An outpouring of giving: More than $400,000 boosts cancer research at Providence

May 17, 2013
Cancer survivors and researchers shared the stage at Providence Cancer Center’s 15th annual “Positive Perspectives: Creating Hope for Cancer Patients Luncheon” May 15 at the Oregon Convention Center. The 650 guests roared their approval by raising more than $400,000 for cancer research.

“Cancer is not for the faint of heart,” Michelle Judson, a Portland mother of three who is battling stage 3 breast cancer with the help of Providence, told the audience. “Something in you makes you want to stand up and fight. We live in an amazing time because of all the treatments that are available, and all that will become available through research.”

In the year since her diagnosis, Judson has undergone four surgeries, eight rounds of chemotherapy and a variety of other treatments. “I have had a soul-bending year, and I am still here,” she said.

Judson tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation – the same mutation affecting actress Angelina Jolie. This means Judson’s three young children are at risk for carrying the same mutation and facing cancers of the breast, ovaries and prostate. She believes research at Providence Cancer Center will mean her children will never have to go through what she is experiencing with the disease.

Luncheon keynote speaker and author Brian Doyle echoed Judson’s hope, challenging the crowd to help “buy minutes and hours and days” for cancer patients with a donation to cancer research.

“There will be a time when kids don’t cry because mom or dad has cancer,” Doyle said. He urged the audience to “reach out and shake your fist at cancer.”

Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D., director, Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center in the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, Providence Cancer Center, explained to the crowd that everyone faces a better future today than they did 15 years ago when Providence held the first cancer luncheon.

“People like you are investing in our team of researchers, and that has made a difference in how we can treat patients with cancer,” said Dr. Urba. He noted early cancer research work is often financed solely through philanthropy – and that investment is paying off with new therapies that give more time to advanced stage cancer patients.

The luncheon guests were inspired and entertained by the Pacific Youth Choir and director Mia Hall Savage, who also battled breast cancer this past year.

During the luncheon Dr. Urba honored the Safeway Foundation with the 2013 Earle M. Chiles Philanthropist of the Year Award. The Safeway Foundation, through customer and employee support, has given more than $4 million toward cancer research at Providence in recent years.

Dr. Urba also recognized the cancer center’s “good friend and loyal supporter” Bill Moore, who passed away recently. “Bill’s wife Rosemary died of cancer 10 years ago,” said Dr. Urba. “In her memory, he established the Moore Fountain of Hope in the Providence Cancer Center. It now is a fitting tribute to Bill, as well.”            

The 2013 luncheon is generously underwritten by the Yoshida Family. All proceeds from the luncheon will directly benefit research at the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center, part of the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute within Providence Cancer Center. The Chiles Research Institute is a world-class research center and one of only a few in the Pacific Northwest focusing exclusively on immunotherapy.