Zora Brown, Prominent Cancer Research Advocate, Dies at 63 


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[Zora Brown’s] life’s work as a cancer advocate has been extremely important in increasing public awareness about cancer, especially among women. In her memory and honor, we will do our utmost to work even harder to expedite the prevention and cure of this disease that takes so many.

—Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (h.c.)

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) reported with sadness the loss of Zora Brown, a trustee for the AACR Foundation for the Prevention and Cure of Cancer, a breast and ovarian cancer survivor, and a pioneering advocate for cancer research and breast cancer awareness among minorities.

Ms. Brown, who passed away March 3, 2013, at 63 years of age, was also the founder and chairperson of Cancer Awareness Program Services (CAPS) and the Breast Cancer Resource Committee (BCRC), an organization dedicated to lowering the breast cancer mortality rate among African-Americans.

“There is a hole in our hearts as we mourn the loss of Zora Brown, who despite her many years of dealing with two cancers and multiple relapses, maintained an amazing and courageous spirit that inspired everyone around her,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD (h.c.), AACR’s Chief Executive Officer. “Her life’s work as a cancer advocate has been extremely important in increasing public awareness about cancer, especially among women. In her memory and honor, we will do our utmost to work even harder to expedite the prevention and cure of this disease that takes so many.”

Advocate for All Women

At the end of her life, Ms. Brown was living with stage III ovarian cancer, but she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1981, at just 32, and then again in 1997. Her experience with cancer led her to devote her life as an advocate for women, and for African-American women in particular, with breast and ovarian cancers.

Presidential-appointed Member of NCAB

In 1991, President Bush appointed Ms. Brown to the National Cancer Advisory Board (NCAB) to serve on the 18-member advisory body of outside experts whose primary task is to advise the secretary of Health and Human Services, the director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and ultimately the president of the United States on a range of issues affecting the nation’s cancer program and, specifically, NCI operations. She served on the board until 1998. Due in part to Ms. Brown’s influence, Congress appropriated $500,000 for breast and cervical screening for low-income, uninsured, inner-city women.

“The AACR and cancer research community lost an amazing and gracious woman with the passing of Zora Brown. I cannot stress enough the importance of her work as an advocate for cancer research. She, along with other advocates, are the unsung heroes in fight against cancer,” said AACR President Frank McCormick, Ph.D., director of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Zora’s strength in battling her cancers and her passion for advocating for women with cancer were an inspiration to us all. She will be dearly missed but certainly never forgotten.” ■


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