Bras for Cause participants share stories of hope

Bras for Cause

Robin Gambino stood in front of a television news camera a year ago and was asked why she participates in the Bras for Cause Build-A-Bra event. As a colon cancer survivor, she explained, this annual fundraiser supports Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Patient Assistance Program and is a way for her to help others while coping with her own diagnosis. Robin also encouraged other survivors during the interview: “Just stay strong, have a positive attitude and don’t let it get you down.”

Those are words Robin lives by, and it’s why she’s participating in this year’s Bras for Cause campaign and recently attended the Build-A-Bra kick-off event with her family. Nearly four years into her cancer fight, Robin decided to create a bra design that features a pair of boxing gloves, alongside the names of those close to her who’ve been diagnosed with the disease, including her mom and dad. In addition to the fun and camaraderie that this community fundraiser brings, Robin says the event also gives her strength.

“It means a lot to be here and it’s uplifting and inspiring to know that people are here because they want to help,” Robin says. “I choose to fight. I have a bucket list of things I want to do, and, by goodness, I’m going to accomplish them.”

Bras for Cause

Cancer survivor Robin Gambino decorates her bra for this year’s competition.

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 $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 Tuesday, Oct. 3. This event is free to attend and fun for the whole family.

This year, more than a dozen area businesses are building a bra and raising funds to support Oregon Cancer Foundation throughout the month of October. These bras will be available for viewing online at, while the actual bras will be on display at each of these locations:

  • Along Came Trudy
  • Breast Care Team from Northwest Surgical Specialists
  • Chambers Construction
  • Creswell Coffee
  • Creswell Dairy Queen
  • Curves of Eugene
  • Dari Mart
  • Jewell Plastic Surgery
  • Oregon Imaging
  • Pacific Women’s Center
  • The Duck Store
  • Turell Group
  • Valley River Inn
  • Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center

Don’t miss the fun finale
Bras for Cause culminates with its first-ever Girls Night Out celebration. Grab your girlfriends and celebrate at this woman-inspired event with dinner, music, a silent auction, games and a fashion show, featuring bras created by area businesses and modeled (over their clothes) by local cancer survivors.

  • When: Friday, Nov. 3, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Where: Venue 252 at 252 Lawrence St., Eugene
  • Tickets: $35/each or $240/Table for 8. Tickets available here.
Bras for Cause

Cancer survivor Brenda Mills poses with her bra and the Breast Care Team from Northwest Surgical Specialists.

More highlights from this year’s Bras for Cause Build-A-Bra event

This is the sixth year for the Bras for Cause fundraiser. Participants gathered for the Build-a-Bra event at Along Came Trudy in Springfield, where they created their bras, using craft supplies and drawing on inspiration from their personal stories.

Gail Murray wanted to be part of the fun and support her friend Sherry Heinl, a three-year breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed with colon cancer last November.

“This is such a fun event, something we wanted to do together,” Gail said.

“It means a lot to me to see the community rally together,” said Sherry, who personally understands the financial strain cancer can cause.

“It’s very overwhelming. There were times during my treatment that I felt my diagnosis was putting my family in a difficult situation. There were times when we wanted to just go out and have dinner together—and we couldn’t, because we couldn’t afford it.”

A few tables away, Brenda Mills, a breast cancer survivor, experienced Build-a-Bra for the first time, creating a bra with her Breast Care Team from Northwest Surgical Specialists, the presenting sponsor of the event.

Brenda was unable to work during her cancer treatment, which included chemotherapy and surgery. She received financial assistance from Oregon Cancer Foundation to help pay her rent.

“I was among some of the strongest women in the world today at Build-a-Bra,” she says proudly. “Not only were we able to come together for such a great cause, raising money that stays in our community, but we know that money is helping patients during a time in their lives that is both emotionally and financially difficult. We are truly blessed to live in a community where there is help, and there is hope.”

Bras for Cause returns to support cancer survivors

Bras for Cause Reveal Party

The annual Bras for Cause campaign, Oregon Cancer Foundation’s most colorful fundraiser, kicks off earlier this year and ends with a spectacular Girls Night Out celebration.

Serious fun for a serious cause
Bras for Cause got its start seven years ago, spearheaded by Shirley Lyons and Toviana Jackson of Dandelions Flowers & Gifts. The mother-daughter duo felt compelled to create an event that would bring awareness to breast cancer and raise money to support patients going through treatment. Borrowing a concept that has been used around the country, Bras for Cause was born: Invite people to decorate a bra, put the creations on display, and encourage the community to donate by voting for their favorites.

“We wanted to do something that people would be excited about, while making sure the money raised would stay right here in our community,” Shirley said. “It’s important to have national cancer research, but people going through treatment have real financial needs.”

All proceeds raised through Bras for Cause supports OCF’s Financial Assistance Program, helping cancer patients undergoing treatment in Lane County.

“We are 100% donation-funded and 100% local,” said 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 100% of the requests for assistance we receive.”

This year’s Bras for Cause goal is $75,000.

Shirley Lyons and Toviana Jackson

Shirley Lyons and Toviana Jackson started Bras for Cause seven years ago to support local cancer patients.

Kicking off in style
Bras for Cause 2017 kicks off on Tuesday, Sept. 19, with the third annual Build-a-Bra event. Grab your family, your friends, your co-workers or come solo and join us for an evening of fun. Art supplies are provided – or bring your own!

  • When: Tuesday, Sept. 19, 4-7 p.m.
  • Where: Along Came Trudy, 1486 18th St., Springfield
  • Entry Fee: $10 per bra

Deadline to submit your bra creation to Dandelion’s Flowers and Gifts is Friday, Sept. 22, at 5 p.m.

Voting Begins
Voting happens Oct. 1 – 31 online at Vote for your favorites; $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 Tuesday, Oct. 3. This event is free to attend and fun for the whole family.

A fun finale
Bras for Cause culminates with its first-ever Girls Night Out celebration. Grab your girlfriends and celebrate at this woman-inspired event with dinner, music, a silent auction, games and a fashion show, featuring bras created by area businesses and modeled (over their clothes) by local cancer survivors.

  • When: Friday, Nov. 3, 5:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Where: Venue 252 at 252 Lawrence St., Eugene
  • Tickets: $35/each or $240/Table for 8. Tickets available soon at

New events this year

  • Business Bras: Area businesses that are interested in participating can build a bra and raise funds throughout the month of October. The top 12 business bras will be modeled by local cancer survivors at the Girls Night Out celebration. Contact Amy Johnston at 541.632.3654 or for more information.
  • Classes: In tandem with Bras for Cause, Oregon Cancer Foundation is partnering with Eugene Yoga, massage therapist Kimby Maxon and others, and will be offering a variety of free classes throughout October. More details coming soon.

Learn how to prepare healthy meals on a budget

Positive Community Kitchen

Oregon Cancer Foundation is partnering with Positive Community Kitchen (PCK) and Whole Foods Market to offer free monthly classes on healthy eating and nutrition to cancer survivors and their families.

“Cancer treatment can be hard on a patient’s body and eating nutritious food is important for good health and for healing,” says OCF’s executive director Amy Johnston. “We want to make it easier for patients, survivors and their families to choose healthy foods by teaching them how to prepare them and how to shop for seasonal, fresh items on a budget.”

Shanna Hutton

Positive Community Kitchen board president Shanna Hutton leads the nutrition classes at Whole Foods Market

Positive Community Kitchen board president Shanna Hutton leads the classes, offering nutrition information and demonstrating tasty ways to prepare meals that are gluten-free and feature seasonal ingredients. PCK is a nonprofit in Eugene that prepares and delivers nutrient-rich, organic meals to people fighting life-threatening illnesses. As a former head chef for the organization, Shanna is excited to provide these classes in the local community.

“Our main goal is to bridge what’s healthy with what tastes good and educate people who may be intimidated or unsure about how to prepare healthy foods,” she says. “Our hope is that these classes will make cooking more accessible and leave people feeling more welcome and comfortable in the kitchen.”

Upcoming classes will be held on the third Wednesday of the month through December, with the exception of the August class which will be held on the fourth Wednesday, Aug. 23. The classes will run from 6:30-7:30 pm in the upstairs meeting room at Whole Foods Market, located at 353 E. Broadway in Eugene.

“At Whole Foods Market, we believe that eating real food is vital for optimum health and well-being,” says Sarah Heth, Marketing and Community Relations Liaison for Whole Foods Market Eugene. “By partnering with Oregon Cancer Foundation and Positive Community Kitchen, we are providing an opportunity for patients, survivors and their caregivers to learn more about the positive impact food choices can have to maximize personal health and long-term wellness.”

The classes are free to attend, but due to space limitations, registration is required.


Celebrating and supporting cancer survivors


The Oregon Cancer Foundation is embarking on an exciting season, filled with events and activities that will engage the community and help support cancer patients in Lane County.

The first Sunday in June marked National Cancer Survivors Day, an annual observance to honor and celebrate the millions of Americans living with cancer. Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF) was privileged to host an event at Lively Park in Springfield.

“Cancer is a scary word,” said Amy Johnston, OCF’s executive director. “But the truth is that more people are living longer, and they’re living better lives after cancer than ever before. It’s important to celebrate this new reality in cancer survivorship.”

Survivor Bonnie Settera addressed the crowd at the Survivors Day celebration and shared her personal perspective on coping with cancer and embracing the healing power of hope.

“Cancer has helped me truly understand the meaning of the word ‘believe,'” Bonnie told those in attendance. “OCF has been a lifesaver for me. I like the fact that this organization is local, and it’s here when we need it.”

“Cancer is an emotionally and financially difficult process, and many people are not prepared for that,” said Dr. Winnie Henderson, a surgeon with Northwest Surgical Specialists and OCF board member. “The money that OCF raises stays local and helps those receiving cancer treatment in Lane County.”


Dr. Winnie Henderson and cancer survivor Bonnie Settera addressing the crowd at the National Cancer Survivors Day Celebration in Springfield

Survivorship is increasing
According to the American Cancer Society, there are 15.5 million cancer survivors living in the U.S. today, and that number is expected to grow to more than 20 million by 2026. The number of cancer survivors is rising due, in part, to earlier detection and better treatments. As the number of cancer survivors continues to grow, it’s more important than ever to address the unique needs of these individuals.

This fall, Oregon Cancer Foundation will again be offering its free, 10-week Series on Surviving Cancer, which will address several topics, such as:

  • Understanding how relationships are impacted while on the cancer journey
  • Learning how to eat and exercise to stay healthy and reduce risk of recurrence
  • Managing anxiety about cancer returning, sadness, depression and other emotions
  • Exploring mindfulness, meditation, spirituality and other forms of self-care and healing

Participants meet once a week from September 14 to November 16. To learn more and to register, click here.

Upcoming fundraisers benefitting OCF
Community members and businesses are invited to participate in several upcoming fundraisers that support cancer patients through Oregon Cancer Foundation.

The Eugene Pro Rodeo will again be donating to the Foundation proceeds from its Tough Enough to Wear Pink night on Saturday, July 1. Celebrate the opening day of the rodeo with games, giveaways, fireworks and more!

Want to spend a day on the beautiful McKenzie River? Reserve your seat on the FUNdraising Float, a 16-mile guided rafting trip on Saturday, July 29. Cost is $110 per person and includes roundtrip transportation and a riverside picnic lunch.

Planning is underway for the colorful and creative Bras for a Cause campaign. The fun kicks off September 15 with a NEW Girls Night Out celebration and more categories for entries. Click here for details.

Are you a local business leader? Mark your calendar for November 15 at 7:30 am, and join us at Valley River Inn for our annual Neighbors Helping Neighbors with Cancer Breakfast. The event showcases the work of the Foundation in the community and raises funds for its Financial Assistance Program, which provides immediate, direct financial assistance to local cancer patients. Show your support and reserve a table for your business, or become an event sponsor! For more information, call 541-632-3654 or email

We look forward to an exciting summer and a fabulous fall. We hope you’ll join us!

Cancer survivors have much to celebrate

Bonnie Settera

The Oregon Cancer Foundation believes survivorship should be celebrated. And on Sunday, June 4, a special event will be held in Springfield to honor cancer survivors in Lane County. Survivors including Bonnie Settera.

If you ask Bonnie about living with cancer, she is quick to tell you she is blessed and thankful—blessed that she is responding well to treatment, and thankful to those who have offered her help since her diagnosis.

Bonnie’s cancer journey began nine years ago when she noticed changes in her right eye. “My granddaughter said I looked like a koi fish, because my eye was so bulgy and red,” she says.

Bonnie was diagnosed with an orbital pseudotumor, a swelling of tissue behind the eye in an area called the orbit that acts much like a tumor but is not cancerous.

She received radiation treatments at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center, and the condition appeared to go away. Four years later, in 2012, Bonnie’s symptoms returned and tests determined that she had a rare form of cancer called neuroendocrine carcinoid that began in her colon, then metastasized to her right eye.

Bonnie underwent surgery to remove the cancer in her colon and since diagnosis, she has been receiving a type of chemotherapy that requires a shot in her hip once a month. This week, she will receive her 62nd injection.

“There is no remission from this cancer and no cure. This is something I will have to manage as long as the treatment keeps working. It’s not fun, but I’m doing well,” Bonnie says. Although, she admits, she gets nervous each time her next six-month check-up approaches.

“I do a lot of praying, and I’m very fortunate. Although the tumor lays on my optic nerve, my vision has remained unaffected. I’m thankful for that.”

Now retired, Bonnie spends a great deal of her time each week volunteering as a senior companion at Sweet Briar Villa, an assisted living and memory care facility in Springfield.

“I’m a people person, and I couldn’t just sit home and worry and wonder about what’s going to happen with my cancer,” she says. “But I can help others by putting a smile on their faces.”

Despite her positive outlook, Bonnie says her cancer has taken a toll financially, but she’s found support from Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF).

Through OCF’s Financial Assistance Program, Bonnie was able to receive new eye glasses when her Medicare plan would not cover it. OCF has also provided her with prepaid minutes for her cell phone, so she can make her doctor appointments.

“The help that Oregon Cancer Foundation offers is immediate, and they understand what I’m going through. It’s such a blessing to have this organization in our local community,” Bonnie says.

On Sunday, June 4, in honor of National Cancer Survivors Day, Oregon Cancer Foundation is hosting a special event to celebrate Bonnie and other cancer survivors in the community. The event, which will be held from 12:00-2:00 p.m. at Lively Park in Springfield, is an opportunity for cancer survivors to connect with other survivors, celebrate milestones and acknowledge the contributions of family, friends and healthcare providers who have supported them along the way.

The event is free to attend. Learn more here.

Volunteer spotlight: Couple finds harmony in music and supporting cancer patients


Photo credit: Athena Delene Photography

Since they were kids, Jackie and Jason Cowsill have each been drawn to music, so it’s fitting that music is what first brought them together.

“One night, I was playing at the old Jo Federigo’s in Eugene. I was performing a Beatles song and Jackie walked up and said, ‘I want to sing with you’,” Jason recalls.

“Yeah, I basically crashed his show,” Jackie says. “He was singing the John Lennon part and I knew the Paul McCartney part, so I jumped up on stage and told him I wanted to harmonize with him. Once he finally agreed to sing with me, it was kind of magical,” she laughs. “But when the song ended I just thanked him, threw $10 in his tip jar and disappeared. I didn’t even give him my name!”

Jackie and Jason managed to reconnect a few months later, started performing together regularly, and they eventually married in 2010. They now perform as the duo Jackie Jae and Jason Cowsill, singing what they call ‘harmony-driven hits from the past, present and future’: encompassing a wide range of cover songs, from Dean Martin to Adele, as well as their own original songs, which they release under the pseudonym “Troupe Carnivàle,” that fall under the genre of Dark Americana.


Photo credit: Jayme & Russ Photographers

They are part of the Cowsill family’s musical legacy. Jason’s father, Bob, performed alongside his siblings and his mother in the 1960s, as part of the internationally acclaimed band The Cowsills, which was the inspiration for the 1970s television show The Partridge Family.

Giving back
Jason and Jackie were first introduced to Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF) a couple years ago when Jason joined some of his co-workers as a member of Team Endure, a group that brings together people of all different fitness levels to train for endurance events, while raising money for OCF.

“When people are going through cancer treatment, they often can’t work and their income suffers,” Jackie says. “Cancer affects so many aspects of a person’s life and Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Financial Assistance Program is there to help.”

“Giving back and helping others has always been an important part of what music is all about,” Jason adds. “You don’t have to be famous to support people in your own backyard.”

The couple performs about twice a week at a variety of venues and events, from wineries to wedding receptions. Having both been personally affected by friends and family dealing with cancer, they are passionate about using their music to lend a hand. They’ve performed at several events for Oregon Cancer Foundation, including last year’s Grow Your Mo Community Celebration and Ninkasi’s Pints for a Cause. This year, they will be entertaining attendees at OCF’s National Cancer Survivors Day Celebration on Sunday, June 4 at Lively Park in Springfield.

“When we play music to support Oregon Cancer Foundation, we encourage people to stay longer, and perhaps become a little more invested. Maybe they don’t consciously attribute that to us, but we help create a fun vibe that connects them,” Jason says.

“I feel incredibly blessed to have the gift and ability to make music,” says Jackie. “I get to do it with the person I love most in the world and help enrich the lives of others. I can’t ask for anything more.”