The ESSCO-MGH Breast Cancer Research Fund
The ESSCO-MGH Breast Cancer Research Fund was established in 1994 by my father, Albert Cohen, shortly after my then-33-year-old sister, Lynn, was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, we were all stunned and frightened. She was the tofu-eating, veggie-steaming sister who exercised daily, and couldn’t have been healthier.
While my mother, sister and I rallied around Lynn, taking turns caring for my nephew and going to chemotherapy and radiation appointments with her, my father got to work finding a cure. He found promising research at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston and decided it represented the best chance for a cure in our lifetime. I say “our” because my father wasn’t so concerned about a cure during his lifetime, but he was beside himself at the thought that a cure might not be found in ours.
My father, then CEO of Electronic Space Systems Corporation (ESSCO), met with researchers and physicians at the MGH, and learned that promising research is often not funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), because of its risky and unproven nature. However, it is precisely this innovative research that may eventually reveal a cure, if given the opportunity to flourish. So my father established the ESSCO-MGH Breast Cancer Research fund as an endowment fund for this type of research, and initialized it with $25,000. He had one caveat: every single penny raised had to go directly to breast cancer research at the MGH. No money could be used for administrative purposes. To that end, our small band of all-volunteer worker bees organizes an annual benefit in October that consistently raises over $100,000. And, true to my father’s pledge, every single penny goes directly to breast cancer research at the MGH.
Today, our fund has grown to $3.7 million and our small little organization has grown into a hard-working committee of 24 active, dedicated and wonderfully warm members who are committed to curing breast cancer in our lifetime. We support vital and very promising breast cancer research under the direction of the phenomenal Dr. Kenneth K. Tanabe, Chief of Surgical Oncology at the MGH. We are funding innovative microchip technology to capture extremely rare circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in cancer patients. In the future, when the CTC chip becomes clinically available, a blood sample will be enough to detect cancer cells long before a tumor recurs! The work is so promising, it was reported in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (July 2, 2008). But our research funding doesn’t stop there. All of the work we fund has not only garnered national attention and brought to light research that was previously considered too “risky” for the likes of NIH, but is now receiving NIH grants as well as funds from much larger charitable organizations.
What’s more, my sister is alive and well and celebrating 19 cancer-free years!
Sadly, my father passed away on November 25, 2006, and did not live to see a cure for breast cancer. Therefore, it’s up to us to carry on his legacy making his pledge our goal. In 2008, the ESSCO-MGH Breast Cancer Research Fund was honored as one of the one hundred extraordinary people and groups who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to cancer care and research. This year, one of our long-time supporters and active committee members, Ellen Slater, will be honored as one of the one hundred for her efforts on behalf of our fund. Although my father could not be with us to witness these fabulous tributes, we are overwhelmingly proud to be able to share this honor with such a remarkable group of individuals and organizations.
We hope that when you weigh your charitable contribution dollars, you will consider funding the ESSCO-MGH Breast Cancer Research Fund and putting your hard-earned dollars to work for a cure. We are always eager to talk with individuals and organizations interested in working with us to raise funds on behalf of the fund.
Here are some examples of other fundraising activities held on our behalf:
T-shirts by Didi Fisher Weinreb netting over $3,000 for the fund, the Bass River Tennis Club (donating over $9,000 through their annual Ladies’ Night Out tennis tournament), The Meadow Brook Golf Club (total donation over $5,000 from two golf tournaments), Wine Tasting by Colonial Spirits of Stow, MA (total donation over 7 years $15,500) Holiday Shopping Nights by Lotti Ta-Dah of Hudson, MA, (total donation over three years $7,000) Golf Tournament by the Boston Estate Planning Council & Society of Financial Service Professionals (total donated over three years $6,200), Sharon Country Club Golf Tournament (total raised over $15,000 from three golf tournaments), Friends of Reading Tennis (over $10,000 from three tennis touranments), Bird Houses for Breast Cancer created and sold by my sons (total donation over four years $785) Dress Down Day at Ernst & Young (total donated over nine years $11,800).
You can support this vital research too. Simply click the link below, and donate directly to our fund via the Massachusetts General Hospital donor site, or download the brochure below and send it as noted below. For additional information, please contact Missy Cohen-Fyffe at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 603-635-9568.
The ESSCO-MGH Breast Cancer Research Fund