For the past year I have been working as the Communications Coordinator for Zero Breast Cancer from Southern Oregon. From the start, the mission statement of focusing on breast cancer prevention stood out to me as a unique perspective, as so many breast cancer organizations overlook these root causes. While I have forged strong relationships with my colleagues and an understanding of the organization from a distance, by recently attending the 16th Annual Dipsea Hike I gained a deeper sense of the wonderful work that ZBC does and the people they serve.
Ahead of Time
My first impression of hike preparation came as soon as I walked in the door on Thursday evening after a long drive from Oregon, where I was greeted warmly and put to work straight away. Much to be done, corrected, created, and processed, there wasn’t a moment to lose in the effort to make sure that everything was set up in an efficient and beautiful manner. The story behind each donation, volunteer, and sponsorship was rich in history and community. As Executive Director Rose Barlow shared each backstory, the connections illustrated a deeply entrenched organization that engages with their community in a sincere and thoughtful way. I couldn’t wait to do more hands-on work!
On Friday I had such an opportunity, going out into the gorgeous Old Mill Park with Hike Administrator Anne Hartwig to meet volunteer Chris Stewart and his wife Kimberley to set in place signage to mark the trail and also to securely set in place tables and chairs for the next day. I was blown away by the beauty of the trail and the vistas, admiring the treehouse homes and windy roads (not an easy path for a large truck to navigate but Anne was a very skilled driver!). The familiarity with and dedication to the hike that Chris and Kim have was evident and touched me so deeply – what a beautiful and meaningful way to honor the life of Annie Fox and now, her mother, Marjorie Bonner. As someone whose mother battled breast cancer and who succumbed to uterine cancer later in life, I was moved by the annual, public, and influential manner that the Dipsea Hike continues to keep their memory alive by supporting breast cancer prevention work through healthy living.
The day of the hike itself was very exciting for me, as I got to really see all the social media posts I had been making come to life! From monetary sponsors to breakfast donations, cleanup crews to prizes, it all came together in such a sweet way. I loved walking around and taking photos of excited and friendly participants gearing up for their hike and celebrating their accomplishment. I was motivated and moved by the eloquent speakers and the exciting announcement of Marjorie Bonner’s generous donation. It was a pleasure to observe a strong and dedicated community, one that has come together year after year to improve breast cancer prevention and survival outcomes. Furthermore, hearing personal stories and talking more in depth with people about why they keep coming back highlighted just how much an important role ZBC has in the community, to continue to carry this holistic message, teach future generations, and preserve the memory of loved ones who have passed from the disease.
I am grateful to my coworkers for their constant hard work on the ground, on the phone, on email, in the community, in the office, and on the trail as they maintain and juggle so many relationships that keep ZBC as current, effective, and well-supported as I witnessed at the Dipsea Hike on September 22nd. Here’s to many more years of hiking together until hopefully, someday soon, there will be no more need to raise money for prevention and we can just celebrate “zero breast cancer” as a fact of life.
Written by Helaine Alon, Zero Breast Cancer Communications Coordinator