Portland, May 23rd, 2015. Humor and hope made for a winning combination at Providence’s 17th annual “Creating Hope for Cancer Patients Luncheon” which also marked the start of its #finishcancer campaign. The luncheon raised a record $615,000 for research at Providence Cancer Center, which is internationally known for its immunotherapy work. “CancerVixen” author and illustrator Marisa Acocella Marchetto hugs 10-year-old Scarlett Judson as Scarlett’s mother, Michelle Judson looks on. Scarlett and Michelle read Marchetto’s graphic memoire about her breast cancer journey several times over the course of Michelle’s own breast cancer treatment. The book prompted many conversations and Scarlett has since loaned it to classmates whose parents have been diagnosed with cancer. Scarlett* and Michelle* introduced Marchetto, Providence’s 17th annual Creating Hope for Cancer Patients Luncheon keynote speaker, to the crowd of more than 600.
Guest speaker Marisa Acocella Marchetto, a cartoonist for The New Yorker, is the author and illustrator of the graphic memoir “CancerVixen,” which chronicles the artist’s personal breast cancer journey. Her keynote address had the 600 luncheon attendees roaring with laughter as she described her sometimes overbearing mother (or as she put it, “smother”). Many then found themselves wiping tears away as Marchetto came to realize her course of treatment would mean never having children.
“I never thought I would be a cancer patient,” Marchetto said. But, challenged by a friend, she left behind being a “victim,” and found her “vixen.” “What had me cowering suddenly became empowering.” She ended her humorous and poignant talk by urging others to join in the fight, “Right here, right now – it is time to end cancer on this planet.”
And the crowd responded generously by raising $615,000 for cancer research at Providence, which is led by Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D., oncologist and director, Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center in the Earle A. Chiles Research Institute. “All of us have been touched by cancer,” Dr. Urba told the crowd. “We fight because of you.”
Dr. Urba’s team of nearly 90 researchers is part of an elite international network eliciting novel immunotherapy treatments from the laboratory and quickly getting them into clinical trials with patients. “We work hard every day for cancer patients,” Dr. Urba said. “We work to give them hope. We are fighting to finish cancer.”
To learn more about Providence Cancer Center, visit finishcancer.org.