Open Accessibility Menu

‘Viva la Cure’ Event to Benefit Cancer Patients in Louisiana

  • Category: Cancer, News
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Baton Rouge General

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Cancer Association of Louisiana (CALA) will host the inaugural “Viva la Cure: Night of Hope” event on November 11, sponsored by Baton Rouge General, in support of cancer patients across the state. CALA helps patients undergoing cancer treatment with a host of resources, including medication co-pays, nutritional supplements, prosthetics and supplies, transportation assistance, support with living expenses.

A night of food, fun and music, the event will be held at the LSU Lod Cook Alumni Center from 7-11 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to dress in Latin-inspired cocktail attire, whether that’s in a “Havana nights” theme, in bold florals or donning a fedora. Attendees will enjoy KARMA for the live entertainment and can check out a silent auction, also available online.

In 2019, CALA expanded its services to Baton Rouge and beyond. Founded in New Orleans, the group now provides support services statewide to patients in 23 parishes statewide. Many of the patients it serves have limited income or no health insurance, making the resources they receive vital to the continuation of their treatment.

“In our 60-year history, we’ve learned a lot about the needs of cancer patients and their families, and we’re proud to be able to use that knowledge to continue to grow,” said Tammy Swindle, CALA’s Executive Director. “Viva la Cure has been a successful event for many years in New Orleans, and we are excited to bring this celebration of life to Baton Rouge for the first time as we try to help even more people through their cancer journey.”

Michelle Burtch, business development director with CALA, said Viva La Cure was born out of a conversation with her dad, William, who at the time was in treatment for Merkel cell carcinoma.

“My dad met another cancer patient who was receiving financial assistance from CALA, and he wanted to find a way to do more,” Burtch said. “We had the idea to do a benefit that also honored the heritage of my mom, Mercy, who was from Havana, Cuba. Although my dad passed away before the first event, we honored his wish for an event that celebrated both survivors and the hope that those undergoing treatment feel, all while helping others.”

The event is co-chaired by Dr. Everett and Allyson Bonner. Dr. Bonner, a surgical breast oncologist at Baton Rouge General and a fixture in the Baton Rouge oncology space, considers it a privilege to walk with patients during their cancer journey. A breast cancer survivor, Allyson Bonner has paid it forward in helping others navigate their own journey. She can often be found in BRG’s Healing Boutique, putting together baskets for those who have been newly diagnosed.

“My wife’s diagnosis has humbled me and energized me to be an even bigger advocate for those going through their cancer journey,” said Dr. Bonner. “No matter the type or stage of cancer, hearing that diagnosis changes a family’s whole world, and having support and resources at every turn is a comfort even during the toughest times.”

Each year, CALA distributes more than $200,000 in financial assistance to Louisiana cancer patients, fills nearly 2,000 prescriptions and provides gas cards to more than 700 patients with transportation needs. In addition, the organization provides living assistance and medical supplies to hundreds of patients in their 23-parish region of southeastern Louisiana. Well-known for its Viva La Cure and Breastoration events, the organization has also financially helped over 220 women afford reconstructive breast procedures at 24 different surgical institutions in the state.

Tickets and sponsorships are available here. For more information, call 504-733-5539 or check out CALA on social media.

About Baton Rouge General Medical Center
Baton Rouge General Medical Center is the area’s first community hospital with over 600 licensed beds between three campuses. Baton Rouge General opened its doors in 1900, and has provided the Greater Baton Rouge community with high-quality healthcare for generations. An accredited teaching hospital since 1991, Baton Rouge General is affiliated with several medical school programs, and offers other medical education programs, including a School of Nursing, School of Radiologic Technology, Family Medicine Residency Program, Internal Medicine Residency Program, and Sports Medicine Fellowship Program. For more information, visit, find us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter @BRGeneraland Instagram@batonrougegeneral.