The Oregonian, 8.28.2008

Cancer diagnosis spurs acts of giving back

By Jenn Director Knudsen, Special to The Oregonian

Diagnosed two years ago with Stage 3 breast cancer, Amy Paterson traipsed to nearly 150 medical visits: chemotherapy, radiation, a double mastectomy, physical therapy, an exercise study, nutrition consultations and more.

A young public relations professional, Paterson could put the job on hold. But not the care of son, Jonah, just 21/2.

Paterson had her husband and a stable of supportive friends and family. But what about women -- any ailing parent, for that matter -- with no support system?

She knew studies show that women caregivers often delay or avoid medical visits because they lack child care. She discovered that Ikea, Fred Meyer, some movie theaters, the Multnomah County court system, the Southwest Community Center and other places offer on-site child care. But not one local medical facility did.

So Paterson and friend Melissa Moore, with the help of a $5,000 award from the Avon Hello Tomorrow Fund, developed My Little Waiting Room, a program to provide low-cost, on-site, clean and safe child care for kids 11 and younger in any medical facility. It's set to become a nonprofit in December.

Paterson, 36, is one of a growing number of young people who, once finished with cancer treatment, are compelled and energized to make a difference for others.

"We're now looking at cancer as a chronic disease instead of a death sentence," said Selma Annala, supervisor of Cancer Integrative and Support Services with Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital & Medical Center in Northwest Portland. She's worked with cancer patients for more than 20 years.

"Cancer has a huge emotional impact," Annala said. "It's a lifelong thing, and that brings about the reason for someone to use (his or her) cancer experience to give back," she said.

(rest of article online)