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.
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.
- When: Monday, Oct. 1, 4-6 p.m.
- Where: Dandelions Flowers & Gifts, 1710 Chambers St., Eugene
- Vote in store and online at brasforcause.org
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.”