When Farmers Insurance Group signed on as a national sponsor for City of Hope’s signature fundraising event, Walk for Hope Nationally Presented by Staples, it hit particularly close to home for one Farmers employee.
|Farmers’ Doris Dunn, right, and Tim Roe at Walk for Hope in 2009 (Photo by Paul Dingsdale)|
Doris Dunn, director of community relations at Farmers, understands firsthand the importance of raising awareness and advancing research for women’s cancers. Her family has experienced both breast and ovarian cancer, which led her to make tough decisions to protect her own health. Many of her fellow Farmers employees have turned to City of Hope for treatment, too.
These connections, forged over time between a company, its employees, its community and City of Hope, represent the deep, personal relationships that have made Walk for Hope a success for 16 years.
“Giving back to the community has always been one of our core values,” Dunn said. “We’re always looking for ideas that expand beyond Los Angeles, and knowing that members of the Farmers family have been treated at City of Hope, we thought it was important to participate.”
Walk for Hope is a series of nationwide fundraising walks that benefit the Women’s Cancers Program at City of Hope. The Los Angeles event took place Nov. 7 in Duarte. Farmers served as a local sponsor of the 2009 Los Angeles Walk for Hope, and the company also has backed City of Hope through longtime involvement in the National Insurance Industry Council, an industry volunteer group.
Dunn spoke at the 2009 event, and she believes passionately in the cause. She lost an aunt to ovarian cancer more than 30 years ago, and her mother died from breast cancer not long afterward.
“I can still get teary-eyed when I hear about somebody who’s been affected by breast cancer,” she said.
Then Dunn’s cousin, an ovarian cancer survivor, discovered that she carried a mutation in a gene called BRCA1. Women with this inherited genetic mutation are five times more likely than other women to develop breast cancer, and their risk for ovarian cancer is significantly higher as well. Following her cousin’s lead, Dunn made a tough decision: She took a genetic test.
When the results revealed that she also carried the BRCA1 mutation, she sought preventive surgery.
“I’m one of those people who can say I’ve gone from about an 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer down to a 1 percent chance,” said Dunn.
City of Hope researchers within the Women’s Cancers Program have contributed significantly to knowledge about genetic mutations linked to cancer — and to successful programs to assess cancer risk. Their focus on women’s cancers as a whole, spanning prevention, treatment, education and research, made national sponsorship of Walk for Hope particularly attractive to Farmers, she said.
“I think it’s great that City of Hope is picking up a whole new audience,” she added, “and hopefully making a difference for a whole lot more women.”