When Holly Stamper recently visited the home of Oregon football with her daughter, she was in awe of her surroundings.

“The last time I watched a football game at Autzen Stadium, I was in high school,” she says. “That was a long time ago, and it certainly didn’t look like this!”

Holly is an endometrial cancer survivor. She and 10 other Willamette Valley Canter Institute patients were recently invited to tour Autzen, as well as the Moshofsky Center and the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex—the operations center for Oregon’s football program. The tour kicked off the second year of the Fight Like a Duck campaign, a partnership between Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Oregon Athletics, celebrating the strength of those fighting cancer in our area.

Seven local cancer survivors are each being honored as “Heroes of the Game” this season, during the Ducks’ home football games. In addition, local patients will also be honored at three upcoming “pink” games during the Oregon women’s volleyball, basketball and softball seasons.

“Cancer, like any other diagnosis, is all-encompassing. It affects not only the patients but also their family members and friends,” says WVCI medical oncologist Dr. Marc Uemura. “This gives us an opportunity to recognize that our patients are fighting hard for their health and to support them through that.”

What is the Fight Like a Duck campaign?
The Fight Like a Duck campaign celebrates the strength and tenacity of those fighting cancer in our area, and aims to raise awareness about the high-quality, multidisciplinary care provided in our community, including the latest cancer therapies.

“We have over 25 clinical trials going on in our clinic at any given time that are testing new molecules in an effort to advance the standard of care for many cancers,” Dr. Uemura says. “So, we don’t just have chemotherapy anymore. We now have many other therapies that are available to treat cancer—all of which were studied in clinical trials and proven to have benefits for cancer patients.”

A look behind the scenes
During the tour, the group posed for a lot of pictures—on Autzen’s turf and with Marcus Mariota’s Heisman trophy. They also got a look inside the Ducks’ impressive facilities, including the press room, where coaches and players field questions from reporters after each home game.

For Jay Trunnel, a four-year survivor of colon cancer and a life-long Ducks fan, this tour was a bucket list experience.

“Having this opportunity really does make a big difference to a cancer patient,” he says. “Your life is so different after your diagnosis. Everything has changed—your financial situation, your work situation—so much is out of your control. So, when you have a situation like this, where you can be happy and not worry about that stuff for a little while, it makes a big difference.”

Celebrating our patients

Throughout the Fight like a Duck campaign, WVCI is sharing patients’ inspiring stories on its social media channels and hosting fun activities at its Eugene clinic, including giveaways and visits by the Oregon Duck mascot.

If you are a local cancer patient and would like to share your story and participate in the Fight Like a Duck campaign, simply fill out the survey at fightlikeaduck.com and upload a photo of yourself in your Duck gear. Go Ducks!