In the battle against breast cancer, Cancer Link is a loyal ally to Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System. Started more than 37 years ago by a group of women that wanted to support a friend who was battling the devastating disease, the all-volunteer group has since dedicated itself to raising funds to support breast cancer research and awareness.
One of its original initiatives was to promote breast cancer awareness because, at the time, it was something people did not discuss. The group distributed breast self-exam cards to educate women and sponsored a mobile mammogram clinic to reach women in underserved communities. They also raised funds to support the work of Diana Lopez, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology and an early pioneer in breast cancer research at Sylvester.
While Cancer Link still advocates for awareness, its mission has shifted over the years to concentrate on fundraising for Sylvester researchers. The group has raised more than $4 million, mainly through its annual luncheons. This year’s event—Carnival in Pink—raised more than $100,000 to support Sylvester’s world-renowned physician-researchers to find new treatments and, ultimately, a cure for breast cancer.
“Everyone is touched by this deadly disease, whether as a survivor themselves, as a caregiver to someone with breast cancer, or having a friend, family member, or colleague being treated, " said Cancer Link Founder Marlene Berg. "While there have been tremendous advances in cancer care over the years, we still have a long way to go. That motivates us to keep up our efforts to support Sylvester and their incredible work."
Impact of Partnership
In addressing the luncheon crowd of more than 350 supporters who were dressed primarily in pink, Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester, thanked Berg, co-presidents Diane Madden and Mary Rosenberg, and the women behind Cancer Link for their ongoing support and long-lasting partnership.
“Since the beginning, your support has helped Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center perform innovative cancer research and find new ways to treat this disease,” said Dr. Nimer, who is also the Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and executive dean of research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "Your partnership helps us attract the best and brightest physicians and scientists, who are conducting the newest research, delivering the most innovative therapies to our patients, and promoting education for the next generation of scientists.”
Sylvester scientists Karoline Briegel, Ph.D.; Sophia George, Ph.D.; Susan Kesmodel, M.D.; and Lluis Morey, Ph.D., all receive support from Cancer Link for their important research. The investigators and attendees had an opportunity to meet one another at the event, a tradition that began many years ago.
Guests also heard a heartfelt thank-you from two members whose lives were forever changed by Cancer Link.
Lesley Tobin had been a Cancer Link supporter for many years. Still, it was not until her daughter, Lainey Kieffer, was diagnosed with breast cancer that Tobin genuinely understood this grassroots organization's impact. She credits the research supported by Cancer Link with saving her daughter's life.
Now nine years cancer-free, Kieffer expressed her gratitude and encouraged the audience to continue their generous support for Sylvester.
"The funds we raise today from Cancer Link are going to research new treatments and protocols for the next generation who has to endure this battle,” Kieffer said.
The Cancer Link Carnival in Pink luncheon, held at the Rusty Pelican on Key Biscayne, also included a silent auction, raffle, and carnival-style show featuring Black and Wine’s famous La Hora Loca dancers.
Cancer Link's mission is to ensure funding for breast cancer research, education, early detection, and community outreach programs at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, South Florida's only NCI-designated and nationally ranked cancer hospital. For more information about Cancer Link, contact Allison Fitzsimmons at email@example.com.