PORTLAND, Ore. – Hundreds of people, all of whom have been touched in some way by brain cancer, gathered at Willamette Park on Saturday to support each other and help raise money for research that could someday save lives.
It was all part of the National Brain Tumor Society's annual Brain Tumor Walk, a 5K walk along the scenic Willamette River.
You may not realize this, but every single day 575 people are diagnosed with a brain tumor – that's 210,000 each year. The statistics are sobering, especially considering that brain tumors have surpassed leukemia as the leading cause of cancer death in those less than 20 years old. Brain tumors also are the third leading cause of cancer death in young adults ages 20 to 39, according to the National Brain Tumor Society.
That said, at an event where everyone in the crowd had experienced tragedy, sorrow and profound sadness, it was amazing how many smiles were there. The motto "Inspire Hope. Take Action" wasn't just a message you could read on folks' T-shirts, it was a message you could see in their faces as well.
A brain tumor can develop in anyone at anytime. For 5-year-old Hayley Hutt, it has meant a life of chemotherapy, hospital stays and pain. Today, she has lost her ability to speak and is in a wheelchair. However, according to her family, she is now – thankfully – cancer free.
According to the National Brain Tumor Society, as many as 74 percent of children who get a brain tumor will survive. They are often left with long-term side effects, however, as in Hayley's case.
Hayley's mother, Jennifer Hutt, spoke to the crowd before the walk began, and talked about how amazingly strong her daughter has been through it all, adding that Hayley inspires hope for others.
"If Hayley can do it and make it, so can the next girl who comes along," Hutt told the crowd, whose hearts absolutely melted when the little girl smiled back and clapped her hands when they began applauding.
There are more than 120 different types of brain tumors, which makes finding an effective treatment very complicated. And because brain tumors are located at the control center for thought, emotion and movement, their effects on a person's physical and cognitive abilities can be devastating.
The most common symptoms of a brain tumor are headaches (especially those that wake you up in the morning), seizures in a person who does not have a history of seizures, cognitive/personality changes, eye weakness, nausea or vomiting, speech problems and memory loss. These types of symptoms also can indicate other medical problems, so you should see your doctor if you are experiencing these types of problems.
If you would like to learn more about brain tumors, the research that is being done or how you can help the cause, check out these resources:
- National Brain Tumor Society
- American Brain Tumor Association
- The Brain Tumor Foundation
- Types of brain tumors
On another note involving a different type of cancer, KATU is proud to be part of Susan G. Komen's largest fundraiser - Race for the Cure – which helps raise money for breast cancer research. This year's event in Portland is coming up in just a few weeks and we'd like you to join our team, "KATU Think Pink for the Cure." You can help us meet our goal of raising $10,000 for breast cancer research and you'll get a chance to meet and mingle with KATU's Debora Knapp, Steve Dunn, Shellie Bailey-Shah, Helen Raptis and more. In order to be on our team, or any team, you must sign up before noon on Monday, Aug. 30.
KATU's Helen Raptis, a breast cancer survivor, also is teaming up with the Oregon Women's Sailing Association for Sail for the Cure, which is coming up in a few weeks as well. This is the perfect way to join the cause if you or someone you know loves to sail.