When Brenda Mills of Springfield was diagnosed with stage 2 triple negative breast cancer in June of 2016, she knew she was in for the fight of her life, physically and mentally. What she didn’t expect was that cancer would also cost a financial toll.
“I knew I would have to fight medically and that was a lot to handle. I wasn’t prepared to fight financially,” Brenda says.
Brenda underwent months of chemotherapy, followed by surgery and reconstruction. When treatment temporarily prevented her from working, she worried how she would make ends meet. She’s grateful to her friends and family who rallied around her, holding fundraisers and doing what they could to help her pay the bills. Then, she discovered Oregon Cancer Foundation (OCF).
“Right as things seemed to get a little bit scary for me, I got a phone call from Amy Johnston with the Oregon Cancer Foundation, and she asked, ‘Is there a bill that we could help you pay?'” Brenda says. “She lit up my world because at that moment I knew I could stay in my apartment for at least another month. That was a huge deal for me.”
Amy Johnston, OCF’s executive director, says: “Financial toxicity for cancer patients is very real. Often, patients have to make hard life choices, like whether to buy groceries or how to pay the rent. We can step in, and we can provide them with funding that will help.”
Help when it’s needed
The financial assistance OCF offers is often provided during a time of crisis, when a patient’s other resources have been exhausted. Because the foundation is local, it’s able to help patients quickly, when they need it most.
One hundred percent of OCF’s funding comes from individual and corporate donations, event sponsorships, civic groups and community fundraisers.
“In 2017, we’ve seen more applications for assistance than ever before, and I’m happy to say that we’ve been able to fill 100% of the requests we’ve received,” Amy says. “But as more people learn about us, that means we have to raise more money, so that we can continue to fulfill the applications that we receive.”
Lending a hand
To help cancer patients in Lane County, Brenda and many others are participating in this year’s Bras for Cause community campaign to support Oregon Cancer Foundation.
Brenda helped her surgical team create one of the 61 entries in this year’s contest, and every dollar donated through online votes stays in the local community, helping patients in need. Check out all of this year’s decorated bras at brasforcause.org. One dollar equals one vote, and voting is open through the end of the month.
“The Oregon Cancer Foundation touches lives. It touched my life and it will continue to touch people’s lives who need it. We have to support this foundation,” Brenda says.
There will be dinner, music, a fashion show, a silent auction and this year’s Bras for Cause winners will be announced.
Tickets are $35 and can be purchased here.