All jazzed up to help fight cancer |

All jazzed up to help fight cancer

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Pat Williams, president of Carson Advocates for Cancer Care, talks about auction items for the 11th annual Winter Wine & All That Jazz fundraiser on Jan. 21.

You have cancer.

With three words, the paradigm changes, and the world most people are used to no longer resembles what they remember.

J.R. Baird knows the feeling of finding out you have cancer – and finding out you have beat it.

Now, Baird volunteers his time as a board member with the Carson Advocates for Cancer Care to help others going through the same ordeal. It is a common story in the organization, with the majority of the board members, including president Pat Williams, having battled the disease. Williams was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993.

“A lot of the people who come in here have had a personal experience with cancer. It’s either them or a family member or friend, and they know how expensive it can be, how cruddy the treatment can become,” Williams said. “It’s inspiring, the support they give us, and we appreciate it.”

Advocates provide financial support and education to residents of Northern Nevada fighting cancer by helping defray medical, pharmaceutical and transportation costs for patients and their families.

The organization is holding its 11th annual Winter Wine & All That Jazz fundraiser from 7-10 p.m. Jan. 21 in the Carson Nugget Ballroom.

The event features 16 wineries from Nevada and California, as well as a winery in New Jersey, and the music of the Sierra Swing band. Also included are wine judging, a silent auction and raffle, with prized ranging golf packages and photo sittings to a soccer ball signed by Brandy Chastain.

Tickets are $35 at the door or $30 in advance at Mike’s Pharmacy and the Adams House in Carson City and Dulce Vida in Minden.

Between 600 and 750 people attend the event on average, and the number continues to grow every year.

“In many ways, Carson City and Douglas County are small towns, and their support demonstrates that sense of community and of charity,” Williams said.

What makes the organization successful, according to Baird, is that all the money stays in Northern Nevada, and more than 95 percent goes directly to help patients and their families.

“We help with things you might not think of, like gas cards. When you are driving from Fallon that’s only 60 miles, but every day for 30 days, that starts to add up,” Williams said.

While he and Baird agree that the financial assistance is beneficial, the information and support the organization provides is equally important.

“The resources the Adams House provides is phenomenal. It’s just so encouraging. With my wife and I, they knew what we were going through and saw down the road. All we saw was a fog,” Baird said.

The Adams House, 990 N. Minnesota St., is home to the Cancer Services Resource Center run by Carson Tahoe Regional Medical Center.

Williams and Baird remember hardships they faced in battling for their lives.

“There’s something that people don’t realize about cancer until they get it,” Williams said. “It’s their first experience facing their own mortality, and for most people, it’s a violent experience.”

“Having cancer attached to your name is an absolutely terrifying experience. A lot of that fear comes from a lack of knowledge,” Baird said. “People are afraid to talk to cancer patients, afraid of what to say, and as a cancer patient, you already feel isolated.”

Williams said that every donation helps, no matter the amount.

“We had a man from Yerington with Hodgkin’s disease and needed help paying his bills. One day, he said that he wanted to make a donation. He gave me $1, and that is still the most meaningful donation for CACC because he had nothing and still wanted to help,” Williams said.

n Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.