LIFE on the Links

Photo credit: jamie christian photography

A young woman hearing the words “you have breast cancer,” is devastating – but for a young woman to believe that she is too young to develop breast cancer is also a mistake.   It is that latter mindset to which LPGA veteran Val Skinner has long rallied to bring attention through the annual LIFE (LPGA pros In the Fight to Eradicate breast cancer) Event that supports breast cancer initiatives at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey.  She founded the charity golf outing following the loss of her dear friend and fellow LPGA member Heather Farr to breast cancer at the age of 28.  Skinner made a promise to help educate young women that breast cancer can strike at all ages, and that prevention and early detection are key.

In order to raise such awareness, Skinner  and some of the world’s most elite female golfers – including Paula Creamer, Yani Tseng, Lexi Thompson, Karrie Webb, Stacy Lewis and others – for the thirteenth straight year gathered on the links this past summer to help support initiatives at CINJ’s LIFE Center – raising $500,000.   

“Breast cancer is a despicable disease that has affected so many, both directly and indirectly.  I am so proud that the women of the LPGA continue to stand up in this fight by participating in events like LIFE.”

—Val Skinner, LPGA veteran

The LIFE Center offers numerous components related to breast cancer education including genetic counseling and cancer risk assessment both at CINJ and several CINJ Network hospitals. Through the years, the LIFE Event has raised nearly $8 million, with nearly half going to support LIFE Center initiatives at CINJ. 

BOLD group photoOne key initiative is BioCONECT, a high school curriculum supplement and teacher professional development program, as well as BOLD, a high school summer learning opportunity that teaches the biology and genetics of cancer through the context of breast cancer.  Both -- conducted in conjunction with the UMDNJ-School of Public Health -- address the need for science literacy, career awareness, health advocacy, and risk reduction through healthy life style choices. These efforts touch dozens of schools both in New Jersey and South Carolina – and because of additional funding from the LIFE event, have the potential to be offered in other states as well. 

“Breast cancer is a despicable disease that has affected so many, both directly and indirectly.  I am so proud that the women of the LPGA continue to stand up in this fight by participating in events like LIFE,” noted Skinner.  “Together, we are making a difference, and through partners like CINJ we will someday find a cure.”

“Val Skinner’s continued dedication to this cause is helping to save lives,” said CINJ Chief Medical Officer Deborah Toppmeyer, MD, who is the director of both CINJ’s LIFE Center and the Stacy Goldstein Breast Cancer Center. “Thanks to Val’s efforts and to all of those who support the LIFE Event, programs like BioCONECT are helping to educate young people about the importance of good breast health and healthy lifestyles, while also making a positive impact on science literacy,” noted Dr. Toppmeyer, who is also an associate professor of medicine at UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Supporters for the 2012 event include LIFE Partners: Amy & Joe Perella, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Marsh USA, C.R. Bard, Emblem Health and Genentech.  Other notable supporters are Assured Guaranty, ACE Group, QualCare, The Cox Classic/Steven A. Cox Foundation, Lincoln, Ken Langone and Ed Herilhy.