Glitz, Glamour and the Good Fight: U of C Women’s Board Seeking New Members to Raise Funds for Cancer Research

Diamond earrings, a celebrity DJ and big donations to cancer research: These are just some of the things you will find at the University of Chicago Cancer Research Auxiliary Board’s March fundraiser, “Lucky 7.”

The board is looking for new members who want to work closely with their current group of 27 women, the university and the foundation to prevent, detect and eliminate cancer—and throw a glamorous party to help raise the funds. Midge Wegener, board president, and Margo Frost, board recording secretary, have several important reasons you should consider joining their board and attending the “Lucky 7” fundraiser on March 7:

To Support Cancer Research: The UCCRFAB was founded by North Shore resident Stephanie Howell in 1951, and since then it has worked to support the most renowned and well-respected cancer researchers in their fields. The board works closely with the University of Chicago to choose three doctors to support for a three-year period until they elect three new doctors. The board supports the doctors by providing each of them with up to $40,000 in unrestricted grants, meaning the doctors can choose how to spend the money—whether its hiring a new lab technician or purchasing a new microscope. While the board usually decides to sponsor doctors who specialize in cancers that specifically affect women, this year they expanded the fields. Their choices included:

  • Megan McNerney, MD, PhD, who is focused on immunology and studies how natural killer cells eliminate cancer cells.
  • Blase Polite, MD, who has expertise in the treatment of gastrointestinal malignancies with a particular focus on colon, rectal, and anal cancers, and neuroendocrine (carcinoid) tumors.
  • David VanderWeele, MD, PhD, instructor of medicine who focuses on his clinical work on genitourinary (GU) malignancies, including prostate, kidney, urothelial and testicular cancer.

To Educate Yourself: Joining the board of women who come from the North Shore suburbs of Wilmette, Winnetka, Deerfield and Northbrook, you will have the opportunity to learn about the most current, groundbreaking cancer treatments and statistics, according to Wegener and Frost. Both women agree that there have been drastic changes to cancer research in the past several years.

“Now there is targeted therapy, genetic testing, and that has only happened in the last six years,” Wegener says. “The fundamental difference between what our parents’ friends went through and what our friends are going to go through—it’s night and day.” 

To Support a Family Member or Friend With Cancer: While you definitely do not need to know someone with cancer to join the board, Wegener says this is often the case. She lost a dear college friend to cancer at what she calls a ridiculously young age. Her friend suffered from stage IV colorectal cancer, a type of cancer that one of this year’s sponsored researchers, Blase Polite, specializes in. One of the current board members of UCCFRAB is a survivor of colorectal cancer. “It just brings a lot of meaning to what we are doing,” Wegener says.

To Gain Unique Access to Top Doctors: When you join UCCRFAB, you gain access to a special friends and family program at the University of Chicago, which allows you to call on the doctors when you need help or a second opinion with the medical concerns of your own friends or family. “It’s not only that we’re on a first-name basis with the doctors,” Frost says. “We feel that we could call on them if we need to and I know personally I have and I have had wonderful results.”

To Help Throw and Attend a Fabulous Party: Each year the board puts on one fundraiser to raise the money for each of their sponsored doctors. This year the event will take place at Michigan Shores Club in Wilmette and will include music provided by a celebrity DJ hailing from Aspen, Colo., a wheel of fortune (never before seen on the North Shore), Blackjack and other casino games. Attendees will have the chance to win or bid on exciting prizes like diamond earrings and a two-night stay at Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

If you are interested in joining the board or attending the “Lucky 7” fundraiser, click here.