By Janet Goetze
For the Hollywood Star News
The Providence Cancer Center raised a record $615,000 for research at its 17th annual “Creating Hope for Cancer Patients” luncheon where attendees heard words of hope and humor from former patients.
Those attending the May event heard Mark Williams, an early recipient of immunotherapy for advanced melanoma. Now, eight years later, he enjoys the company of his grandchildren.
Providence, at 4805 N.E. Glisan St., has conducted groundbreaking immunotherapy research, which is designed to enhance the resistance of the immune system to active cancer.
A speaker from Australia, Julie Randall, had searched the world for a clinical trial to battle her stage IV metastatic melanoma. She found it in Portland at the Providence Cancer Center.
The keynote speaker, Marisa Acocella Marchetto, is a cartoonist for The New Yorker magazine and author and illustrator of the graphic memoir, “Cancer Vixen.” It chronicles the artist’s personal breast cancer journey. During her address, attendees roared with laughter as she described her “smother,” her sometimes overbearing mother. Then many wiped tears away as Marchetto realized her course of treatment meant she’d never have children.
“I never thought I would be a cancer patient,” Marchetto said. But challenged by a friend, she left behind the idea of “victim” and found her “vixen.” What had left her cowering suddenly became empowering, she said. Marchetto has raised more than $1 million for cancer research and to provide free mammograms for uninsured women in New York City, her hometown.
The cancer research at Providence is led by Dr. Walter J. Urba, Ph.D., an oncologist or cancer specialist.
“We work hard every day for cancer patients,” he said. “We work to give them hope. We are fighting to finish cancer.”