When Sara Fisher, a cherished high school teacher and counselor was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985, there wasn’t a whole lot known about the disease.
Sara chose to take the most aggressive form of treatment because she thought it would provide her best chance to live. And she had a lot to live for — her husband, Roger; their twin sons, Mike and Mark; and her rewarding work with high school students.
“When Sara was diagnosed,” says her friend, Marilyn Karnopp,” she became angry at the idea that this terrible disease was happening to women and appalled at the number of women diagnosed.”
Before the many advocacy groups and foundations were formed, Sara was strongly directed toward advocating to find a cure. She pursued avenues for funding and awareness through a local state senator, and her efforts started to pay off as she saw more campaigning to promote breast cancer research.
Mark and Mike, who were 15 years old at the time, took their mother’s diagnosis pretty hard. The real difficulty came when the cancer metastasized to Sara’s brain in the spring of 1992.
Jane MacCloskey, a friend of Sara, had the initial concept for a fund that would assist other women with breast cancer. “As time went on and it appeared Sara’s cancer was terminal,” says MacCloskey, “I thought it would be wonderful to use her name and personality to begin helping other women in this same situation.”
MacCloskey connected with Peggy Carey, the former director of the St. Charles Cancer Program in Bend, Oregon. Together, they organized a group that included Sara’s friends, local doctors and St. Charles Foundation. The group established the Sara Fisher Breast Cancer Project —now known as Sara’s Project — and began brainstorming over ways to raise funds to assist women.
Sara continued to be active as long as she could. “She faced cancer with a phenomenal degree of courage,” says Roger, who is honored and humbled by what has transpired through Sara’s Project. “She was one of those people that walked into a room, and the room just lit up.”