Lynne Cohen, 1944 – 1998
Lynne Cohen was a beautiful and energetic southern California mom who was dedicated to her four children. She volunteered at their schools, went to all their soccer games and took the time to get to know their friends. When Lynne was 48, she experienced some irregular spotting and immediately called her gynecologist. He set up an appointment for her as soon as possible. During the exam he felt a palpable mass on one of her ovaries and scheduled her for exploratory surgery the following morning. When Lynne's husband awakened her in the recovery room, he told her that she had to have a total hysterectomy. Lynne had metastasized ovarian cancer.
Throughout her five-year illness, Lynne insisted that life go on as planned for her family. While she supported her four children as they pursued their goals, she also confronted the deadly new challenge in her life and studied the resources that were available. Learning about a disease is a harrowing journey for anyone diagnosed with cancer; for Lynne, it resulted in dismay. She saw that there was a distinct lack of funding for research aimed specifically at her disease. With her usual determination, she set out on a mission to raise funds and awareness for ovarian cancer research. She did this even as it became clear that she was losing her own battle.
Shortly after their mother's death in 1998, Lynne’s children (ages 15 – 27) created the Lynne Cohen Foundation for Ovarian Cancer Research. During her five relentless years of treatment, she never gave up, she never lost her will to push forward, and she never lost her desire to help others. The Foundation strives to honor this tremendous legacy by pursuing what Lynne Cohen clearly saw while she was alive: which is that early detection and prevention of ovarian cancer can save many more lives. If Lynne’s disease had been caught during Stage 1, her chance of surviving would have been so much greater. By funding top researchers and creating prevention clinics, the Lynne Cohen Foundation seeks to save women who are fighting the disease, or who may be at high risk for cancer. Research has shown that the main hereditary breast cancer syndromes—caused by mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes—are also associated with an increased risk for ovarian cancer. Because of this inextricable link, the Lynne Cohen Foundation supports collaborative, multi-institutional research focused on the prevention and early detection of both ovarian and breast cancer. Identifying high-risk women makes it possible to screen for the disease and to take preventive action.
Along with Lynne’s oncologist, Dr. Franco Muggia, her children assembled a Medical Advisory Board, a Board of Advisors, and a Founders’ Circle, entrusting the Board of Directors’ responsibilities to themselves. With these pieces in place, the Foundation quickly took shape. Support from family, friends and people all over the country came pouring in. LCF had got its start. Since then, the Foundation has created, funded and launched:
- Lynne Cohen Foundation & Caring Together Project for Women with Increased Risk for Cancer at NYU Langone Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital Center
- The Lynne Cohen Preventive Care Clinic for Women’s Cancers at USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, Los Angeles
- The Lynne Cohen High Risk Screening and Prevention Project for Ovarian and Breast Cancer at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston (Study closed to new patients. Follow-up patients only.)
- The Lynne Cohen and Norma Livingston Preventive Care Program for Women's Cancers at University of Alabama, Birmingham
The Lynne Cohen Foundation has advanced and grown for a simple reason: the preventive care clinics and educational programs we support make a difference. They give women who are at a increased risk for ovarian and breast cancer and women fighting these diseases a better chance at survival. The underlying principles of the Foundation are:
Prevention Choices Save Lives, and
Ovarian and Breast Cancers are Treatable Diseases When Found in Early Stages
The Lynne Cohen Foundation will always be a testament to the will and legacy of the woman who lost her hard fought battle with ovarian cancer. Lynne was an extraordinary woman who never tired from giving back to those around her and using her own resources to make other peoples’ lives better. That is what we aim to do everyday. Our sincerest thanks to those who support our mission and our fight against this terrible, deadly disease.