I met Lori Marx-Rubiner in November 2016 at a two-day Think Tank coordinated and hosted by Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Metastatic Breast Cancer Collateral Damage Project. (My freelance work includes writing and editing for the Foundation.)
As a woman living with metastatic breast cancer and as a breast cancer advocate, Lori was passionate about the Foundation’s project and she spoke eloquently throughout the meeting about her hopes for what the group could accomplish. As we chatted during a break, I had the feeling that had I still lived in Los Angeles we’d have made a coffee date–and kept it.
Five months later, at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting 2017, two of the editors of Cancer Today, which is published by the AACR, met Lori and her best friend and fellow advocate AnneMarie Ciccarella. The two women were presenting a poster in a scientific session at the meeting, and as photos from that day attest, they were both beaming with pride. Within weeks, the editors at Cancer Today made the decision to break with protocol and to have the cover of the Fall issue of the magazine feature two survivors—Lori and AnneMarie. I was the lucky journalist asked to tell their story.
I interviewed Lori in early June, before she set off on a bucket-list cruise to Alaska with her husband and son. We made plans for me to follow up with any additional questions that might come up during my reporting. A few weeks later I spoke with AnneMarie. Soon I was rounding out the story with interviews with other researchers and advocates. As I was writing, I learned Lori was in the hospital. Before she had left for Alaska, she had told me her cancer had progressed and she would be starting on a new treatment. But it was no match for her cancer. She transitioned to palliative care.
Lori died on August 2, 2017, less than two months after our interview and while the issue was still in production. Before her death, Lori and AnneMarie decided they wanted the article to run in Cancer Today as it had originally been written. We have honored those wishes. Here’s their story.