Elizabeth Hill Sperling’s Story
When Elizabeth Sperling was dying from ovarian cancer in January 2000, she asked her friend Sue Leahy to set up her memorial fund with The Lynne Cohen Foundation for Ovarian Cancer Research. She liked the Foundation’s research platform, particularly their funding of an early detection test. Presently, there is no way to detect ovarian cancer in its early stages. Elizabeth knew that any hope of changing this disease from deadly to curable lay in early detection.
When Elizabeth was just seven years old, her mother died from breast cancer. Thirty-eight years later, at the age of forty-five, Elizabeth died from ovarian cancer. Often when multi-generational family members have these cancers, they carry a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, or there may be other genes involved.
Because Elizabeth had an increased risk for breast and/or ovarian cancer, early detection might have saved her life. Many of the female family members of women diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer have a high or increased risk for these diseases. The Lynne Cohen Preventive Care Clinics opened at USC/Norris Comprehensive Center in Los Angeles and NYU Medical Center in New York for this reason. Keeping in mind what Elizabeth would have wanted, all the funds raised for The Elizabeth Hill Sperling Memorial Fund have been donated to the Lynne Cohen Preventive Care Clinics at NYU and Norris Cancer Center, and also to research for a novel therapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.