Elizabeth worked hard to understand and manage her own disease and, to that end, she helped advance the research work of her doctors at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Eric Winer and Dr. Elgene Lim. Donating tissue from her own tumor for use in their research, she was inspired by hope that the progress they are making against breast cancer will benefit the next generation of women and their families.
To honor Elizabeth’s commitment, her family established the Elizabeth Alling Sewall Endowment Fund at Dana Farber. The Fund balance, currently at 800,000, continues to grow through the generous contributions of family and friends.
“Elizabeth and I talked a lot about ways to turn her illness into a positive force in our own lives and in the lives of our family and friends. Further, we talked about the good we could contribute to the world at large, to make this hard journey meaningful by helping people we’d never know in our lifetimes. These conversations led us to create an endowment at Dana-Farber, The Elizabeth Alling Sewall Endowment. This fund will exist into perpetuity providing a steady stream of resources to support the work of Dr. Eric Winer and his associates as they push on to more effective treatment for breast cancer.”
— Gordon Sewall
Elizabeth especially wanted to support the development of new therapies targeted at lobular breast cancer which was a surprise diagnosis for her in 2011 after having been free from ductal cancer for nine years. While lobular cancer accounts for only 10% of all breast cancers, it is particularly difficult to diagnose early and is particularly aggressive in later stages.
Dr. Winer and his team will use Elizabeth’s Endowment Fund specifically for lobular cancer research. Dr. Winer explains, “There are some clear differences between lobular and ductal cancers. And for the 18,000 women in the U.S. alone who develop lobular cancers each year, we need better therapies. We will use the funds to identify the differences between lobular and ductal cancers at a molecular and genetic level, with the hope (and expectation) that these studies will lead us to a better understanding of lobular cancers and the development of targeted therapies for these women. We have some clues, but it is time to take these clues and make real strides.”
Elizabeth’s family has the annual Pan-Mass Challenge bike ride, held each August in the Boston area, to raise funds for Elizabeth’s endowed fund for breast cancer research. Every single dollar given to the family’s Pan-Mass Challenge team goes directly to Elizabeth’s Endowment Fund at Dana-Farber. If you’d like to make a contribution, you can do so at the family’s Team Elizabeth Page at the Pan-Mass Challenge website.