We were so sad to learn of the death of Bess Myerson, former Miss America and notable figure in New York City public affairs. In the news about her death, you may have noticed it mentioned that Bess was an ovarian cancer survivor, having fought the disease in the mid-1970s. What you may not know is that Bess was a tremendous SHARE supporter who helped us enhance our ovarian cancer services substantially.
In the mid-1990s, Bess pledged $100,000 to SHARE, enabling us to expand our ovarian cancer program at a time when virtually no direct services existed for women facing this disease. As a result of Bess's contribution, SHARE significantly increased the number of support groups offered, developed a dedicated helpline, and provided bilingual materials about the disease.
In addition to offering financial support, Bess joined SHARE's Board and lent her celebrity status to the cause, speaking publicly about her struggle with ovarian cancer and her work with SHARE at conferences around the country and to promote our fundraising events and program development efforts.
In an address she gave at an Indianapolis conference in 1997 organized by a group called "Ovar'coming Together, she said the following about SHARE:
"I've come to love these women. They have gallantry. They know things about the other by now that nobody else does. In our SHARE groups, it's the laughter that always touches me. . . . SHARE has helped to lead the way toward greater understanding by all women that fighting back is always more life-sustaining than immobilized fear."
While undergoing treatment in the 1970s, Bess did not speak publicly about her disease for many years because of the terrible stigma attached to cancer, even keeping it secret for a time from her family and friends. Becoming public about her disease in the 1990s was a major step for her.
We at SHARE are so grateful to Bess Myerson for her commitment to helping us serve women facing ovarian cancer. In her honor and memory, we're establishing the Bess Myerson Ovarian Cancer Support Fund. If you're interested in making a special donation to this fund, please click here.