Stanford Medicine Newsletter Updates For the Local Community


Targeting women's cancers

Country music starts Garth Brooks and Trish Yearwood performed at a fund-raising luncheon recently for the Women’s Cancer Center at Stanford. Among those at the event were (from left) Jonathan Berek, MD; Brooks; Deborah Berek; Yearwood; Beverly Mitchell, MD, director of the Stanford Cancer Center; and Philip Pizzo, MD, dean of the medical school.


For Lisa Schatz, receiving a diagnosis of cancer in 2006 was a kind of surreal experience. She remembers standing outside the Stanford Cancer Center, wondering, “I’m so healthy. How did this happen to me?”

Fortunately, she had a form of uterine cancer that could be treated with surgery alone, with high cure rates. But she said she recognizes that many women with cancer don’t share that good fortune.

“I felt I was one of the lucky ones,” said Schatz, who lives in Atherton. “I had less than a 2 percent chance of recurrence. But I was looking around and seeing many people who had to come in for multiple treatments and had lost their hair. I felt I wanted to do something for those who weren’t as lucky as I was.”

A former executive at Esprit and the Gap, Schatz decided to apply her management skills to community activism, helping to raise funds for the Women’s Cancer Center at Stanford. The center, part of the Stanford Cancer Center, involves some 80 faculty and staff in a comprehensive effort to improve survival and cure rates for breast and gynecologic cancers.

Schatz chaired a committee for a December luncheon in Menlo Park that raised more than $1 million for the center’s clinical and research programs. The event featured country music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, both of whom have close family members who have suffered from cancer.

In addition, Laurie Lacob, a community leader and volunteer, and a Stanford alumna, contributed a $10 million gift to the center.

The funds will help construct a new home for the Women’s Cancer Center, a remodeled space in the Blake Wilbur building, across the street from the clinical cancer center. The 13,800-square-foot space will provide centralized care for women with breast and gynecologic cancers, doubling the existing clinical space for patients. The center is scheduled to open this summer.

“The beautifully designed space will facilitate compassionate and individualized care for our patients,” said Jonathan Berek, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and director of the Women’s Cancer Center. “And we are building an extraordinary program to go with it—one that substantially improves the integration of research and clinical care that we can offer our patients.”

Berek, who is internationally known for his work in ovarian cancer, said Stanford is working on many different fronts to fight breast and gynecologic cancers. Researchers are working on methods for early detection and prevention of these cancers, new therapies that use monoclonal antibodies and that corral the immune system to attack tumors, genetic-based approaches for detection and therapy, and studies involving cancer stem cells.

Stanford also is expanding its programs in supportive care for women, Berek said. The new Women’s Cancer Center will offer expanded social and psychological counseling services, support groups, guidance on sexual health and cosmetic and nutritional services.

For more information or to donate to the Women’s Cancer Center, visit or contact Dwane Anderson at (650) 234-0665.

Community support raises funds for consolidated services

A group of committed local women played a pivotal role in establishing the Under One Umbrella campaign in support of the Women’s Cancer Center at Stanford. The campaign was launched in late 2009 with a luncheon featuring award-winning actress Nicole

Kidman and her husband, country music star Keith Urban.

This year’s luncheon was organized by Deborah Berek, Fran Codispoti, Ann Doerr, Susie Fox, Jill Freidenrich, Lainie Garrick, Lisa Goldman, Laurie Lacob, Jillian Manus-Salman, Debbie Rachleff and Dianne Taube.

“I think women supporting women, being able to help one another, is very empowering,” said Lisa Schatz, who chaired the group. “We’re trying to build this together, with input and financial support from the community, to make it really organic. This is something we are all working on together with Stanford.”

Footer Links: