From the Executive Director – Winter 2020

Dear Friends of Cancer Lifeline:
Silver Linings. A handful of unexpected but welcomed discoveries have powered us through this most challenging and disruptive year.
At the onset of the pandemic, like most organizations, Cancer Lifeline moved everything online and our staff quickly set up offices at their dining room tables. At the same time, we held our signature fundraiser, Breakfast with Friends, in the virtual world. Since we had no idea when we might go back into the office, our programming team held Zoom clinics to help our clients connect and facilitators optimize their online experience.
One of the first silver linings we experienced is that our online programs can reach even more people. Those who were already limited in their mobility or by their treatment were able to join our support groups and classes. With traffic and parking no longer barriers, attendance at some online programs doubled or even tripled.
Throughout this tumultuous year, our programming team has stayed in close contact with our hospital partners and social workers. Since we are a relatively small organization with 9 staff members, we can innovate quickly and nimbly. When we learned that the virus was taking its toll on the emotional wellbeing of healthcare workers, we worked with our facilitators to pilot a program for stress management and issues related to the pandemic.
Under the leadership of Susan Baumgaertel, MD, our annual Breakfast with Friends fundraiser moved from a 7:00 am sit-down Breakfast in downtown Seattle to a three-week online campaign. Exceeding our budgeted goal, this year’s Breakfast raised over $250,000. We coached our keynote speaker and clients to film themselves with their iPhones so that we could post their messages on our event webpage. All 21 board members stepped up to reach out to their networks to raise funds. Again, with barriers to in-person participation eliminated, we were pleased to see over 500 donors with more than 300 of them making their first-ever donation to Cancer Lifeline.
Early in the pandemic, we learned that our partner Komen Puget Sound was unable to continue funding the Komen Patient Assistance Fund affecting nearly 500 low-income breast cancer patients.
At the end of 2019, our fall fundraiser Resources for Hope raised over $420,000 which meant that we were able to continue funding to low-income breast cancer patients throughout 2020 as well as patients with other cancers. Under the leadership of Monica Adams, this year’s fundraiser, held as a live-streamed event on October 17, raised more than $500,000! These funds are one-time grants made to cancer patients in need who are faced with choosing to continue their health care and meeting life’s necessities.
As 2020 thankfully comes to an end, I would like to acknowledge the steadfast work of our board members under the leadership of President Ben Hicks and of our Advisory Board members, under the leadership of Chair Lynn Behar. These teams have actively supported our fundraising efforts, bringing new sponsors, friends, and donors into our circles to help us to surpass our goals. I want to personally thank all of our 2020 sponsors for sticking with us as we transitioned our fundraisers into digital formats.
I would like to also thank our extraordinary volunteers for sharing countless hours of their time, energy, talents, and ideas.
Among these remarkable silver linings – more clients attending our programs, more board members joining our ranks, more donors participating in our online fundraisers, more connectivity with our hospital partners – there is one in particular that shines more brightly and that is you. Thank you for making a difference in the lives of people living with cancer.
In gratitude,
Joseph Yurgevich
Executive Director