Archive for June, 2011:

what-would-laura-do

“In my world, in my vision, the hero always defeats the villain, the boy always gets the girl, and cancer is no more.” Laura Ziskin (1950-2011).

When I was younger I may have been unsure about many things, but one thing I was sure about was that I wanted to be someone who made a difference, who inspired people, who got things done. I aspired to be someone like Laura Ziskin. She was a woman who exuded inspiration, and a fighter like no one else I have ever known. Even at her sickest I felt like she would be around for a long time. Maybe that was naïve of me, but it’s what I believed. She had endless determination in everything that she did. Laura’s daughter Julia said it best, “Cancer f-d with the wrong woman.” Even though Laura died following a 7-year battle with breast cancer, she has set the groundwork for great things to come.  The cancer community is lucky to have had Laura on their side.

I was fortunate to have met Laura 3 years ago through her husband Alvin, whom I teach Pilates to. And every now and then she would sneak in a lesson. I did not spend a lot of time with Laura, however Alvin was so proud of her, as he should be, and shared stories about her accomplishments. While I was impressed to hear she produced movies like “Spiderman“ all 3 of them, “Pretty Woman”, and “As Good As It Gets,” what stood out most to me was her involvement with Stand Up To Cancer, a non-profit she co-founded. Their goal is to encourage collaboration, not competition, with the best and brightest in the cancer community. As Laura said in a CNN interview last year “the problem with cancer research in this country is that the scientists are siloed, and the system promotes competition, not collaboration…Stand Up To Cancer’s funding model mandates that the scientists collaborate, and compete against the disease instead of each other.”

Through knowing Laura I learned that 1500 people a day die of cancer. And 1 in every 2 men and 1 in every 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer, which means that either you or someone you know will be affected by the disease. Realizing something different needed to be done, Laura drew from her producing experience to help her with the biggest fight of her life. With her ability to bring the right people together, make a plan and see it through, and knowing what needed to be done to raise money, Laura helped organize two major fundraising telecasts for SU2C that aired in 2008 and 2010. The star studded events raised over $180 million combined. And as long as research continues, so must funding. So please visit the Stand Up To Cancer site to learn more about the organization and consider donating if you can. Every little bit helps.

Laura may have left this world too soon, but she has left an imprint that no one can ever erase.  I have only touched on one part of who Laura was as it’s the part that impacted me the most. However if it’s not obvious from how I spoke about her, there is so much more to know. I suggest googling her, and be prepared to be inspired.

I WROTE THIS FOR LAURA, AND I STAND UP TO CANCER.