Pennies, nickels and dimes add up to $500,000 as Safeway customers and employees help Providence battle breast cancer

May 08, 2012

Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D., Providence Cancer Center (left), celebrates the donation with Safeway representatives Cesar Duarte, Connie Gourley, Michael Brown, Tom Marshall, Dan Floyd and Holly Juttelstad, and breast cancer survivor Mary Jubitz.

Portland, Ore. — A few coins here, a dollar or two there – add it all together and in just one month, Safeway customers and employees in Oregon and Southwest Washington raised $500,000 for breast cancer awareness, treatment and research at Providence. Safeway representatives presented the grant today to Providence Cancer Center leaders.

Safeway customers and employees have made breast cancer at Providence a priority for the past five years. The latest donation brings Safeway’s combined multi-year contribution to Providence to $3.6 million. All that loose change will help bring a lot more change in the fight against breast cancer.

“Safeway’s strong and continued support over the years means a great deal to Providence Cancer Center researchers and, ultimately, the patients we serve,” said Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D., director, Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center in the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, Providence Cancer Center. “The customers and employees of Safeway believe, as do we, that we will find a way to beat cancer.”

“Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way,” said Dan Floyd, Safeway Oregon and SW Washington public affairs director. “It is our responsibility to come together and battle the disease.”

Projects funded by the grant include:
  • A study to learn when breast specific gamma imaging is most effective compared with MRI technology in screening for breast cancer. The study will contribute to the development of national guidelines around when these technologies are most useful, including one focusing on breast cancer. Medical oncologist Ali Conlin, M.D., is leading this team.
  • An anti-OX40 trial for breast cancer patients. Providence researcher Andrew Weinberg, Ph.D., discovered that a protein called OX40 could be used to help destroy cancers in mice. The world’s first clinical trial for patients was successfully completed in 2010. Two additional follow-up trials are under way now.
  • Completion of the Breast Health Registry Project Phase 1. An earlier Safeway Foundation grant launched this project, and the current grant will complete it. When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, she may see as many as 15 care providers during her treatment. The registry gathers all her information in one place, allowing providers to track the patient together and providing a more connected experience of care. It also allows Providence to measure outcomes – including which course of treatment is most effective for which women. The leaders of this project include Ali Conlin, M.D., Laurel Soot, M.D., Christina Gougoutas-Fox, M.D., Christine Cha, M.D. and Heidi Nelson, M.D.

In addition to research, the Safeway contribution will fund education and outreach in rural Oregon communities, as well as free mammograms and follow-up care for underserved women in the greater Portland area. In past years Safeway support financed a breast cancer research lab and multiple cancer studies.