Philanthropic Outpouring at Annual Providence Cancer Center Luncheon of Hope

May 27, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. — Providence Cancer Center supporters donated a record amount – $205,000 – during this year’s 16th annual Creating Hope for Cancer Patients luncheon after hearing powerful and personal stories from those touched by cancer. That brought the total figure for the event to $500,000. 

“Hope is a choice, and I chose hope,” Chris Spielman told the 650 guests attending the luncheon. Spielman, the father of four, an ESPN analyst and former pro football player was the keynote speaker at this year’s gathering. He spoke with passion about his complete commitment to football until his 30-year-old wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. During the next 12 years they battled five recurrences of the disease together until her death, advocating for other patients, and raising money for research. 

Spielman reminded the crowd Providence Cancer Center researchers are making tremendous strides in immunotherapy treatments, but they need the help of donors to make ideas and concepts real for patients who are waiting and hoping for a cure. 

“In cancer there are great wins and great losses, but no ties,” explained the ESPN analyst. He urged the crowd to help give patients a win by supporting the work of Earle A. Chiles Research Institute. The record-setting response shows the attendees responded to his call for action.

Two other speakers also commanded the attention of the crowd. The large banquet hall was silent as Mark and Ane Hornibrook shared their story of hope. Two years ago Mark went to the doctor for a persistent cough. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma and given only months to live. Tumors riddled his body. He was given months to live. He turned to Providence Cancer Center and Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D., oncologist and director, Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center in the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute, Providence Cancer Center.

Dr. Urba put Mark on the most current treatments in the market, thanks to research. Mark’s initial prognosis of “months-to-live” has stretched into two years, much of it tumor free. While his cancer has just returned, Mark intends to continue his fight combining hope with the power of research.

“If it wasn’t for research, I would not have been able to dance at my daughter’s wedding, and I would not be here now,” he said. “Dr. Urba and his team are working diligently with immunotherapy. Continued research is the only medical hope of a permanent cure.”

Dr. Urba told the crowd Providence’s sole focus on immunotherapy in cancer research is making a difference locally and around the world. He cited many of the firsts accomplished by Providence researchers, including the most recent – the first-in-the-world trial of a vaccine for high-grade glioma, the most common primary brain tumor in adults.

“The point of all our work is to try to improve the lives of our cancer patients,” said Dr. Urba. “We need more fathers to dance at their daughters’ weddings, we need more patients to have the time to spend with their families and watch their children grow.”

Referencing Spielman, Dr. Urba reminded the luncheon guests fighting cancer is like football, it is a team sport – and donors are a big part of the team. Philanthropy is playing a larger and larger role in developing new treatments as other funding subsidies.