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Parkrose Heights brain tumor survivor walks for a cure


Parkrose Heights resident and brain tumor survivor Dawn Evans, kneeling in front, poses at the Portland Brain Tumor Walk last month with her team, Wilson’s Warriors, comprised of colleagues from work.
Parkrose Heights resident Dawn Evans, a brain tumor survivor, led a team made up of co-workers at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP and friends at the National Brain Tumor Society Portland Brain Tumor Walk last month to raise awareness of the problem and funds for research.

She has been an enthusiastic participant and committee member since its Portland inception in 2006.

When Dawn was seven, she started experiencing seizures. A small spot on her brain, originally thought to be nothing but a ‘birthmark on the brain,’ showed up in a scan. At age 14, she had a series of headaches. A brain scan showed the small spot had grown significantly larger.

In 1980, Dawn was the youngest person to that date to undergo surgery for a colloid cyst, which is typically an asymptomatic tumor. Her neurosurgeon, Dr. Charles Wilson, was a founder of the field of neuro-oncology, specializing in the treatment of brain tumors. At the time of Dawn’s surgery, colloid cysts were rarely operated on and often discovered post-mortem.

“At 14 years old, the thing that concerned me the most about my brain surgery was beginning my freshman year of high school with a shaved head,” recalled Evans. “In retrospect, that seems so insignificant and every year when I participate in the Brain Tumor Walk, I am reminded how lucky I am to have had a benign tumor that was discovered in time.”

Post-surgery, Dawn began high school. Although she started a few months late and was suffering from significant memory loss, Dawn persevered and graduated from both high school and college with honors and nearly a 4.0 grade point average.

Today, despite a few memory issues, Dawn is doing very well. She feels she is one of the lucky ones and appreciates every day. “I remember taking a walk with my mother and sister shortly after returning to Oregon from my brain surgery,” she said, “I told my mother that I was seeing small things I had never noticed before, particularly in nature. To this day, I have not forgotten not to let the ‘small stuff’ take over and to make a decision to begin each and every day with a positive happy attitude.”

Evans’ Brain Tumor Walk team, Wilson’s Warriors, is named to honor her childhood surgeon. Her team is comprised of colleagues at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in recognition of Orrick’s 150th anniversary. Her mission is to help in the effort to fund research, and ultimately, a cure.

“I feel infinitely fortunate to work for a law firm whose mission statement includes the necessity and importance of community involvement and a responsibility to give back.” Evans said. “Orrick has been extremely supportive of the National Brain Tumor Society fundraising efforts here in Portland. The people with whom I work directly and throughout the firm are the main reason I love my work.”

Brain Tumors in Oregon
Brain tumors affect thousands of families in Oregon. Not only are 700,000 Americans currently living with a brain tumor, more than 69,000 are diagnosed annually, including 4,300 children. There is no cure, and there has been little progress finding new treatments over the last two decades. As patients, survivors or caregivers, Portland residents like Evans comprise a community of survival and hope. “Every year for the past eight years, through my participation in the Brain Tumor Walk—particularly when I paint young children’s faces at the walk—I am reminded how very lucky I am and how urgent the cause of finding better tools for diagnosis, better treatments and hopefully one day a cure,” Evans said. “So much more brain tumor research needs to be done; proportionate to other diseases that are similarly devastating and life-threatening, brain tumor research receives much less funding.”

The National Brain Tumor Society is the largest nonprofit organization dedicated to the brain tumor community in the United States. To find out how you can be involved with the National Brain Tumor Society, visit

To send a gift to Wilson’s Warriors, visit their team page at
Jessica D’Amico is marketing and communications manager for the National Brain Tumor Society
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