'I'm so grateful': Annual event this weekend raises funds for cancer patients

EUGENE, Ore. - At first glance, you would never know Rae Henry is sick. But last December, her world was turned upside down.

"I found a lump and at first it really hurt," she said.

Weeks later she received news that the lump she discovered turned out to be breast cancer.

"It was just kind of ... oh my gosh, what is happening," she said. "I was very scared because it doesn't run in my family."

Now five days a week, Henry rides a bus from Florence with other cancer patients, to the Willamette Valley Cancer Institute for radiation treatments.

"It's nice to talk to somebody else about what's going on with what you're doing too," said Henry.

But riding to Eugene five times a week means Henry can't work, making it hard to support herself financially.

"I'll be honest with you, it's very hard," she said.

That's where the Soroptimists step in. Henry is one of many female patients who take advantage of their breast and gynecologic cancer assistance fund run through WVCI.

"The patients come to me and are in pretty serious emotional straights wondering, how am I gonna pay the rent? How am I gonna put food on the table?" said Oncology Care Manager Gretchen Matsuoka.

Matsuoka helps run the program, which helps female cancer patients in Lane County, like Henry, make ends meet. The program gets most of it's funding from the annual Soroptimist Walk to Live, being held this Saturday in Eugene.

Matsuoka said the close to $20,000 raised annually helps roughly 100 patients at WVCI.

"We can't do a lot for patients, but we can, you know, really step in, assess the need with them and see how we can help." Matsuoka said.

Henry said without it, she doesn't know where she'd be.

"It's helped me with my rent and some of my utilities," she said." I'm grateful, I'm so grateful."

The Walk to Live kicks off at 9 am at Maurie Jacobs Park in Eugene this Saturday, September 15. Registration starts at 8 am.

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