Hoag Family Cancer Institute
Our Stories


In the Fight Together

After losing one of her best friends to cancer and learning of her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis, Mary Dill felt like cancer was everywhere. She hated feeling helpless.

“We needed to do something,” she said.

Her son, Austin, is a member of the boys’ volleyball team at Trabuco Hills High School. They were approaching their biggest game of the year against their rivals, El Toro High School. Mary, the team and parents decided to make it a cancer awareness event. As word spread, Mary learned one of the volleyball moms, Jennifer Haynes, was fighting GBM brain cancer.

“This volleyball family takes care of each other,” she said. “We’re in this fight together.”

A Night to Remember

Mary and her fellow volleyball parents organized a bake sale and accepted donations for buttons, pencils and wristbands in all the colors that represent different cancers. And then it hit her. Mary realized the date of the big game was the first anniversary of her best friend’s passing from pancreatic cancer. It was a great way to honor her memory.

The night of the game, they raised more than $1,600 for Hoag Family Cancer Institute. The El Toro team made a significant contribution to that gift.

“It was an awesome night,” she said. “This was the first annual event.”

A Hoag Family

Thankfully, Mary’s mother, Mary “Molly” Hewett, formerly the assistant vice president of nursing administration at Hoag, has completed her cancer treatment.

“We’re a Hoag family,” Mary said proudly. She was born at Hoag, and her two sons are also Hoag alumni.

For more information on making a gift to the Hoag Family Cancer Institute, please contact Gwen Ritter, executive director of development, at (949) 764-7209 or Gwen.Ritter@hoag.org.

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