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04/08/2014 | Created by Darla Martin Tucker

When Janice Lopez, a loan account advisor at La Sierra University received a stage II breast cancer diagnosis last November, family members and friends quickly spread the word throughout her university and church communities. In less than 24 hours prayer chains had begun on her behalf.

La Sierra University staff members and student workers come out to support La Sierra loan account advisor Janice Lopez and her family (center) in her battle against breast cancer. (Photo by Natan Vigna)
The Lopez family, left to right, Jenna, Jordan, Janice and Juan. (Photo by Natan Vigna)

Meanwhile Janice took aim at the illness with chemotherapy treatments and got involved in the broader battle by searching online for fundraising walks to benefit breast cancer research and services. “The Pink Ribbon Place popped up,” she said.

The Pink Ribbon Place is a breast cancer resource center and program of the Riverside Community Health Foundation, a nonprofit 501c(3) corporation dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of the Riverside community. The foundation organizes the annual Pink on Parade breast cancer walk which will take place this year on May 17 in Riverside’s Fairmount Park. All proceeds from the walk will benefit services of the Pink Ribbon Place which offers support groups, counseling and wellness programs, and is working to bring diagnostic services to the center this year for the uninsured under age 40 who have breast health concerns.

Janice, about 25 family members including her parents, husband and children, along with friends and colleagues at La Sierra University will join the Pink on Parade walk in support of Janice and the fight against cancer. Despite weekly chemotherapy treatments which will continue through May, Janice says she feels strong and has minimal symptoms. “I feel up to it. For the most part I feel great and I want to give back. God’s given me this strength to push on and do something good with it.”

Janice is seeking Pink on Parade walk donations at the charity fundraising site Janice’s brother, Joey Ortiz, has promoted the walk on Facebook, and Rama Tampubolon, enrollment counselor at La Sierra created video clips promoting the walk through humorous interviews with Janice. The videos will be uploaded to Janice’s crowdrise page.

Janice, a Riverside resident, graduated from La Sierra Academy and took classes at La Sierra University and Riverside Community College. Employment at La Sierra is something of a tradition in her family. Janice has worked 15 years at the university and her mother, Carmen Ortiz, has worked at La Sierra 28 years in its food services department. Her father, Jose Ortiz, worked six years in La Sierra’s health services department and retired in 2007.

“I was so touched when I heard I was on a prayer chain. Amazed really,” says Janice. “I hear ‘We're praying for you’ daily. Departments have worship and pray for those in need. It feels good to hear. The La Sierra community is warm and caring. They are there for you when you need them. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”