Project Hummingbird raises money in the fight against breast cancer

Project Hummingbird raises money in the fight against breast cancer

KELSO, Wash. - Roy Seiber spends much of his spare time taking pictures of hummingbirds on his back deck. What started out as his hobby has turned into a symbol of his wife Julie's battle against breast cancer.

Some native Northwest tribes say the bird represents guidance and healing. 

"For me," says Roy, "the hummingbird was always a symbol of renewal because in the spring the rufous hummingbirds return – and also tenacity." 

They are qualities that the couple drew upon after Julie was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer six years ago.  

As a social worker, Roy was used to dealing with traumatic events, but the news that he might lose his wife of 22 years hit him hard.

"Basically it knocked me flat is what it did, and it was a very helpless feeling in some ways," he says.

For Julie, the news didn't come as a big surprise since she had a scare in 2002 when doctors found a benign tumor. Though she felt she had dodged a bullet then, she says she knew the bullet was still looking for her. 

"My first thought was I didn't want to do chemo, I don't want to do treatment and then Roy very gently told me that the option if you don't do chemo is you drop dead very quickly from cancer and it's going to be a lot uglier than chemo can possibly be.  That was what galvanized me into action," she says.

Friends and co-workers also took action, creating "Project Julie," to support the couple and to raise money for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  

"I was going through chemo when that happened," says Julie, "and I was just holed up in the house with my computer not really in touch with the outside world. So to hear that, to feel the waves of love that was washing over the both of us, was in itself healing." 

Julie even mustered enough strength to walk in the Race for the Cure that first year, helping her team raise $7000.  Going through a special photo album her friends made her, Julie points to a picture of the two of them taken during Race for the Cure.

"This is me bald and my survivor rose at the first race and Roy's quite emotional.  Look at his face," she says.

Over the years, as the project grew bigger and more friends were diagnosed with breast cancer, they changed the name of their team to Project Hummingbird to honor all those with the spirit and tenacity to fight this disease.

Today, Julie's cancer is in remission and Roy's hummingbird photos are displayed in local shops like Ram Jewelers in Longview where proceeds from the sale of the photos go to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Over the past six years, Project Hummingbird has raised about $23,000.