists to serve. If the business is not doing something on purpose, if it’s not giving back, if it’s not making a difference, why should it exist?” says Sat Bir S. Khalsa, Yogi Tea Company’s Director of Global Community Relations.

“Our teas are meant to be able to help people, and in whatever form that is we’re happy to make sure that we can be a part of that experience for people.”

Oregon Cancer Foundation is entirely funded by donations from individuals and businesses, but it’s also the donation of products and services—things like tea and comfort measures—that go a long way toward helping patients. Our sincerest thanks to Yogi Tea Company for its generosity.


Team Endure recruiting new members

Team Endure

 

Are you considering ways to get in shape in the new year? Want to make 2017 the year that you can finally check off “triathlon” on your bucket list?

Joining Team Endure is the first step in making it happen, and you’ll be supporting Oregon Cancer Foundation at the same time.

The team gives people with different fitness levels an opportunity to come together and experience something extraordinary—to push themselves out of their comfort zone and test both their physical and mental endurance, as well as their will and determination.

“This team is smartly coached. It doesn’t seem possible that I should be able to do a triathlon, but the training goals have been achievable,” says Dan Johnston, who competed in his first triathlon with Team Endure last June. “Without the support from this incredible team, I don’t think I’d have had the gumption to do it on my own.”

Team Endure trains year-round, participating in events like century bike rides, triathlons and half marathons, but its primary focus is the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival, which will be held June 23-25 in Sunriver, Oregon. Team members compete in the Olympic Distance triathlon, consisting of a .9-mile swim, a 28-mile bike ride and a 6.2-mile run, or can choose the Half Ironman triathlon—a 1.2-mile swim, a 58-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.

Team members don’t take on this challenge just for their own benefit. They do it to lend a hand, raise awareness and support patients undergoing cancer treatment in Lane County. Since 2014, Team Endure has raised over $50,000 to support Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Financial Assistance program.

Most team members have a personal connection to cancer—a family member, friend or co-worker who’s had the disease—and they understand that people diagnosed with cancer often find themselves in a financially tough place.

“Patients often have to make really hard life choices, like whether to buy groceries or figure out how to pay the rent,” says OCF’s executive director Amy Johnston. “And those are situations where we can step in, and we can provide them with funding that will help them, to pay their rent, to pay their utility bill or to pay for their groceries.”

“Cancer touches everyone in some way,” says Jackie Jae Cowsill, who got involved with Team Endure after her husband, Jason, joined in 2015. “I’ve lost six family members and a beloved high school teacher to cancer, and I’ve watched other friends and family members successfully beat it.” As administrative support, Jackie provides information and tools to help team members meet both their physical and fundraising goals. In addition, as the musical duo Jackie Jae and Jason Cowsill, Jackie and her husband have volunteered their time to perform at other OCF fundraising events.

“Aside from the great cause we’re supporting, everyone involved with Team Endure has huge hearts and gives of themselves generously. It’s life enhancing just to be surrounded by such positive spirits. I think anyone joining the team will feel the same way,” Jackie says.

Team Endure will begin training in late January, meeting for runs on Saturday mornings. As the season progresses, they will add opportunities to swim and bike as they build strength and endurance.

“Many people join the team with their only physical goal being, ‘I just want to finish,'” Jackie says. “You don’t have to worry about holding anyone back or letting anyone down—each person has their own goals and strives to do their personal best. It doesn’t matter how that compares to anyone else. The whole team is there supporting you and cheering you on. You’re running your own race, but you’re never alone.”

If you’re interested in joining Team Endure, please email info@TeamEndure.org. To make a donation, click here.


Cancer patient who lost belongings in fire encourages others to pay it forward

 

After serving more than 30 years as an officer with the Eugene Police Department, Lisa Barrong was looking forward to retirement. But just about 10 months before leaving her position, Lisa learned she had breast cancer. Having received clean mammogram results just days before, the diagnosis came as a complete surprise.

“I was reaching my arm across my body to grab something and I felt a twinge of pain,” Lisa recalls. That’s when she discovered a lump in her breast about the size of a pea. Tests showed Lisa had an extremely aggressive form of triple negative breast cancer and it had to be treated quickly.

“Hearing the words breast cancer—it’s hard to explain that moment. It’s something you’re not prepared for. It’s was shock, it’s ‘OK, what are we going to do about this?'” Lisa says.

A natural problem solver, Lisa threw herself into the fight, doing everything she could to beat the cancer. She began with more than 5 months of chemotherapy, then a double mastectomy and reconstruction, followed by 33 radiation treatments.

But in the midst of her recovery, tragedy struck. The family’s home burned down.

“The blessing is no one was in the house. We were actually at my son’s baseball game, and we were watching the fire from the baseball field, not knowing it was our own home.”

When Lisa and her husband received a call from a neighbor, they rushed home. But all they could do was helplessly watch as their belongings went up in flames.

Lisa’s fighting spirit wavered when insurance claims dragged on and coverage was delayed. As she continued to battle her cancer, the family was living in a hotel and trying to regain their financial footing.

“We were floundering, trying to figure out how we’re going to put one foot in front of the other, and I got a call from a representative of the Oregon Cancer Foundation. She said they heard about the fire and they wanted to help,” Lisa says. “I didn’t know what to say. I’m not even sure I was aware of the foundation at that point, but it was a warm heart at a really hard time.”

Lisa has yet to find a silver lining in the fire that displaced her family, but she continues to discover unexpected blessings in her cancer diagnosis.

“I’ve met some amazing people who are fighting their own cancer battles, and it’s inspired me to take this really rough experience and figure out how I can use to help others.”

One of the ways Lisa is helping is by spreading awareness about Oregon Cancer Foundation and encouraging people to make a donation. She is so impressed by the foundation’s work, not only its Financial Assistance Program, but also its Survivorship Series that she and her husband are now donors.

“No matter what your life is like or what your experiences have been, nobody’s ready for cancer. Nobody is ready for their house to burn down. To know there is a foundation out there to help people, no matter where they are at in their lives, is such an amazing thing. We really want to be a part of the amazing work they’re doing.”

When you make a tax-deductible donation to Oregon Cancer Foundation, your contribution stays right in Lane County and will make a difference today. Your gift not only helps patients financially, but it also gives hope and says someone cares.

Donations can be made directly online or by downloading our donation form and mailing your contribution to: PO Box 11004, Eugene, Oregon 97440.

In early 2017, patients will be able to apply for financial assistance on our website. In the meantime, email inquiries to amy@oregoncancerfoundation.org.


Local performers take on new role to raise awareness and funds

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Natanael and Justin at rehearsal at the Ballet Fantastique Studio into Week 2 of Grow Your Mo.

Natanael Leal and Justin Feimster have played many roles over the course of their careers as actors and dancers, but neither have ever played a role quite like the one of “Mo Bro.”

These two passionate performers with big hearts are dancers with local nonprofit Ballet Fantastique. When we approached them about participating in our annual Grow Your Mo campaign to raise awareness and funds for Oregon Cancer Foundation, they agreed enthusiastically. Justin lost his grandfather to cancer and says this is a way to honor his memory.

“I also have a personal friend and coworker at the stagehand union who received help from Oregon Cancer Foundation,” Justin says. “I want to do something to help pay that kindness forward.”

Natanael chose to join the November fundraising campaign to honor his aunt who was diagnosed with cancer several years ago and currently lives in his home country of Brazil. He says his involvement in Grow Your Mo is surely making her smile.

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Natanael Leal in Pride and Prejudice-a Parisian Jazz Ballet. Photo credit: Stephanie Urso

“She is a strong, independent woman who never wants people to be sad. She taught me that just because you have cancer doesn’t mean you give up,” he says. “When I lived in Brazil, she always wanted to spend time with me because I would distract her from her diagnosis with a movie or a book, or we would discuss whatever was going on in the world. I tried to do anything I could to make her day better.”

These two performers have made a career of making people’s days better through their art, and in turn, it has instilled in them an empathy for others.

“Anytime you take storytelling seriously you have to put yourself in other people’s shoes, in their place, and attempt to honestly feel the emotions you’re trying to portray so that your character is sincere. You begin to understand the emotions and stories of other people through the study of them, and in even a small way are able to look past yourself and get a glimpse of their life,” Justin explains.

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Justin Feimster in The Odyssey. Photography credit: Greg Burns

Both men are happy to be involved in Grow Your Mo, and hope to raise as much awareness and funds as they can.

“I hope that the simple act of allowing my facial hair to grow lets local cancer patients know that people love and care about them, especially in the most difficult times, and that they are not alone. We have their back,” says Justin.

Justin and Natanael would like to note that their fellow dancers at Ballet Fantastique wanted to participate, but they were the only two who could actually grow facial hair. “And I don’t think our director would be happy if the female dancers let their underarm or leg hair grow out before a show,” Justin adds.

You can support the BFan Boys or any or all of this year’s Grow Your Mo teams at growyourmo.org through November 30. All proceeds benefit Oregon Cancer Foundation.


Volunteer Spotlight: Michael Lundeen

Michael LundeenFor a hobby that started as a way to meet new people and blow off steam, Michael Lundeen has certainly gained some serious momentum with go-kart racing.

Michael and his childhood friend David Lewis Sneed were huge racing fans growing up. When David lost his life to Lymphoma at the age of 27, Michael was devastated but channeled it into something positive on the track. In honor of David, Team Lundeen, the charitable division of Michael’s go-kart racing program, MDL Motorsports, is committed to supporting Oregon Cancer Foundation.

Over the last couple of years the program has grown. Sponsors who share Michael’s philanthropic philosophy have signed on, a source of pride for the racer since sponsors are often very difficult to obtain. But, as he points out, “These are not your father’s go-karts.”

Michael’s karts are purpose-built racing machines that can go 120 mph. Michael has competed at racing events at world class circuits—tracks that occasionally see pro and semi-pro teams. His small team competes at what he describes as a semi-pro regional level, but he says it’s not uncommon to see competitors from NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1 or the Daytona Endurance series at the races. His team competes against everyone from professional karting supply shops, and factory teams to every kind of weekend hobby racer.

As enjoyable as racing is on its own, Michael says his relationship with Oregon Cancer Foundation has added an immense amount of value and satisfaction. Not only is he motivated to raise funds in memory of his friend David, but before he retired last year, Micheal also served as a firefighter and paramedic at Eugene’s Fire Station #9, where he came into contact with many people who were fighting cancer.

MDL MotorsportsMichael originally approached Willamette Valley Cancer Institute with his story, looking for anything he could do to help raise awareness and support.

“They met my request with open arms. They gave me hats, materials, pamphlets and contact information for Oregon Cancer Foundation so I could set up a fundraising page.”

Michael’s idea was to raise funds for the organization and place OCF logos on his kart and uniform—making his cause visible on the track, as well as in the videos posted on youtube. His modest goal of raising a thousand dollars on his fundraising page has almost doubled, not including the donations he’s received for participating in relays, fundraisers and other sanctioned events.

With an endorsement from Oregon Cancer Foundation, Michael has faithfully spread the word to friends, family and racing fans from Seattle to Northern California about what OCF is doing to support people fighting cancer in Lane County. His future plans include adding a second driver to his small team and spreading OCF’s message even farther by competing in the newly formed Oregon 2 Stroke Championship Series, with races in the Portland area, Washington and Idaho.

Follow Michael and Team Lundeen on their Facebook page or on their website.


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.