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Fiesta in Pink Supports Breast Cancer Research

Cancer Link luncheon raises critical funds for Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center breast cancer researchers’ quest for a cure.

As its name suggests, Cancer Link provides a link between the South Florida community and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, a part of UHealth – University of Miami Health System. For nearly 40 years, this all-volunteer group has been dedicated to raising funds to support breast cancer research, education, early detection and community outreach programs at Sylvester, the region’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.

Eight women at the Fiesta in Pink luncheon.
This year’s Fiesta in Pink luncheon raised more than $150,000 for breast cancer research.

“We originally started Cancer Link to support a dear friend who had been diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Cancer Link founder Marlene Berg. “Over time our mission moved from simply raising awareness to raising funds to support Sylvester. While there have been tremendous advances in cancer care over the years, we still have a long way to go. Cancer Link will not stop fundraising until there is a cure.”

Fueling Cancer Research

To date, Cancer Link has raised more than $4 million for Sylvester, including more than $150,000 from this year’s Fiesta in Pink luncheon. Cancer Link funding allows Sylvester’s world-renowned scientists, including Sophia George, Ph.D., Karoline Briegel, Ph.D., Susan B. Kesmodel, M.D., and Lluis Morey, Ph.D., to perform innovative cancer research and pursue novel treatments for this devastating disease.

“One of the things that impresses me the most about Cancer Link is that every single penny we collect goes directly to Sylvester researchers,” said luncheon coordinator Marisela Cisneros. “It’s also a very inclusive organization. We have members of all different backgrounds, ethnicities and ages – representing the global community in which we live – and we all have been touched by breast cancer in some way. The beauty is that everyone shares a common goal to support the groundbreaking research taking place at Sylvester.”

Global Impact of Cancer

Renowned health economist and breast cancer survivor Felicia Knaul, M.A., Ph.D., had the honor of serving as honorary luncheon chairperson. As director of both the Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas and Hemispheric and Global Affairs at UM, as well as president of Tómatelo a Pecho, a non-profit organization originally focused on promoting research, advocacy, awareness, and early detection of breast cancer, and now with an expanded mandate on women’s health and health system strengthening, Dr. Knaul spoke of the global impact of this disease.

“I work on global disparities in cancer outcomes and am dedicated to closing divides,” said Dr. Knaul, also a professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.  “While great work has been done in this country at fighting the disease, with huge accomplishments in survival, there are still many countries around the world – in fact, most – where breast cancer takes the lives of too many women, women who could and should be spared. The successes in the U.S. are a combination of awareness, earlier detection and better access to more efficacious treatments. Events like this one, and the work of leaders like Marlene Berg, will raise the level of healthcare around the world enabling a global cure.”

Closing in on a Cancer Cure

Researchers have made great strides, but there is still much work to be done. Breast cancer death rates have declined about 40% since Cancer Link was founded, in part due to better screening and early detection efforts, increased awareness and better treatment options, but breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide.

Members of the Cancer Link Board of Presidents at the Fiesta in Pink luncheon.
The Cancer Link Council of Presidents, from left: Norma Jean Abraham, Ivette Martino-Sarol, Diane Madden, Harriet Shapiro, Mary Rosenberg, Cheryl Ettelman, Susan Kaufman, Iliette Oliveros, Bonnie Sepe, Marisela Cisneros and Marlene Berg.

Cancer Link is committed to raising funds to support Sylvester’s efforts to discover better treatments and pursue possible cures. 

More than 450 Cancer Link members and guests gathered for this year’s Fiesta in Pink luncheon, held at Jungle Island in Miami. The event featured a silent auction, raffle and exciting performance by Black and Wine featuring a mariachi band and dancers.

Get Involved with Cancer Link

For more information about Cancer Link, email Allison Fitzsimmons.

Tags: Cancer Link, fundraising, philanthropy, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center