Doctor's brush with cancer causes new appreciation for life
Relay for Life of the Woodburn Area is replacing its annual relay with a scavenger hunt this year. Hunt for the Cure will start at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 30 at Legacy Health Woodburn Health Center at 1475 Mount Hood Ave.
Relay for Life has raised over $1.1 million in the last 17 years in Woodburn for cancer research and patient support. This year participants will hunt for clues in teams of up to four across Woodburn, visiting business sponsors of the organization and posting pictures from the scavenger hunt on Instagram and Facebook to score points.
After the scavenger hunt local restaurants will provide samples from their menus for the Taste of Relay event from 5 to 7 p.m., followed by an awards ceremony and the candlelight Luminaria ceremony at 8:30 p.m.
Relay for Life is hosting a cancer survivor dessert and open house ahead of Hunt for the Cure at Woodburn Health Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 20.
Mayda Ramos, Doctor of Internal Medicine at Legacy Health in Mount Angel, knows well about the value of education and community support for cancer patients.
"Any organization that supports community outreach for education, research, information, support, is something that we are bound to advance and cooperate with. We should care for each other. It doesn't matter if I know you or not, that's what a community is," Ramos said.
Ramos is herself a survivor of breast cancer. She said as a physician she was prepared to seek treatment, ask questions and take appropriate action to treat her illness. But, unlike her, most patients do not have a medical background.
"For people who don't have a background in medicine or do not have the right questions to ask, resources like the American Cancer Society are great because they can get all sorts of information. And the relays raise funds for the ladies and men, who need these kinds of resources," Ramos said.
Ramos said that when she was diagnosed it came as a surprise: Her risk factors were minimal and she leads a healthy lifestyle. Still, she knew what steps to take.
"I was like, OK, I have so many patients that have the same thing," she said. "So I just went with the same routine, doing everything I needed to do, consultations with surgeons, radiation, all these things."
But when Ramos was diagnosed with cancer in the other breast less than a year later, she said the situation felt much more serious.
"That really hit my heart," she admitted. "That second round really was the one that opened my eyes that I was susceptible to die. It put me into contact with my humanity and my mortality more than anything."
Ramos said she felt grateful to live in a time when treatment for breast cancer has become more advanced and can be tailored for individual patients.
"Not everybody needs chemotherapy, not everybody needs certain medications like hormones, it really makes a big difference," Ramos said.
Ramos, who is originally from Puerto Rico, said she was inspired to become a doctor by her parents, who raised her with a strong sense of community service. She originally wanted to study biology in college, but began to question if she only wanted to do research. She attended medical school in Puerto Rico and did three years of internal medicine residency and gastroenterology fellowship at Providence Medical Center in Michigan. Ramos has worked with Legacy Health in Oregon for 25 years.