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Wings of Hope Award winners announced

Wings of Hope Award Winners

We are fortunate to live in a community that supports cancer survivors in meaningful ways. We recently had the honor of announcing the winners of the 2019 Wings of Hope Awards, which recognizes individuals in our community who are instrumental in providing hope and compassion to cancer patients in Lane County. This year’s recipients deserve our appreciation for the difference they are making in the community.

2019 Community Award Winner: Shanna Hutton, Positive Community Kitchen co-founder

To Shanna Hutton, food has always represented health, healing and community. In 2013, Shanna helped co-found Positive Community Kitchen, a local organization that provides free, organic meals to people who have been diagnosed with cancer and life-threatening illnesses. With the help of teen volunteers, Positive Community Kitchen aids and supports families in the community who are enduring an exceptionally challenging chapter in their lives.

“I’ve been touched with family members and very dear friends who have gone through this process and who have had an incredibly stressful time getting through it,” Shanna says. “The only thing that I knew to do at the time was to bring them food. That little piece of support that we drop on their doorstep is our way of saying, ‘We are here, and we will help you through this.’”

In 2018, Shana and her husband climbed all 19,300 feet of Kilimanjaro and reached the summit to honor a dear friend who passed away from colon cancer. Fighting not only exhaustion but also altitude sickness, Shanna often wondered if she and her husband would make it to the top.

“Climbing this mountain was a deeply meaningful experience for us,” Shanna says. “I had my friend’s ashes around my neck, and I kept thinking, ‘If she could battle cancer, I can surely get through this.’”

In addition to honoring her friend, Shanna embarked on the seven-day climb—five and a half days up and a day and a half down—to celebrate cancer survivors everywhere who have endured the emotional and physical challenges of the disease and also to raise awareness for Positive Community Kitchen.

“In support of my climb, people donated money to PCK, and I am so grateful for that. But this journey was about so much more,” Shanna says. “It was about community and the power of people supporting people. I have never felt it so much in my life as I did hiking that mountain. And I feel it in the Positive Community Kitchen every week.”

Watch this video featuring Shanna and this year’s finalists in the community award category.

2019 Health Care Award Winner: Dr. Charles Anderson, gynecologic oncologist at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center

Challenging, rewarding and humbling, Dr. Charles Anderson’s work in gynecologic oncology has given him a better understanding and a new perspective on life.

“It’s a job of highs and lows. When it goes really well, you feel great and you feel that you’ve made a difference in the world. And, when things don’t go well, you really struggle with it emotionally,” Dr. Anderson says.

Dr. Anderson was instrumental in bringing gynecologic cancer clinical research trials to Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center four years ago. The initial trials were focused mainly on ovarian cancer and involved research on a national level. Since then, WVCI has expanded its clinical trials to include other types of gynecologic cancers, such as cervical cancer and endometrial cancer.

“Sometimes you get profound results,” he says. “I have several patients who have not recurred, their disease is completely stable or gone.”

Devoted to his patients’ well-being, Dr. Anderson believes in patient-centered care that goes beyond diagnosis and treatment. “A lot of this job is not medicine, in terms of giving people drugs or operating on them, it’s taking care of them and their families on a personal level,” he says.

Dr. Anderson says he’s seen gynecologic cancer survival rates improve dramatically through new therapies and treatments in the past 10-15 years.

“My goal in life is to live long enough to see ovarian cancer cured, and I think that day will come,” he says. “Gynecologic cancers are more treatable than they have ever been. What was once a deadly disease is now a chronic disease for many patients. Now, we hope to take that chronic disease and make it curable—and we’re getting there; it just needs to happen faster.”

Watch this video featuring Dr. Anderson and this year’s award finalists in the health care category.


Finalists chosen for Wings of Hope Awards

Hope Awards Finalists

The Oregon Cancer Foundation is proud to acknowledge individuals in the community who demonstrate extraordinary care and compassion to those affected by cancer. The OCF Wings of Hope Awards recognize those 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:

Colleen Glick & Lisa Milton
True believers in the healing power of exercise, Colleen Glick and Lisa Milton are instructors with the LIVESTRONG at the Y program at the Eugene Family YMCA. The free, 12-week program helps cancer survivors overcome the physical and emotional toll they often experience during and after treatment by addressing side effects including lymphedema, neuropathy, range of motion challenges and fatigue. LIVESTRONG participants receive individualized attention in a group setting, and Colleen and Lisa are a big part of that. Their authenticity and compassion to help improve the lives of each participant leaves a lasting impression.

Shanna Hutton
Passionate about food and healthy living, Shanna Hutton co-founded Positive Community Kitchen (PCK), a nonprofit that involves teen and adult volunteers in preparing nutrient-rich, organic, no-cost meals for people fighting life-threatening illnesses. In the fall of 2018, Shanna took her efforts to support PCK to new heights when she and her husband climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest mountain in Africa. Shanna used this once-in-a-lifetime excursion as a fundraiser for Positive Community Kitchen, but also as a way to honor the struggles and determination that cancer patients face every day.

Debbie Wright
When her 13-year-old daughter, Staci, was diagnosed with bone cancer, Debbie Wright did everything she could to help her daughter feel as normal as possible while going through chemotherapy treatment. After losing her hair, Staci didn’t want to go to school, so her parents purchased a prosthetic hair system that helped Staci feel more confident. Hair systems cost several thousand dollars, and Debbie recognized that wasn’t an expense most families could afford on top of medical expenses. In 2007, she and Staci launched the Angel Hair Foundation to provide quality hair systems to children in Oregon who have suffered hair loss due to a medical illness. Each January, Angel Hair Foundation hosts Shall We Dance, a dance competition and fundraiser, which allows more children to be helped.

The finalists in the Healthcare Category are:

Nikki Thaut
As the chief radiation therapist at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, Nikki Thaut found her career in oncology through guidance from her parents and partly by chance. Fascinated by the ever-advancing technology of radiation therapy, Nikki has spent 24 years caring for patients and their families, helping them through one of the scariest times in their lives. Her commitment to her patients is outstanding. During the recent February snowstorm, Nikki took to social media and called a local radio station, asking for help to clear snow from the clinic’s parking lot so that patients could get to their appointments safely. Her efforts paid off and, in no time at all, two gentlemen showed up with snowplows and got right to work, volunteering their time to help out.

Dr. Merideth Wendland
When Dr. Merideth Wendland was young, she never had much interest in becoming a doctor—now, she can’t imagine a greater calling. Seeing cancer touch her own family was a driving force in her decision to become a radiation oncologist. Dr. Wendland plays a pivotal role in providing high-tech, life-saving treatment to patients diagnosed with a variety of cancers, but who all have one thing in common: they want to receive the best care possible. Dr. Wendland’s mild manner and attentiveness to each patient helps to relieve their fear and anxiety while providing comfort and hope.

Dr. Charles Anderson
As a gynecologic oncologist, Dr. Charles Anderson is committed to helping women through what is often the scariest, most vulnerable time in their life. Seeing cancer repeatedly touch his own family is what drew him to the field, but it’s the strength and determination of the women he treats that inspire and drive him. Four years ago, he took patient-centered care a step further and was instrumental in bringing gynecologic cancer clinical research trials to Willamette Valley Cancer Institute. Since then, additional trials have opened at WVCI and more than 70 patients have been enrolled. These promising new therapies provide additional treatment options that would be otherwise unavailable to patients in Lane County.

The award winners will be announced on May 14, 2019.


Get connected with these OCF events and activities

Connect

From new support group opportunities to preparing freezer meals for patients, and even learning to dance the tango, there are fun and exciting things happening to support patients through the Oregon Cancer Foundation.

Classes and support groups
The following support groups and classes are hosted by Oregon Cancer Foundation at our office at 2296 Oakmont Way in Eugene.

Spring Survivorship Series
Registration is now open for OCF’s Spring Survivorship Series, a 10-week series of classes that provide information and support to manage the challenges that arise after cancer treatment. Topics include: managing anxiety about cancer recurrence, sadness, depression and other emotions; understanding how cancer impacts relationships; and learning how to eat and exercise to be healthy and reduce risk of recurrence. Each session includes an expert presentation, followed by a facilitated group discussion.

When: Every Thursday, April 4 – June 6
Time: 6:00 p.m.
This series of classes is free to attend, but registration is required. Learn more and sign up here.

Alumni Support Group
When: Second Monday of the month
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
This group is for anyone who has attended Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Survivorship Series in the past.

Breast Cancer Support Group
When: Second Wednesday of the month
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
This group is for anyone who has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, at any stage: newly diagnosed, undergoing treatment, and survivorship. All are welcome.

Coffee, Tea & Cancer
When: Second Thursday of the month
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
This group is for anyone diagnosed with cancer, at any stage of their journey.

GYN Support Group
When: Fourth Wednesday of the month
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
This group is for anyone who has been diagnosed with any form of gynecological cancer, at any stage: newly diagnosed, undergoing treatment and survivorship. All are welcome.

Volunteer Opportunities
We are so thankful to local groups and individuals who donate their time and efforts to raise funds to support OCF’s mission. Consider getting involved in these fun events:

Monthly Freezer Meals
Each month, Oregon Cancer Foundation partners with a local Wildtree representative, Erin Cunning, and prepares 100 meals for the month. Ten families each receive 10 prepared and packaged freezer meals that are ready for the slow-cooker. These meals are a source of help and comfort for patients undergoing treatment and their caregivers.

For this project, OCF has reserved the incubator kitchen at Hummingbird Wholesale once a month. This fully-stocked commercial kitchen provides the space needed to prep the meals in a safe and sterile environment. The kitchen is located in the Stellaria Building, also the home of Hummingbird Wholesale, at 150 Shelton McMurphey Blvd. in Eugene.

No cooking experience is required when you volunteer. If you can chop vegetables, measure spices, open canned foods and fill storage bags with prepared meal ingredients, you’re qualified! All that we request is approximately two hours of your time, that you wear closed-toe shoes for safety purposes and bring your favorite kitchen knife to cut the vegetables. OCF will provide you with an apron, all the instructions and food. Enjoy a great time helping others!

If you or your group is interested in volunteering in our monthly freezer meal preparation, please reach out to katie@oregoncancerfoundation.org.

Have fun and get active

Tango for a Cause
Interested in learning the fine art of Argentine Tango? Instructors Charles & Wella Augustine offer classes every Friday at Celebrations Belly Dance and Yoga Studio, with proceeds benefiting OCF. “Argentine Tango is very different from the Tango in International and American ballroom dancing,” says instructor Charles Augustine. “It’s an improvisational social dance. There’s no competition involved; it’s really about everyone’s own personal style, despite their skill level.” Classes are offered for beginners, intermediate and advanced dancers. These are drop-in friendly classes, and you do not need to come with a partner. Learn more about upcoming classes by following Dance for a Cause on Facebook.

Team Endure
Looking to get active and physically stronger? Team Endure is currently recruiting members. This local group brings together people with different fitness levels—beginners to seasoned athletes—to train for endurance events. But they don’t just take on the challenge for their own benefit; they do it to support cancer patients through OCF’s Financial Assistance Program. Team Endure trains year-round, participating in events, like century bike rides, triathlons and half marathons, but their main focus is participating in the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival each June in Sunriver, Oregon. For more information, email: teamendure@oregoncancerfoundation.org.

Cooking healthy
Oregon Cancer Foundation continues to partner with Positive Community Kitchen (PCK) to offer free monthly classes on healthy eating and nutrition, provided for cancer survivors and their families. Shanna Hutton, PCK’s board president and a former chef for the organization, 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. The NOURISH: Food for Life classes are held at various locations throughout the community each month. For the complete schedule, click here.

Supporting survivors when they need it most
Financial assistance is the core of Oregon Cancer Foundation, providing stopgap funds to patients undergoing cancer treatment in Lane County. Patients can apply for assistance by calling 541-632-3654, or email requests@oregoncancerfoundation.org.


2019 Wings of Hope Award Nominations

2/27/19 UPDATE: Due to the unexpected snowstorm and subsequent power outage, the deadline for submissions has been extended until March 4th to allow for those affected by the storm to submit their nomination.

Nominate those who provide hope for cancer patients

Awards 2018

 

Cancer is not an easy road to travel. Fortunately, there is no shortage of people willing to dedicate their talents, skills and time to making the cancer journey easier through their efforts to heal, support and advocate for patients and their families.

Oregon Cancer Foundation is now accepting nominations for its Wings of Hope Awards, to honor individuals who demonstrate extraordinary caring and compassion to those in our community affected by cancer.

“Cancer touches us all in some way and we all know someone who is extraordinarily compassionate; who gives his/her time freely to help others as they battle cancer,” says OCF executive director Amy Johnston. “It could be a doctor, nurse or medical assistant, or perhaps a friend, sister, brother or neighbor. Each patient I speak with has their own story of someone who has provided unwavering support during their battle with cancer. We want to recognize these beacons of hope in the community and say ‘thank you.’”

If you know an outstanding individual in the health care field or a community member who is making a difference to support cancer survivors in our area, please fill out our nomination form here and tell us more.

All nominations must be submitted by Friday, March 1, 2019.


OCF receives grant to help identify the needs of caregivers

Caregiving

The Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF) recently received a $10,000 tier-one grant from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Community Partnership Program to help identify and address the needs of caregivers in Lane County.

The reality is that cancer affects more than the person diagnosed with the disease, says Oregon Cancer Foundation Executive Director Amy Johnston. Caring for a family member or friend with cancer can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of support and educational resources available to caregivers in our community.

“Often, it’s their village that goes through the experience with them—their family members and friends who are caring for them. If we can identify what types of resources they need and then provide a roadmap on how and where to access that support, we can make the caregiving experience a little easier,” she says.

Supporting caregivers in meaningful ways
To help improve the situation, we will use the grant funding to identify what caregivers need and figure out ways to meet those needs through the following process:

  • Information gathering
    We will gather information from social workers, patient navigators, doctors and nurses in the community who work to guide patients and caregivers from diagnosis through survivorship. We will also speak with caregivers to gather information about their personal experiences and challenges. We will then create focus groups to further explore the most pressing issues.

  • Creating and conducting a caregiver survey
    Once the needs analysis is complete, we will compile the information to create survey questions, then distribute the survey to caregivers in the community. The goal is to receive 300 or more completed surveys. If you are a caregiver willing to participate in the survey, please email andrew@oregoncancerfoundation.org

  • Building solutions
    Once the completed surveys are analyzed, we will move forward on creating solutions to address caregivers’ needs.

“We may discover that we can formulate a program or pieces of a program aimed at addressing specific issues, either with existing funding or additional grants,” Amy says. “Or, it might be that some of our partners in the community are in a better position to do that. By working together, we’re pooling our expertise in finding the best solutions.”

Get involved
The entire process—from information gathering to solution planning—is expected to take about a year. If you are currently a caregiver or have been a caregiver to a cancer patient in the past and are interesting in completing the survey, please email andrew@oregoncancerfoundation.org or call the Oregon Cancer Foundation office at 541-632-3654.


New office space means new classes and support groups in 2019

OCF-office

 

This holiday season, the Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF) is thankful for an incredible gift that is allowing us to better serve cancer survivors in our community—new office space!

Our new 2,000-square-foot office on Oakmont Way, in Eugene, originally served as the field office for Chambers Construction, while the company was building the Hyatt Place Eugene hotel at Oakway Center. As that project neared completion, Chambers Construction president and OCF board member Dave Bakke contacted Steve Korth at McKay Investment Company, which owns the office space.

“I asked him what he was going to do with the space after we left,” Dave says. “He told me they had no plans for it, so I asked if he would be willing to donate it to the foundation. Steve took a short pause and then said, ‘Absolutely.'”

McKay Family Investments gifted OCF the office space rent-free for two years, giving OCF our first brick and mortar home. Chambers Construction generously donated time and materials to spruce up the space, installing new carpet and giving the walls a fresh coat of paint.

“This project aligns perfectly with our company’s core purpose, which is to build things that are important in people’s lives. Providing this space to the foundation is going to allow OCF to help more people in more ways,” Dave says.

The new OCF office is in a convenient location and offers plenty of parking. Executive Director Amy Johnston says she couldn’t be more grateful for this incredible gift.

“The office includes a large open space that is perfect for classes and support groups. We will be able to serve more patients with more programs and resources. This is more than we could have ever hoped for,” she says.

New space brings new classes and support groups
Beginning in January 2019, Oregon Cancer Foundation will offer new support opportunities for cancer survivors and caregivers at its office, located at 2296 Oakmont Way in Eugene:

Coffee, Tea & Cancer
When: Second Thursday of the month
Time: 9:30 am – 10:30 am
This group is for anyone diagnosed with cancer, at any stage of their journey.

Alumni Support Group
When: Second Monday of the month
Time: 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
This group is for anyone who has attended Oregon Cancer Foundation’s Survivorship Series in the past.

Breast Cancer Support Group
When: Second Wednesday of the month
Time: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
This group is for anyone who has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, at any stage: newly diagnosed, undergoing treatment, and survivorship. All are welcome.

GYN Support Group
When: Fourth Wednesday of the month
Time: 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
This group is for anyone who has been diagnosed with any form of gynecological cancer, at any stage: newly diagnosed, undergoing treatment and survivorship. All are welcome.

I finished treatment, now what?
Registration is now open for OCF’s Winter and Spring Survivorship Series, a 10-week series of classes that provide information and support to manage the challenges that arise after cancer treatment.

Over the course of 10 evening sessions we will feature a variety of topics including:

  • Understanding how relationships are impacted while on the cancer journey.
  • Learning how to eat and exercise to help 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.
  • Discussing cognitive and behavioral strategies to increase well-being and resiliency.
  • Learning about integrative care and alternative healing methods, such as naturopathy, acupuncture, massage and other complementary approaches and how they can improve your cancer journey.

Winter Survivorship Series
When: Every Tuesday, starting Jan. 15 – March 19
Time: 6:00 pm
This series of classes is free to attend, but registration is required. Learn more and sign up here.

Spring Survivorship Series
When: Every Thursday, starting April 4 – June 6
Time: 6:00pm
This series of classes is free to attend, but registration is required. Learn more and sign up here.

Supporting survivors when they need it most
Patient assistance is the core of Oregon Cancer Foundation, providing stopgap funds to patients undergoing cancer treatment in Lane County. Patients can apply for assistance by calling 541-632-3654, or emailing amy@oregoncancerfoundation.org