When Amber Bell learned she has stage 4 colon cancer in 2016, she was devastated by the news.
“I had no family history of cancer. I was living healthy; I took care of myself. I’d just run a marathon, so it was a big shock,” she says.
One of the first concerns for this former school teacher was finding support for her three young daughters. They were scared, and they worried about what was going to happen to their mom.
“I called the Oregon Cancer Foundation and asked, ‘Do you have a list of therapists or other people who could help us? What resources do you have for children?’ Instantly, I got a phone call back with a list of resources of people that I could call and camps that my kids could attend.”
Immediate support for cancer patients in Lane County
Eugene-based Oregon Cancer Foundation has been a resource for the Bells in a variety of ways, including paying one of the family’s utility bills through its Financial Assistance Program. Amber has also participated in the foundation’s Survivorship Series—a free, ten week program that helps survivors address issues and questions that often arise following cancer treatment—and gets help from a program that feeds her family nutritious meals when she’s not able to cook.
“When you are undergoing treatment, you don’t have energy and you don’t really have an appetite, but my children still need to be fed,” Amber says. “The foundation provided freezer meals for us that my children can pull out and put in the Crockpot; my husband can do it, or I can do it the morning before I go to treatment.”
The foundation’s Freezer Meal Program is made possible each month by volunteers in the community who donate their time, along with the help of Long’s Meat Market, Wildtree representative Erin Cunning and Homegrown Delivery Company.
Making sense of the senseless
Processing life with cancer has been a daily struggle for Amber. Following her diagnosis, she started a blog to help her better cope with how the disease has impacted her and her family.
“The blog is pretty raw and it’s very honest,” she says. “I don’t even know who is reading it, but that’s stopped mattering to me as much as it’s provided a way for us to share our experience with someone else and hope that it makes a difference.”
What’s made a difference for Amber is knowing that there are local resources available to support her family.
“The Oregon Cancer Foundation has really looked at us as a family, not just like, ‘Oh here’s another cancer patient,’ but rather, ’Here’s a person who had a life before this that was altered—and still has a life and wants to continue to live in a way that is happy for them.’ And there’s no judgement; there’s only understanding.”
To learn more about Oregon Cancer Foundation and additional patient services in the community, click here.