A Commitment to Early Detection

When I was a teenager, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She was deeply fearful of the disease and put off seeing a doctor; she also didn’t communicate her symptoms to anyone. By the time my mother sought medical attention, the cancer was late-stage, and despite an aggressive treatment protocol, she passed away at the age of 50.

If my mother had been encouraged to seek treatment earlier, she might have lived longer.

HeleneWhen I turned 48, I started to experience many symptoms consistent with ovarian cancer. I made an appointment with my local gynecologist, and he discovered a large tumor on my right ovary. Given my history and symptoms, everyone thought that it was an early stage of ovarian cancer. I was scheduled for surgery and the tumor was determined to be precancerous. This was a surprise to my local medical team, and myself.

I have been committed to sharing the importance of early detection, research, and education ever since.

I grew up in the South Bronx in New York City, and from a young age, I was aware of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s (MSK) reputation for being one of the top cancer hospitals in the country.

As an adult, I learned about how MSK partners with surrounding communities to provide early detection services. Unequal access to healthcare, or a lack of knowledge, may prevent people from seeking care when their diseases are treatable. MSK is working to change that.

MSK offers free annual screenings for skin cancer and head and neck cancers in New York and New Jersey and participates in health fairs that focus on cancer-related topics. This community-based approach empowers people to identify their cancers early and have a better chance of successfully treating them.

I have chosen to support MSK and their work empowering the public to advocate for their health through a gift in my estate plans. I named MSK as a beneficiary of my IRA, and opted to make my gift unrestricted, so it can be used for the area of greatest need at that time.

Fear of a cancer diagnosis should never prevent someone from seeking care when their disease is most treatable. I am confident that MSK’s dedication to expanding access to early detection will have a significant impact on families for generations to come, and I can’t think of a better way to give back than to support their work.

You can join Helene by making a gift to help Memorial Sloan Kettering further early detection and treatments for all cancers. Contact the Office of Gift Planning at giftplanning@mskcc.org or 800-688-1827 to learn more about how you can make a difference.