Northwestern Medicine

Daughter Follows in Mother's Footsteps at Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation

Northwestern Memorial Hospital May 08, 2012

Mother-daughter pairs on board of directors carry on Lynn’s legacy

CHICAGO, IL – As a young girl, Stephanie Lieber remembers watching her mother and her friends sitting around their dining room table discussing how they could do something to honor their friend Lynn Sage who had recently died as a result of breast cancer. The women were not doctors or researchers, they were just 18 friends who were devastated that something so terrible could affect a young mother like Lynn; and they were determined to make a difference.

What started as a small but dedicated group, has since transformed into a movement. The group formally launched what was originally called the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Fund in 1985. Since then, Lynn’s memory has been honored every day as her friends continue to fight with the perseverance that she showed during the six years following her diagnosis in 1979. The original group of 18 has evolved into 106 board members and later became the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation (LSCRF). The group has raised more than $25 million for breast cancer research since its inception.

“The tenacity and commitment that my mother and her friends showed taught me that no mountain is too high and that if you put your mind to something, you can make a difference,” said Lieber. “They were my role models growing up and I am proud to now be serving their mission as chair of the board of directors of the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation. We work every day to stand at the forefront of the breast cancer battle with the life and memory of Lynn as a powerful guide.”

LSCRF partners with Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University to support innovative contributions to the understanding, research and treatment of breast cancer. Money raised supports grants that provide seed funding for breast cancer researchers to test theories, with the ultimate goal of finding a cure for breast cancer and improving care. LSCRF also supports fellowships designed to develop leaders in the field of clinical and basic breast cancer research.

“Breast cancer affects mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. If you look around the room at our group, that is who you will see,” said Lieber. “There are eight mother-daughter pairs on our board of directors, most of whom, like me, were connected to this cause from the beginning. The majority of the women on our board have either had breast cancer themselves or have had a first degree relative with breast cancer. We are personally tied to this cause and we are fighting to make a difference.”

LSCRF hosts four annual fundraising events, including Be My Valentine in February, a golf outing in June, the famed Summer Soiree in July and an annual fall benefit each October. The group also started Light the Way to Find a Cure, a campaign that turns Chicago’s skyline and landscapes pink each October to remind women about the importance of early detection and to offer comfort and support to survivors and all those affected by breast cancer. More than 140 buildings participate, ranging from illuminated rooftops to pink flags and flowerbeds. Each of the fundraising events helps LSCRF fulfill its mission of furthering clinical innovation and increasing awareness and research for breast cancer.

In 2008, Charles Clevenger, MD, PhD, a pathologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and professor of pathology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, received a grant to study how hormones work in breast cancer cells. The discoveries made on the basis of this LSCRF-funded research enabled him to translate his research to breast cancer patients.

“I can say first hand that the support of the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation makes a difference,” said Clevenger. “Without their grant, it would have been difficult to initiate this research, which has now received additional funding from national agencies and has entered a phase I trial in breast cancer patients.”

“What started as a small group of friends trying to make an impact has grown into something big that has touched the lives of many women,” said Lieber. “We do this for Lynn, for one another, and for all of the mothers and daughters in the world,” added Lieber. “We are committed to supporting research that gets us closer to finding a cure for breast cancer and Lynn would be proud that so many people have come together to support this mission, which all began with her.”

Learn more about the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation

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