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The healing power of a tutu

Kelly Lee is a firm believer that everyone should have an inner superhero. It just so happens that her alter ego wears colorful tutus and military boots. “Clark Kent has Superman. Kelly Lee has TuTu Girl,” she declares proudly. Donning colorful tutus is how the 51-year-old legal assistant channeled a strength she didn’t know she possessed during one of the most difficult periods of her life—a breast cancer diagnosis and the year of treatment [...]

By | August 16th, 2016|Blog, Patient Stories|

Breast cancer inspires patient to help others

Every Monday, Diana Whitmire drives to Willamette Valley Cancer Institute's RiverBend clinic in Springfield. Her standing appointment is not with her doctor—Diana's been cancer-free for 6 months—instead, she's there to meet with other patients.Diana volunteers at the Cancer Resource Center at RiverBend, a partnership between WVCI and the American Cancer Society."I have the ability to help brighten a patient's day by connecting them with resources and information," Diana says. "It's huge for me to have [...]

By | July 21st, 2016|Blog, Patient Stories|

WVCI staff celebrates survivorship at Relay for Life

Trenda Dominguez is grateful every day—grateful to assist patients though her job as a scheduler for Willamette Valley Cancer Institute's gynecologic oncology department and grateful to call herself a cancer survivor. Nearly ten years ago, at age 35 and just after the birth of her son, Trenda was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. "I remember being tired, and I didn't feel great, but I also had a newborn and I was in the process of [...]

A test of endurance, an act of compassion

If someone had told Dan Johnston last year that he would compete in a triathlon, he'd have said they were crazy. But, this weekend, Dan will compete at the Pacific Crest Weekend Sports Festival in Sunriver, Oregon. "I never imagined doing a triathlon in my life. Honestly, I thought it sounded awful," Dan says. "It blows my mind that I'm able to do this." Beside him at this weekend's race will be Kathy Eckert-Mason. [...]

By | June 22nd, 2016|Blog, Patient Stories|

Attitude is everything

When Fred Wittkop spoke at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute's Cancer Survivors Celebration earlier this month, he wanted those in attendance to know one thing: when it comes to cancer, having a positive attitude is critical. "The reality is you cannot control certain things that happen to you," Fred says. "You have to snap out of your funk and figure out what you're going to do next." Fred has always considered himself a positive person, [...]

By | June 20th, 2016|Blog, Patient Stories|

Lung cancer patient encourages others to ‘Be your best advocate’

Linda Pernell is looking forward to her 55th high school reunion this summer in southern Oregon, maybe more so than the average person. After being diagnosed with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), she wasn’t sure how much time she had left. “I’ve been through a lot and I feel like a different person,” Linda says, recalling the last several years—the physical toll of the cancer and the desperate search for an accurate diagnosis. [...]

By | May 23rd, 2016|Blog, Lung Cancer, Patient Stories|

Mother of four finds inspiration in music after cancer diagnosis

If someone wrote a country music song about Sara Kaster’s life, she would want it to exude hope, strength, perseverance and triumph. Those are the types of songs Sara listens to, to help her stay positive in her three and a half year fight against colorectal cancer. “I didn’t recognize the signs of the disease because I was pregnant with my youngest child,” The 38-year-old mother of four says. “When my son was 7 [...]

Young survivor plans for future after cancer

Lindsey Bills was excited about all the things she would learn when she enrolled at the University of Oregon. She didn’t expect cancer to become part of her learning experience. Everything changed for Lindsey when she noticed a swollen lymph node on the right side of her clavicle in November 2013. “On my 20th birthday, I was on a trip to Portland with some friends,” she says. “During the trip, I would get twinges [...]

Mother of five credits cancer catch to baby’s arrival

Sandra’s five children, including baby Sawyer As a wife and mother to five children, Sandra Brace’s plate was already full. Her youngest child, Sawyer, arrived in May of 2015. At 35 years old and symptom-free, she never expected to have cancer. “My husband and I thought we were done having babies, then I got pregnant with Sawyer,” Sandra said. “My doctor actually found the cancer at my six-week post-partum checkup.” Sandra’s doctor [...]

By | January 6th, 2016|Blog, GYN Cancers, Patient Stories|

Local musician receives helping hand after cancer diagnosis

Eugene musician Paul Biondi has music in his blood. The 58-year-old picked up his first musical instrument in the fourth grade and has been playing professionally since age 13. "I love what I do every day of my life," Paul says. "I'm so grateful to work on my craft for a living." During his musical career, Paul has played with greats like Frank Sinatra, Tina Turner and Barbara Streisand. He's known for his ability [...]

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