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.