In the summer of 1989, my late wife Marsha and I were vacationing in southern California. Little did we know that insidious ovarian cancer cells were taking up residence throughout Marsha's body. We were happy, relaxed, and feeling confident about the future. One daughter had graduated from college, married, and 'flown the coop.' Four more to go! Our baby was entering second grade.
As we diligently slathered spf 45 all over our bodies, we basked in the glow of the California sun and our life's successes. Our future was bright. The irony of the spf 45 to stave off the years was compelling. Marsha would succumb to her cancer within four years. She died three weeks before her 50th birthday.
Her diagnosis came a month after that vacation, less than six months after a clean bill of health from her annual check up. Her enlarged ovary was attributed to the fact that she had borne five children.
As an oncologist, I feared the worst. The cancer had long since spread beyond Marsha's ovaries. Her chances of surviving five years were slim. Nevertheless, we unrelentingly fought her cancer. Chemotherapy, tamoxifen, countless other drugs, and two bone marrow transplants were our weapons. We kept up hope even after so many setbacks; there was too much to lose.
During Marsha's life her focus was on her family. She felt that the most important contribution she could make to humanity was raising our daughters to be kind, compassionate, and moral individuals. She was warm-hearted and loving. Our door was always open, whether for newcomers to the community or kids around the block. She juggled a lot with five kids but always had time to listen, to help, and to care for those around her.
Marsha died four years after her initial diagnosis leaving me and five daughters devastated and lost in a dark sea of grief, despair, and doubt. My two youngest daughters were only 11 and 15.
Determined to turn our grief into something positive, I began to lay the groundwork for the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research in 1994 while my five daughters went to work organizing the first annual Swedish SummeRun benefiting the Marsha Rivkin Center.
My daughter, Heidi, came up with the idea of SummeRun as a way to raise important funds for the Center. She felt it was appropriate that fundraising be at the grass roots level. The SummeRun is a wonderful opportunity for families and friends to join in the fight against ovarian cancer. We want to help protect other mothers, daughters, sisters, and those who love them from experiencing this dreaded disease.
What better tribute is there for a woman who valued family, friendship, and community than to have a community and family sponsored event with the purpose of helping others. However, both the Marsha Rivkin Center and the SummeRun are more than a tribute to Marsha - they are a tribute to all who are touched by stories like ours and want to help others fight cancer, promote awareness, and make the world a better place!
– Saul Rivkin, MD
Founder & Chairman, Marsha Rivkin Center