Sunflower Sales Benefit Cancer Center at St. Anthony

It is said that in extended dark times, sunflowers turn to each other for light to survive.

posted on 8/11/2021 in Features

sunflowerOn August 5th, Mark Nepple and Deb Nepple presented a donation of $8,500 toward the new St. Anthony Regional Cancer Center. The funds were raised during a sale of sunflowers from the Mark and Tami Nepple acreage. Mark and Tami grow sunflowers as a pollination source for their beehives. Their story that set up the idea of selling sunflowers began 20 years ago.

In June of 2001, Deb was diagnosed with breast cancer after feeling a lump. After a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, she went into remission. Two years later, breast cancer was found on the opposite side. She had another lumpectomy and radiation and went into remission again. Since then, one of her sisters has also been diagnosed with breast cancer.

In the spring of 2003, Deb’s husband, Gene, was diagnosed with melanoma after removal of a suspicious looking mole. No additional treatment was needed at that time. In January of 2019, Gene was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He endured many rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Scans determined the cancer had spread to his liver; therefore, surgery was not an option.

In January of 2020, Deb and Gene’s daughter, Sheryl, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Neither Deb nor Sheryl carry any of the known breast cancer genes. Sheryl had chemo, a double mastectomy and radiation and is currently in remission.

In June of 2020, it was decided that Gene needed hospice care. He courageously fought his battle with pancreatic cancer until September 9, 2020 when he passed away surrounded by his family.

In June of 2021, Deb found out that she had breast cancer again. She opted to have a double mastectomy and will begin radiation treatment under Dr. Randal Hess at the St. Anthony Regional Cancer Center.

It is said that in extended dark times, sunflowers turn to each other for light to survive. Through all of these experiences with cancer over the past 20 years, the Nepple family could not have gotten through these incredibly tough times had it not been for the support provided by their family and friends. Through this fundraiser, the Nepples believed they would continue to share their light and give all those fighting cancer hope.

Shown in the photo accepting the check from left are Lori Pietig, Cancer Center Director, Deb Nepple, Mark Nepple, and Trish Roberts, Development Director.

Sunflower Donation


  1. cancer center
  2. donation

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