As long as we live in a world where one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, the organizers of Not My Daughter… find a cure now! say they will continue to support efforts to find a cure while assisting women fighting the disease. Not My Daughter’s ongoing support of Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System, was recognized during the Miami Hurricane’s Pink Game on October 8, which is held annually in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
A check presentation ceremony was held during the game, recognizing Not My Daughter's generous $300,000 donation to Sylvester, bringing the volunteer-run organization’s total giving to an impressive $703,000. Denyse Hostig, president and founder of Not My Daughter, Jody Sternfield and Debi Weisman, vice presidents, and Melissa Messana and Jen Freeman, committee members, presented a ceremonial check to University of Miami President Julio Frenk and Sylvester Director Stephen Nimer, M.D.
The idea behind Not My Daughter… find a cure now! developed after Hostig recovered from an aggressive form of breast cancer. The mother of three was determined to help find a cure so that her daughter would never have to face breast cancer.
Supportive Network, Expanded Efforts
Joined by her supportive network of friends, Hostig founded Not My Daughter in 2010 with the mission to promote breast cancer awareness and contribute to research to find a cure so their daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and loved ones can live in a world without breast cancer.
While Not My Daughter continues to support cancer research, it has expanded its efforts to include providing essential support services to breast cancer patients and funding a screening program for patients at high risk of developing breast cancer.
Recognizing that many ancillary services are not covered by insurance, making them unaffordable to many women, Not My Daughter felt it was vital to create a welcoming and comforting place where breast cancer patients can receive nutritional counseling, massage therapy, wigs, or whatever support services they need to make their path to survivorship easier. Not My Daughter opened its first Patient Support Services Center at Sylvester Plantation in 2019, and a portion of their latest donation will help build a second one at Sylvester at Deerfield Beach.
Their pledge will also benefit Sylvester’s new high-risk assessment program. As the mother of a 24-year-old daughter, Hostig says she is particularly excited to support this pioneering project led by Alejandra Perez, M.D., medical director of the Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute at Sylvester at Plantation.
“Because I had breast cancer, my daughter is now considered high risk. It is reassuring to know that she is now a patient of Dr. Perez and will be part of this new screening program,” said Hostig. “For the first time, there is now a place where women can go and get answers about their health and risk.”
Hostig, who had no family history of breast cancer and tested negative for the BRCA gene, believes the knowledge gained through Sylvester’s high-risk assessment program will be life-changing for the thousands of daughters, granddaughters, and other close relatives of breast cancer patients living in South Florida, and, hopefully, help find a cure.
"I don't want to keep treating women with breast cancer. I want to prevent it," said Dr. Perez, a breast medical oncologist for more than 20 years. “We have made tremendous advancements in treatment over the years, but now we must shift our focus to prevention. We developed the Cancer Assessment Risk Evaluation (CARE) Clinic at Sylvester. Here, we will identify women we think are at high risk and then develop a personalized plan with preventive care to decrease their risk of breast cancer.”
Sylvester is South Florida’s only NCI-designated cancer center, and it is the only nationally ranked cancer hospital, based on rankings by U.S. News & World Report.
'For the Next Generation'
Hostig believes this screening program will bring Not My Daughter one step closer to realizing its mission to ensure future generations of women do not need to live in fear of breast cancer. “Having helped raise money for research and ancillary services, we are now helping support services for the next generation,” she said. “Our goal is not my daughter, not your daughter, not your daughter-in-law, not the next generation of daughters will have to deal with breast cancer the way our generation has."
"At Sylvester, a part of our mission is to reduce the human burden from cancer, and Not My Daughter is certainly helping in that effort," said Dr. Nimer, director of Sylvester, the Oscar de la Renta Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, and executive dean of research at the Miller School. “We are extremely grateful for their support and partnership. The vision and commitment of this passionate group of women in creating patient support services have vastly improved the patient experience at Sylvester Plantation. They will soon do the same for our patients in Deerfield Beach.”
In addition to the check presentation, the Pink Game festivities included a ceremonial pink jersey gifted to Dr. Nimer and President Frenk. They were accompanied by Susan Kesmodel, M.D., director of breast surgical oncology at Sylvester, and two of her patients, Lucicarmen and Maricarmen Lopez. After Lucicarmen was diagnosed with breast cancer, it was discovered that she and her identical twin were BRCA2 positive. This led Maricarmen to undergo a preventive mastectomy. Both women are living proof that breast screening for early detection and genetic testing in patients with breast cancer can save lives.
Sylvester sponsors the Miami Hurricanes football game to raise awareness and honor patients and survivors. For more on the Pink Game, click https://vimeo.com/likesuperclutch/review/758492609/a46bc3369e