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American Cancer Society to illuminate Portland’s Tilikum Bridge with Luminaria Ceremony Saturday night

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life Portland Luminaria Ceremony will start at OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Saturday and continue over Tilikum Crossing.

PORTLAND, Ore. — In their mission to end cancer as we know it, the American Cancer Society will light up the Tilikum Bridge in Portland Saturday as part of their Relay for Life fundraiser.

Cancer remains the second most common cause of death among Americans, lonely after heart disease. The Luminaria Ceremony is a chance to honor every life touched by the disease.

As president of the Multnomah Medical Clinic, Brent Jaffe has been supporting the American Cancer Society for years.  

“I started raising money to kill cancer a long time ago before I knew anybody close to me that was diagnosed. It just seemed to make sense,” Jaffe said.  

That changed about four years ago when cancer came crashing into his life. His best friend, Dave, was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Then, a couple of years later, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

“I was diagnosed right around the last handful of months that Dave was going to be around,” Jaffe said.

Fighting his own diagnosis of prostate cancer as he lost his friend. It’s tough to talk about, but he does it, hoping others will get proactive about cancer screenings.

“If more people talk about it, maybe Dave would have gone to the doctor sooner,” he said.  

In 2023, roughly 1.9 million new cancer cases and 609,820 deaths from cancer are expected to happen in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. Oregon is expected to have more than 26,000 new cancer cases and 8,400 deaths.

“The American Cancer Society really has a mission to end cancer as we know it for everyone and it’s to make sure everyone has an opportunity to prevent, detect and survive cancer,” American Cancer Society Associate Director of Development Brenda MacRoberts said.

This past Sunday, the American Cancer Society Relay for Life Portland happened around the baseball diamond in partnership with the Portland Pickles. Jaffe threw out the first pitch.

For the first time, the American Cancer Society is bringing the Luminaria Ceremony to the Tilikum Crossing on Saturday, July 29.

It starts at 9:15 p.m. in front of the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute on Moody Avenue. The Luminaria lit path will then lead to the Tilikum Bridge.

The relay and luminaria were connected for years, but this year they decided to spread them out into separate events.

“The luminaria, oh my gosh. How cool is that going to be? I mean, the Tilikum crossing itself, what a marvel?” Jaffe said.

“It’s about a community coming together,” MacRoberts said. "It really is supposed to be a moment of hope and to celebrate perseverance as well."

Each luminaria bag is a way to celebrate survivors, honor those we’ve lost, and fight for a future without cancer.

“It’s going to be a really special event that people are going to be able to pay a very special tribute to those people that are important to them,” Jaffe said.

For more information or to donate a luminaria bag in the name of yourself or a loved one visit the American Cancer Society website. 

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