Mary Ainilian’s Story

In February 2000, Mary complained of constipation and bloating. After an exam by her family doctor and gynecologist, she was diagnosed with a large fibroma tumor. Thinking everything would be fine, Mary underwent a full hysterectomy as recommended in April; two days later she was told she had ovarian cancer. After another immediate surgery for cancer staging and debulking, Mary was diagnosed with Stage IIIC ovarian cancer.

Over the next five years Mary had three major surgeries and switched from one treatment to another, going into remission for only nine months. Notwithstanding her courage and willingness to undergo aggressive treatments, Mary passed away on her grandson’s birthday, March 15, 2005, in her home with John, her devoted husband for 32 years, her son and other family members by her side.

Mary was the essence of compassion, duty and loyalty—the symbol of selfness humanity—and a champion who transcended strength, hope and love. She epitomized courage, even though she suffered each day. In the last five wonderful years that God granted her, Mary danced at her son’s wedding, traveled to Europe, watched her son graduate law school and purchase his first home, witnessed the birth of her grandson, and finally, shared in the same communion bread as her grandson did when he was baptized just days before her passing.

Mary often told her husband that something must be done to help other women avoid so much pain and suffering. For this reason John Ainilian set up Mary’s Fund which supports the Lynne Cohen Preventive Care Clinic for Women’s Cancers at USC/Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. As John tells us, “By having the Fund with The Lynne Cohen Foundation, I am carrying out what Mary wanted—to help prevent other women from enduring this deadly disease.”

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