Saturday, September 30, 2023 at the Finley Center

Oncology Professionals Gratitude Day logo

These are some of the highlights from our second annual Oncology Professionals Gratitude Day which was held September 30, 2023 at the Finley Center in Santa Rosa.

North Bay Cancer Alliance organizes this event to strengthen the bonds within the oncology community — bringing together organizations large and small across the entire North Bay Area.

NBCA is a unique bridge connecting cancer centers, treatment facilities and cancer agencies in our area. We’re bringing together hard-working oncology professionals for a few hours of fun, laughter and appreciation.

Social workers, managers, patient navigators, receptionists, schedulers, nurses and everyone working in oncology is invited. The day is an opportunity to renew and strengthen the bonds of our oncology community, hear from great speakers, meet your colleagues, and have some fun.

2023 Recap

A surprise visitor welcomed attendees. Olympian and World Champion skater Scott Hamilton spoke to the audience via video to acknowledge the extraordinary work done by the local oncology community.

Play Video about Scott Hamilton speaks to Oncology Professionals Day, 2023

“One of my favorite moments of the day,” says NBCA Executive Director, Kent Corley, “was the awarding of our Oncology Professional of the Year to Virginia Madjlessi.”

Oncology Professional of the year Virginia Madjlessi

Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues and friends:

We are here today to say thank you to all of you who represent an unrivaled cadre of professionals in a field of healthcare that is ever-changing, ever-challenging and requires constant empathy and sensitivity to the patients and families affected.

Now we recognize and celebrate an individual who has displayed exceptional dedication and compassion in patient relations in the field of oncology within the wonderful region of the North Bay in Northern California.

Cancer, a formidable adversary, affects countless lives, and its impact resonates deeply within our communities. It is through the unwavering commitment of oncology professionals that we continue to make strides in the battle against this relentless disease. This award serves as a symbol of our appreciation for those who have chosen the path of caring for cancer patients and making a positive difference in their lives.

Join us as we shine a spotlight on an outstanding individual who embodies the spirit of service, providing solace, support, and hope to those on their cancer journey. In a region known for its natural beauty, our 2023 Oncology Professional of the Year stands as a beacon of light, illuminating the lives of cancer patients and their families in the North Bay.

Join me in honoring this remarkable individual. Together, let us pay tribute to her and to you who are the heroes who tirelessly work to improve the lives of those affected by cancer, as we present the 2023 Oncology Professional of the Year Award.

This year’s award goes to Virginia Madjlessi.

Lunch prepared by The Ceres Project

The Ceres Project

The Ceres Project provides beautiful, delicious and medically tailored meals for those facing a serious illness like cancer.

2023 Speakers

Jonah Paquette


Jonah Paquette, PsyD

Paquette specializes in the science of well-being and emotional fitness. He shared practical skills for well-being and urged us to practice new methods of thinking that can positively change our professional and personal lives.

More info at

Nikki Bullock

Nicole Bullock, LCSW
Marin Health Palliative Care Program

Nikki Bullock, LCSW, from Marin Health, shared studies about the use of psilocybin that have shown promise as therapies for treatment-resistant depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The studies are showing that this treatment appears to work by encouraging the growth of new connections between neurons in the brain.


Anne-Marie Allen
Deep Breath Healing Gardens

Illustrating what one person can do when she sets her mind to it, Anne-Marie Allen spoke about how her desire to improve the life of a friend diagnosed with cancer has led to Deep Breath Healing Gardens, now in its third year.

More info at

Dr. Sara Keck

Sara Keck, MD
Providence Medical Group

Dr. Sara Keck closed the day by reminding us of the reason we were there. She encouraged the audience to care for themselves, and have self-compassion. Dr. Keck led us through a guided practice called Compassion with Equanimity for Caregivers. She reminded us to take time, for even a few quiet moments, to ground ourselves as we move through our days as caregivers.

An art exhibit by cancer survivors

“Cancer forever changed my life, but through art I have found peace. Art has helped me to deal with grief, loss and to find courage to try new things that bring peace, as I rise up and work to rebuild my life. This piece is a reminder of that for myself and many others. I was proud to have won first place in the fair last year with it.”

—Lorri P. participant in Art from the Heart and multiple cancer survivor

Drawing of Round Barn by Lorri P.

The Art from the Heart team of Holly Mead, Lorri Pimentel and Sharon Doughty displayed artwork by cancer patients.

Art from the Heart is a free art therapy program for cancer survivors. More information is at NBCA’s list of support groups.

Thank you to our sponsors & community partners

Summit State Bank logo
Avelo Airlines logo
Bennett Valley Golf Course logo
Buff logo
Logo for Flamingo Resort, Santa Rosa
Landmark Vineyards logo
Monticello Vineyards logo
Oliver's Logo
Session Climbing logo
Trione Vineyards and Winery stacked logo