For WVCI staff, Relay For Life is personal

Bonnie Allen has a unique perspective on cancer.

In her role as senior executive administrative assistant at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute, Bonnie supports doctors and staff in treating patients. As a mother, daughter, sister and granddaughter, Bonnie’s watched the disease repeatedly touch the lives of the people closest to her.

“We have a lot of cancer in our family,” Bonnie says. “When it bites you personally, you stand up and pay attention.” She doesn’t mind sharing her story, but the first question she asks is, ‘Where do I start?”

Perhaps the logical place for Bonnie to begin would be at age 19 when she was diagnosed with a form of lymphoma. She underwent surgery and remains cancer-free. Then again, maybe it makes sense to start Bonnie’s story two years earlier when her great grandmother lost her battle with breast cancer. Bonnie could also talk about her father’s melanoma, or when her sister, her aunt, her uncle and her cousin were told they had cancer.

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Posted July 28, 2015

What is Staging?

An important part of treating a patient’s cancer is to first find out how far it has spread, or what “stage” it has reached.

“We want to know: Where is the cancer? Has it spread from where it originated in the body? And if it has spread, to what degree?” says Willamette Valley Cancer Institute oncologist Dr. Wayne Ormsby.

Knowing the stage helps doctors plan the appropriate type of treatment, estimate a patient’s prognosis and identify clinical trials that may be suitable.

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Posted July 21, 2015

Immunotherapy is life-changing for melanoma patient

Mary Weber looks forward to her daily bike ride each morning. It wasn’t too long ago that she didn’t have the strength to walk up a flight of stairs, let alone exercise.

“I was really sick,” Mary said. “I couldn’t do anything that a healthy person could do.”

Having grown up in San Diego, Mary spent her childhood at the beach. That was before most people understood the importance of using quality sunscreen.

“I was very fair and freckled—a prime candidate for sun damage,” she said.

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Posted July 15, 2015

Do your skin a favor, don’t forget sunscreen

With skin cancer being the most common of all cancers, protecting yourself from the sun is something to think about all year long, especially on these hot, summer days.

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Posted July 8, 2015

Teen donates more than $3,000 to help cancer patients

Thirteen-year-old Bella Moses has a big heart and an even bigger desire to help those in need. Instead of receiving gifts for her recent bat mitzvah, she decided to improve people's lives.

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Posted July 2, 2015