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 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 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


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.


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


Cowboys to spectators wear pink to spread breast cancer awareness.


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

Cancer survivor creates event to support patients


When breast cancer survivor Kelly Barton thought about how she wanted to celebrate the end of chemotherapy, her friends suggested she plan a 5K. After all, Kelly is no stranger to organized running and walking events. This marathon runner has been participating in races since training for her first event seven years ago.

“I wanted something good to come out of my diagnosis. I wanted the good to outshine the bad,” Kelly says. “I also wanted this to be a fundraiser and for the money to stay in the community and help other cancer patients. That’s why I chose Oregon Cancer Foundation as the recipient of the proceeds.”

Putting the wheels in motion
The My Breast Friends 5K event came together quickly with help from friends and family and incredible support from Kelly’s employer, Timber Products Company, and other sponsors including Armadillo Roofing, Jones & Roth, Oregon Imaging Centers, Umpqua Dairy Products, Habitat Contracting, LLC, North Fork Roofing Materials, Inc, and Northwest Surgical Specialists.

Kelly’s goal was to have 200 people participate and to raise $10,000 for OCF. She was amazed when registration for the event, which was held earlier this month, topped nearly 300 people and generated almost $13,000!

“The event exceeded all of my expectations,” Kelly says. “I can’t adequately put into words what it meant to me to have so many people there to support the cause. So many of us have been affected by cancer in some way; it was nice to come together to achieve this common goal.”

The value of community support
The Oregon Cancer Foundation is incredibly grateful when people and organizations in the community offer to host a fundraiser to support OCF’s mission. The money raised allows the foundation to help more patients through OCF’s Financial Assistance Program and educational events, including the foundation’s Survivorship Series.

“We are humbled by Kelly’s selflessness, courage and tenacity. She’s a force of nature, and we are honored to have the opportunity to work with her and to help her celebrate,” says OCF Executive Director Amy Johnston. “We are also incredibly grateful to all of the local businesses that supported My Breast Friends 5K, especially Kelly’s employer, Timber Products Company. It’s wonderful to witness a business support their employee during such a difficult time, through both their words and actions.”

“The My Breast Friends 5K wasn’t just a success because we crushed our attendance and fundraising goals. It was a success because the event was so full of positive, supportive energy,” Kelly says. “It was fun to see so many first time 5K participants win medals for being in the top 3 in their division.”

Kelly has decided to make the My Breast Friends 5K an annual event. To see additional photos from this year’s race and to get information on upcoming events, check out the event’s Facebook page.


Kelly Barton, along with her husband and daughter, prepares to lead off the race.


Even though it was raining, no one seemed to mind!


Kelly’s biggest cheerleader – her mom!

Swallows of Hope Award recipients announced


The recipients of the 2018 Swallows of Hope Awards were recently announced at the Oregon Cancer Foundation’s annual Neighbors Helping Neighbors Breakfast at Valley River Inn, in Eugene.

The awards honor one community member and one health care provider who consistently go above and beyond to spread hope to local cancer patients. While all of this year’s finalists, nominated by the public, are truly worthy of recognition, the following individuals received awards for their dedicated efforts in supporting cancer survivors in our community.

Community category recipient: Shirley Lyons
When florist Shirley Lyons of Eugene and her daughter Toviana Jackson started Bras for Cause in 2012 to support Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Financial Assistance Program, they never imagined what it would become.

“We’re in the emotion business, and we help people celebrate their most exciting moments in life and some of the most difficult and challenging,” Shirley says.

After seeing how breast cancer impacted the lives of family members and employees at Shirley’s shop, Dandelions Flowers & Gifts, the mother-daughter duo decided they wanted to create an event that would not only raise awareness about breast cancer, but also put the fun in “fundraiser.”

“One of the things that Bras for Cause does is it engages people on all different levels. People decorate a bra, bring it into the store and then we display them throughout the month of October,” Shirley says. “During that time, the public gets to vote on their favorites, either in the store or online at One dollar equals one vote.”

With Shirley’s involvement and enthusiasm, Bras for Cause has grown over the last seven years, from raising a couple thousand dollars in 2012, to bringing in over $82,000 in 2017 with the addition of Girls Night Out, a celebration event that serves as the campaign’s finale.

For Shirley, the community involvement and stories that are shared by participants during Bras for Cause are just as important as the money raised.

“We have people who come in to see the different entries and when we engage them, they begin to tell their story about their own journey with cancer, or the journey of a friend or family member,” she says. “We’ve had folks come into the shop with their masks on, straight from their chemotherapy appointment, to look at the creation that they made as part of their healing process. Those are really special moments.”

Plans are underway for the 2018 Bras for Cause campaign this fall. Stay tuned for details.

Click here to watch a video featuring this year’s award finalists in the community category.

Health care category recipient: Dr. Jonathan Gonenne
When gastroenterologist Dr. Jonathan Gonenne was told that he’d been nominated for OCF’s Swallows of Hope Award, his first question was, “Who did that?”

Humbled to receive the award, but not one to seek recognition, Dr. Gonenne credits his stellar team at Eugene Gastroenterology Consultants, as well as our highly skilled medical community, for the level of patient care he’s able to deliver. As a member of Oregon Cancer Alliance’s gastrointestinal team, Dr. Gonenne works alongside other multidisciplinary specialists in the community to collaborate on challenging cases and identify the best course of treatment for each patient.

“Over time, this team-approach has evolved into a tumor board that has been meeting twice a month for 10 years on behalf of patients. It’s really made a difference in patient care, and I’ve been honored to be involved in that,” says Dr. Gonenne.

“Among cancers, we’ve really made strides in colon cancer in the last 10-15 years. We are catching things earlier. And when you catch things earlier, you can do more and survival improves.”

Dr. Gonenne’s colleagues say his dedication to his patients is unwavering, from his participation in community events to raise awareness about colon cancer screening, to his constant efforts to make sure patients are seen in a timely manner, no matter what.

“Anything we can do to get patients in, I think, is really important. Because we’ve all be on the other side of things where we’ve been a patient ourselves, or a family member or a friend has been a patient. Taking that into consideration and keeping that in the forefront of my mind, is an important part of being a physician.”

Click here to watch a video featuring Dr. Gonenne and this year’s award finalists in the health care category.

Finalists chosen for Swallows of Hope Awards

Award Finalists

The Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF) is proud to recognize individuals in the community who demonstrate extraordinary care and compassion to those affected by cancer. Just as swallows point sailors toward dry land, the OCF Swallows of Hope Awards recognize individuals 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:

Shanna Hutton
Passionate about food and healthy living, Shanna Hutton co-founded Positive Community Kitchen (PCK), a nonprofit that engages teen and adult volunteers to prepare nutrient-rich, organic meals for people fighting life-threatening illnesses, free of charge. After helping to start PCK, Shanna served as a head chef for the organization and is currently the president of the organization’s board of directors. Last year, she started offering NOURISH: Food for Life cooking classes in collaboration with Oregon Cancer Foundation and Whole Foods Market, teaching cancer survivors and their families how to prepare healthy meals. “I truly believe that food is a component to healing,” Shanna says. “Especially when it’s prepared by a community that really cares.”

Shirley Lyons
As a florist in Eugene for more than 40 years, Shirley Lyons would say she’s in the “emotions business.” Seven years ago, she and her daughter Toviana wanted to do something to help support breast cancer survivors in the community and help raise awareness about the disease. Borrowing an idea from other groups across the country, they started Bras for Cause. Each fall, they invite community members to decorate bras, then they put them on display at Dandelions Flowers & Gifts during the month of October and encourage people to vote for their favorites ($1=1 vote). All proceeds raised support Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Financial Assistance Program. “Having an opportunity to do something fun and engaging to raise money for our neighbors and friends is really important to us,” Shirley says.

The finalists in the Healthcare Category are:

Paul Moore
As a radiation oncology nurse at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, Paul Moore is fulfilling his calling. The Marine Corps veteran, turned EMT, returned to college after his children were grown to complete his nursing degree. He spent nine years with White Bird Clinic’s CAHOOTS program and worked as a labor and delivery nurse until the recession hit and the birth rate in Lane County dropped to a record low. He then began working in oncology, offering care and support to patients diagnosed with cancer. “These people are coming to me in their most vulnerable, most frightened moments of their lives,” Paul says. “They’re overwhelmed and they’re placing their faith, fears, hope and trust in me. That’s a privileged position for me to be in. I come into work every day, and I know that what I do can really make a difference for somebody.”

Dr. Jonathan Gonenne
For the last decade, Dr. Jonathan Gonenne has cared for patients as a gastroenterologist with Eugene Gastroenterology Consultants in Eugene. He also serves on the Oregon Cancer Alliance’s G.I. team, collaborating in bi-monthly tumor board discussions with other specialists, focusing on individual cancer cases to help provide patients the best possible treatment. Dr. Gonenne is known for going above and beyond to provide quality care that addresses the needs of each patient. “I’ve had family members who’ve struggled with cancer, and I think that makes it personal for me. I try to think about that with each patient I see. Cancer care is a very personal thing.”

Dr. Benjamin Cho
As a child, Dr. Benjamin Cho dreamed of becoming an electrical engineer. But after his father was diagnosed with colon cancer, and he watched his dad struggle through treatment and the medical issues that arose, he decided he could make more of an impact by becoming a doctor. “In oncology, you don’t just treat an eye or an ear or a liver or a lung,” Dr. Cho says. You don’t just treat a disease; you treat the entire person.” As a medical oncologist at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and as a member of the Oregon Cancer Alliance’s Breast Cancer Team, Dr. Cho values the time he spends with patients. Inspired by the latest advancements in oncology research, Dr. Cho empowers and encourages patients by educating them on their treatment options, offering support and giving his time and attention to best-meet their needs.

The award winners will be announced on May 8, 2018.