Published on June 18, 2019

Show will go on for annual cancer services fundraiser

Soiree Honorees

An autumn fundraiser for cancer causes has a new name, a new mission and new guests of honor this year.

Organized by a team of local volunteers, Soiree on the Bay will benefit Cape Cod Healthcare Cancer Services, with the proceeds funding nutrition, transportation and lodging needs for cancer patients. The event was formerly known as the Compass of Hope Gala and raised funds for the American Cancer Society and some local services.

“The event has evolved over the years, and we’re delighted that all of the proceeds will stay local and help our Cape Cod neighbors,” said Sharon Kennedy, a member of the Soiree’s organizing committee.

“We look forward to partnering with the community to ensure that people who are stricken with this deadly disease get the care they need and deserve,” said CCHC President and CEO Michael Lauf.

This year’s Soiree on the Bay will be held Saturday, Oct. 5 at the Oyster Harbors Club in Osterville. Entertainment will be provided by local rockabilly/soul band Sarah Swain & the Oh Boys.

The Soiree on the Bay committee picked up where the American Cancer Society left off. They recognized the value of keeping the fundraiser going and elected to organize and run the event on their own. They renamed the event Soiree on the Bay.

Committee Members

Committee members include: Alice O’Neill, Phyllis Connelly, Barbara Dunn, Susan Ellis, Carmen Luga-Del, Sharon Kennedy, Melissa Marchand, Kathryn Norton and Diane Salomone.

“The committee members’ generosity, dedication and service to see that cancer patients on the Cape have much-needed services is commendable and deeply touching,” said Lauf. “We know they will do an outstanding job to ensure that this year’s Soiree on the Bay is the best yet.”

2019 Honorees

At a recent event to introduce this year’s honorees, committee members, hospital administrators and past honorees gathered at Alberto’s Restaurant and Cancer survivors Melissa Allen and Rudy Betancourt were chosen for the honor and attended with family members.

Allen was nominated by Molly Sullivan, MD, and oncology nurse Chris Davenport.

In the spring of 2018, she was diagnosed with rectosigmoid colon cancer and later last year a PET scan revealed a breast tumor. She has undergone surgery, hormone therapy and radiation therapy.

“Melissa walked this complicated path with calm courage and grace,” Dr. Sullivan and Davenport wrote in the nomination letter. “She had a smile on her face throughout her ordeal and never questioned why she had been dealt a double cancer diagnosis.

“In the midst of her treatments, she volunteered to share in the planning sessions for a new cancer center at the hospital, offering a unique and valuable patient’s view of services.”

Betancourt was nominated by oncology nurse Emily Gomes.

A nurse at Cape Cod Hospital for 28 years, he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He was treated with two different chemotherapy regimens and, when his disease did not respond, he underwent successful CAR-T therapy, a form of immunotherapy.

“During the time of his treatment, Rudy’s brother, to whom he is very close, was diagnosed with a glioblastoma,” wrote Gomes. “This added to Rudy’s challenge, but he approached his fight with a positive, courageous attitude that was inspirational for the staff and his fellow patients.

“When he recovered from lymphoma, Rudy wanted to give back to the hospital because of the support he had received during treatment. He now volunteers at Cape Cod Hospital for the transport team and the pediatric unit – the last unit in which he worked prior to his retirement.”

Both Allen and Betancourt had advice for future cancer patients.

“Know that you’re not alone,” said Allen. “When you walk into any part of the cancer center, there are people ready to support you.”

Betancourt said it all comes down to three words: “Trust. Faith. Positivity.”

Past honorees attending the gathering included medical honorees David Lovett, MD; Molly Sullivan, MD, and Chris Davenport, RN, and community honorees Patricia Golemme, James McEvoy, Alice O’Neill and the Pendergast family.

For more information about Soiree on the Bay, contact the Cape Cod Healthcare Foundation at 508-862-5653 or giving@capecodhealth.org.

Alice Dancing

Betancourt and Allen were also recognized on June 9 at the ninth annual Cancer Survivors Day Celebration. The luncheon event included performances by two 2017 Dancing with the Docs competitors, Cape Cod Healthcare radiation oncologist, Jeffrey Martin, MD, and Cape Cod Hospital medical oncologist/hematologist, Jennifer Crook, MD.

Representing survivors for the first time in the dancing showcase was Soiree on the Bay Committee member and community activist Alice O’Neill.

Dr. Crook said competing in Dancing With the Docs, a fundraiser for Cape Wellness Collaborative, had taken her far outside her comfort zone. “Our patients are very brave every day,” she said. “I told myself, if they can do that, I can do this.”

Sarah Brassard, author of “Inside: A Guide to The Resources Within,” spoke to the roomful of survivors and their guests about self-care. “Meeting the challenge [of cancer] will demand that you turn to your pain and face it head on,” she said. “Miracles, or what seem like miracles, happen every day.”