Tequilas Burbank and Ashley Erikson to Host Cancer Awareness Fundraiser Event

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Patricia Franco Rivera and Ashley Erikson partner up to support cancer awareness.

Tequilas Burbank has partnered with community event organizer and myBurbank writer, Ashley Erikson, to coordinate a Cancer Awareness Fundraiser Dinner on October 12th.  The event will be a non-host dinner where 20% of the proceeds will be donated to the Center for Clinical Genetics and Genomics at the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center in Burbank.

Burbank Chamber
Official Cancer Awareness Dinner Event flyer created by Ashley Erikson

The event will be begin at 6:00pm and include guests speakers addressing cancer detection and prevention topics.  Aida Akopyan, a genetic counselor from the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center will provide insightful information on genetic testing options and resources while Ashley Erikson will be sharing her journey through preventative surgeries and gene mutation diagnosis. 

“Our hope is that our guests leave our event feeling loved, supported, hopeful and empowered,” said owner, Patricia Franco Rivera. “We want our guests to know there are resources and organizations that can help them navigate the medical system. We want our guests to be proactive.” Franco’s ultimate take away for the event is honor, hope, inspiration and encouragement.

Patricia and Carlos Rivera have held an annual ovarian cancer event off and on for the past seven years to commemorate Patricia’s mother and sister who both suffered from ovarian and cervical cancer, and her father who also passed from cancer. This year the event will focus on acknowledging all cancers in an effort to support the community and their customers who have lost someone they love to cancer or who is still battling cancer. “Further, we decided we wanted to partner with Ashley Erikson because her personal story encompasses the message we want to deliver: inspire, encourage and provide hope to others,” added Patricia.

Patricia Franco Rivera with her loved ones photos at Tequilas Burbank.

Patrica and Ashley became friends while working on Magnolia Park events through the association and were bonded together through there family stories of cancer. “That’s why I felt Ashley was the perfect person to partner with. We both share love for the community,” said Patricia.  Ashley found out she had the BRCA 2 gene mutation after her aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 28.  After years of preventative testing and screening, she made the proactive decision to have a bilateral mastectomy surgery performed to reduce her chances of breast cancer from 82% to 6%. Ashley will be sharing her story at the dinner and what led up to making one of the biggest decisions of her life.

Starting today and leading up to the event day of October 12th, Tequilas Burbank has set up colored curtains in their back patio to represent the different colors of cancer awareness ribbons.  They are inviting the community to honor their loved ones affected by cancer by visiting Tequilas and pinning a photo on the color curtain that correlates with the cancer awareness ribbon color.  They are encouraging guests to bring a 5×7 photo or smaller and pin their picture during business hours of 11:30am-9:00pm.

Curtains are hung at Tequilas Burbank for the community to come pin photos of their loved ones affected by cancer.

Patricia’s personal journey has inspired her to bring this event to the community every year due to her family’s cancer history and especially inspired by her little sister, Julie Franco. In March of 2021 she lost her sister, Julie, to ovarian and cervical cancer, the same cancer that their mother passed from. “It’s a heart wrenching experience,” said Franco, about watching her sister undergo surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. Julie’s surgery was at the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center and went into remission but unfortunately the cancer returned three years later. At that time, Patricia’s other sister, Yolanda, was also diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and passed shortly after on Christmas day. 

“The aftermath of losing a loved feels like its everlasting. Sometimes the questions are endless: Why did my family members die of cancer? Could I have done something differently that would have helped them?” said Rivera. “The guilt of being somewhat healthy can quickly become a detriment to one’s health.” 

Patricia Franco Rivera pinning a photo on the cancer awareness curtains at Tequilas Burbank.

The cancer awareness dinner fundraiser is not only a way to raise money, but a way that Franco can encourage her customers to be proactive by early detection and testings. “We should not allow cancer to take another life if it can be prevented by being proactive. One’s life is worth the effort. We owe it our loved ones,” added Franco.

“Genetics is the first step in prevention. In order to really take the most appropriate measures to try to detect cancer early, or prevent it all together, we have to start with understanding what our actual risk is for any given type of cancer. Then, we can best target things like cancer screening, lifestyle changes, medication use, and even surgical interventions to that part of the body and that level of risk,” said Providence Genetics Counselor Kim Childers. “It is through genetic testing that we get a bit of a glimpse into our unique risk level and can become empowered to make choices to maximize health. Genetic testing for inherited cancer risk is becoming more and more available each year –  with broadened guidelines on who it is recommended for, increased accessibility of testing, and a continued decrease in the cost of testing.”

Back patio at Tequilas Burbank where the Cancer Awareness Dinner Event will be held. Photo by Ashley Erikson.

If you are interested in learning more about cancer prevention and detection or would like to come out for the event to support a loved one, you can reserve your table by texting 818-516-9250 before October 10th.  Reservations are required to attend the event.  The Riveras are also encouraging guests to dress up in the color matching the cancer awareness ribbon they are honoring at the dinner.

If you can’t attend the event but still want to support the center you can visit Tequilas anytime on October 12th from 11:30am-9:00pm and Tequilas will donate 20% to benefit the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center. You can also donate directly by going to https://bit.ly/3UqA0OW and choosing the “Genetics Program – Disney Family Cancer Center” from the drop down menu.