Thursday, June 7, 2012

Celebrate the Women in Your Life

Our Honorees: Jan, Linee, Monica, and Charite
Photos by Lyndsey Yeomans
Jack and Lola Photography 
Celebrate the Women in Your Life was a celebration of life, love, friendship and honor.  Sunday June 4th in Venice, California more than 100 FORCE friends and family came together to celebrate the women in our lives and to raise money for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer research.  Our event was hosted by Switch Studios and our hosts Matt and Nadja could not have been more gracious and helpful.  The celebration included two screenings of the Glamor Reel Moments film A Proper Send-Off directed by Eva Longoria based on the story of our friend Jan Livingston Mokhtari as well as a champagne brunch, silent auction and ceremony to honor  four women who have helped raise awareness of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and who have made a significant difference in the lives of others, including Jan Livingston Mokhtari for sharing her story in A Proper Send-Off; Linee Zajic for her multiple volunteer roles with FORCE including LA Outreach Coordinator, Director of Healthcare Partnerships and Director of Outreach Western Region; certified genetic counselor Charit√© Ricker for her work with FORCE and for her outreach to the underserved Spanish speaking population of high-risk families; and certified genetic counselor Monica Alvarado, for being one of the first FORCE volunteers, for serving on the FORCE Healthcare Advisory Board, and for her unwavering willingness to be of help wherever and whenever needed, including with outreach to the Spanish speaking community.

Jan Livingston Mokhtari
I met Jan three years ago when Jan and her sister Stacie began to attend FORCE meetings. Jan has known that she carries a BRCA2 mutation since 2004 but really her family story goes back much farther than that. Jan’s mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41, and Jan’s grandmother had died of breast cancer when she was in her 60s. When Jan's mom and grandmother battled breast cancer, the BRCA genes had not yet been discovered. When Jan was in her 20s her mother battled breast cancer for a second time, then her family got another shock: her 32-year-old cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer. The cancer, which was originally believed to have been was caught early, claimed her cousin’s life a mere 18 months later. But Jan and Stacie’s cousin left them a gift, the gift of knowledge that their family’s repeated struggles with breast cancer were caused by a BRCA mutation. Jan was 31 and newly married when she learned that she had a BRCA mutation. Stacie got the same news, both sisters share their mother’s genetic legacy.

Jan launched into the odyssey that is high-risk surveillance for breast and ovarian cancer and after a couple of years her doctors began to talk with her about the option of preventive mastectomies. Not knowing any BRCA carriers outside her family and being frankly quite scared of surgery because of her mother’s experience, Jan found FORCE and attended her first meeting, where she was relieved to learn that preventive mastectomy was not the mutilation that she had feared. Jan ultimately made the decision to have prophylactic mastectomies after the birth of her second child.

In the weeks leading up to her surgery, she began telling friends about her decision and her friends took it into their own hands to create a proper send-off for Jan’s breasts. One friend mentioned casually doing a boudoir photo shoot as a farewell to her breasts. Jan envisioned something with a friend in the privacy of her own bedroom but that is not what happened. Two weeks before her surgery she received a call from a producer she had never met telling her that she would have a professional shoot at a studio in Hollywood four days later and that all of the professionals involved would be donating their time. The photographer was none other than Robert Ascroft, whose magazine covers and celebrity shoots are famous. Much of the rest of the story is wonderfully told in the film A Proper Send-Off.  Robert Ascroft, make up artist Su Han, who also donated her time for Jan's special photo shoot, and actress Victoria Smurfit, who played Jan's friend in the film, all attended our celebration and screening, which made it even more special.

Many thanks to all to helped create the day and many thanks to everyone who attended.  The day was wonderful beyond compare because you were all there.  Together we raised more than $10,000 for the FORCE Hereditary Cancer Research Fund.  Our goal is to find better prevention and treatment options and to save lives.  Together we can make a difference.

Finally, many, many thanks to our sponsors, without whom our day would not have been possible.  Special thanks to our gold sponsor the Center for Restorative Breast Surgery in New Orleans, who donated the iPad for our raffle as well as to govino for donating the festive champagne flutes for serving our mimosas and bellinis.  Thanks to Lyndsey Yeomans of Jack and Lola Photography for donating her time to photograph our event.  We will be posting more photos on the LA FORCE Facebook page.


Event Sponsors

Gold Sponsor

Silver Sponsors

R. Kendrick Slate, MD: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Kouros Azar, MD: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Thousand Oaks, California

Huntington Reproductive Center Medical Group

Govino, the ultimate go anywhere wine glasses.


Friends of FORCE

Richard P. Frieder, MD: Gynecology, Obstetrics and genetics

Andrew Da Lio, MD: Plastic and reconstructive surgery, UCLA

Diagnostic Automation Inc.

The Cole Family

The Mokhtari Family


With Special Thanks to:

Our Photographer: Jack and Lola Photography

Photographer and Director Robert Ascroft

Actress Victoria Smurfit


Our Host: Switch Studios
Our hosts: Matt and Nadja

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License. Inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the authors.

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