Women Fundraising for a Cure
In addition to this neon event, Links for Life will be hosting several fundraising events this month to promote breast cancer awareness. The organization also offers free mammograms, ultrasounds, needle biopsies, wigs, support groups, and seminars.
"All the money that Links for Life raises through our fundraisers stays in Kern County to assist the women and families effected by breast cancer," says Links for Life's Executive Director, Jennifer Henry.
This organization and its fundraising accomplishments could not be possible without the volunteers and their countless hours of support. "The women who support Links for Life through coordinating fundraising event and programs, make it possible for us to relieve some of the stress of the women diagnosed with breast cancer – giving them hope for the future," Jennifer says.
KCFM wanted to highlight three of these extraordinary women who spend countless hours promoting and fundraising for breast cancer awareness: Dr. Francesca Hoehne, Stana Bright, and Tana Williams.
Tana Williams, a cervical cancer survivor and Links for Life volunteer, says, finding out you have any kind of cancer is scary. "When your doctor gives you the "C" word [diagnosis], you just kind of black out for a moment before you begin to set your path toward treatment," she says.
Volunteering for breast cancer awareness is important because if effects so many women. "It is very treatable in many cases, and there are new treatments and detection methods being developed every day. If we all keep fighting it, we might win some day," she says.
Tana and her husband, Larry, will co-chair Links for Life's 2nd annual Jazz & Jewelz event on October 3 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The ambience for this fundraiser is perfect: a beautiful home in Seven Oaks, the sound of jazz in the background, and hors d'ouvers being served while models showcase an assortment of diamonds from local jewelers. This event is limited to 150 guests, so register today at 322-5601 or visit www.linksforlife.org.
"It's mind boggling the amount of hours of volunteering that it takes to put together just one event, let alone the number [of events] we do just during October," she says. "It can be very humbling at times when you stop and think about what you can accomplish just by giving your time."
Larry and Tana make a good team – they volunteer together and work together at Work Force Services, Inc. Together they have two children, Joshua and Lauren, and two grandchildren, Makenzy and Rylie. They moved to Bakersfield from Texas in 2006.
Francesca Hoehne, M.D., a board-certified breast oncology surgeon, says the best part of her job is when a women walks out of her office feeling relieved. "It's not just about the ability to physically treat the people, but in breast surgery, it's also about providing the support to the patient to know that they can get through the process," she says. "It can be scary, and I hope that I help patients feel more secure about their health decisions after a consultation."
"I love it when my patients use their own experiences to prompt others to get a mammogram or to seek medical attention," she says. "By sharing their story, they have saved someone's life."
Since in high school, Francesca knew she wanted to be a surgeon, but it wasn't until medical school that she found her specialty in oncology after seeing surgical oncologists who cared for their patients both physically and emotionally. Then during her residency, she met a woman with breast cancer who came into the clinic with her two little girls. "That was when I knew I wanted to do something to impact the future of her kids," she says.
Dr. Hoehne is a member of the medical staff at Mercy Hospitals of Bakersfield and its Florence R. Wheeler Cancer Center and sits on the board of Links for Life. She graduated from the University of Chicago , Pritzker School of Medicine, finished her residency in General Surgery at Kern Medical Center (KMC), and completed a breast surgery fellowship at the John Wayne Cancer Institute.
Francesca is married to Amir Berjis, M.D., a thoracic oncology surgeon, and together they have an eight-month-old son who keeps them busy juggling their medical careers and family life.
Stana Bright, a two-time breast cancer survivor, believes that survivors should use their experiences to participate in community organizations to help others. "As a survivor, I feel my most important role is to be a positive example to others who are just beginning their journey or who need help along the way," she says.
"I have been inspired by working and helping other survivors. These women form a bond that is immeasurable, and I continue to be inspired by their faith and courage," Stana says.
First diagnosed with breast cancer in May 1991, Stana had a mastectomy followed by several months of chemotherapy. Then in May 2008, 17 years later, her cancer was back. She went through another surgery and more chemotherapy.
In addition to her 17 years of loyal service to the Links for Life program and her current position as board president, she also oversees the Wall of Hope edition for the Bakersfield Life Magazine, and volunteers for the American Cancer Society's Reach for Recovery and Relay for Life programs. She also attends educational programs provided by Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center to keep herself informed and up-to-date on breast cancer issues.
A Madera, California native, Stana met her husband, Larry, at Fresno State University, and they have been married for 39 years, 33 of which have been spent in Bakersfield. She retired from Fruitvale School District where she worked in the district office. They have two children, Michelle and Ryan.