Dynamist Blog

"In a very real way, I owe my life to the glamour of makeup and movie stars."

Contrary to what you may have read in the gossip columns, I dedicated The Power of Glamour to my husband Steven, not to Ronald Perelman. But the book's acknowledgements do conclude with a note of gratitude to everyone involved in bringing the cancer drug Herceptin to the world, including Perelman who had a big part in financing its research. Thanks to the drug, I had an excellent prognosis—a 95% chance of survival—when I was diagnosed with early but aggressive breast cancer. Here's what I wrote in the book:

In July 2007, barely a week after receiving the final signed contract for the book, I was diagnosed with what turned out to be HER2-positive breast cancer, a particularly aggressive form of the disease. Twenty years earlier, I would have had only a fifty-fifty chance of survival, given the details of my case. Today, I am officially cured. Although I underwent the traditional treatments of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, what made the crucial difference was the pathbreaking biologic drug Herceptin, first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998.
The research that led to Herceptin was funded not by the federal government or a traditional cancer charity but by money from Ronald O. Perelman, in his role as chairman of Revlon, and by fundraising in the 1990s at a series of star-studded events called the Fire and Ice Balls. I am deeply grateful to the many people, only one of whom I know personally, responsible for bringing Herceptin to the world: to Dennis Slamon for his scientific vision; Lilly Tartikoff for her fund-raising energy; my oncologist, John Glaspy, for his persuasive eloquence; the researchers at Genentech for development and testing; and Perelman and Revlon for their financial contributions. In a very real way, I owe my life to the glamour of makeup and movie stars.

The story of Herceptin, one of the few true miracle drugs in the fight against cancer, is a remarkable one. You can read more about it here.

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