The Marcie and Ellen Foundation’s mission is to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research in memory of Marcie Westermeyer and Ellen Ervin. The ME Foundation fights for the prevention of breast cancer by advocating early detection, education, and awareness.
One hundred percent of the organization’s proceeds go directly to the Breast Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory at The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. The Breast Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory focuses on finding cures for breast cancer by exploiting genetic changes involved with breast cancer initiation and progression, as well as genetic changes leading to drug resistance. Click here to learn more about the lab director Dr. Ben Ho Park.
About Marcie Westermeyer
Marcie grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland and lived in Howard County, Maryland with her husband Gary and their two daughters Lauren and Katie.
Marcie Westermeyer was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, 2005. She had yearly mammograms and had also seen her OB/GYN in April to have a benign cyst drained in the same breast that 6 months later had a malignant tumor 1/3 the size of her breast. This diagnoses was not soon enough, the cancer had already spread into her lymph node and liver. Marcie lost her fight against cancer on October 1, 2006 at the age of 43. She is survived by her loving husband Gary and her daughters Lauren and Katie.
About Ellen Ervin
Ellen Ervin also grew up in Montgomery County, Maryland and moved to Howard County, Maryland with her husband Bob and their two daughters Caitlin and Meaghan and son, Bobby.
Ellen Ervin was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2009. She fought hard- she received chemotherapy, had a bilateral mastectomy, and radiation treatment- and it seemed she was winning the battle. Unfortunately, three years after the original diagnosis (July 2012), Ellen found out that the cancer was back, and with a vengeance. It spread fast through her body, defying all treatments. Ellen lost her battle with cancer on November 9, 2012 at the age of 51.
Ellen loved her big, wonderful family and cherished her children more than anything. She and Bob were an ideal couple who shared their unequalled happiness with all who knew them. She made her home the gathering place for friends and family, full of warmth and joy. Her special creative flair was always on display through her decorating, her gardening, and her wonderful sense of style. She was a devoted business partner to Dr. David Higgins in his sports medicine practice where her talents are greatly missed. Ellen was an example for all of us on the importance of faith, and her deep abiding love for God — and the knowledge that He loved her — sustained her throughout her life and comforted her as she faced the end of her days here on earth. She touched us all so deeply and remains forever in our hearts where we strive to walk in her example just as she walked with Christ.
A Message from Dr. Ben Park’:
The majority of breast cancer patients in this country are diagnosed with early stage, potentially curable disease. Despite our best therapies, about 20 to 25% will relapse with incurable metastatic disease, (e.g. Marcie and Ellen). Partly, this is because for early stage disease we do not know which patients are cured after all therapies are completed and which patients are not. We treat using therapies based upon clinical trials, which really is using our “best guess”. But what if we could actually measure microscopic cancer cells to detect disease burden? This microscopic disease are the cancer cells that still exist after surgery, chemo and other therapies, and if present, will eventually come back as incurable metastatic disease. If we could reliably measure microscopic breast cancer cells after surgery and other therapies, we could actually know which patients are cured (a huge mental relief as you can well imagine) and which are not. And for those that are not cured, this knowledge presents opportunities to administer additional therapies either in the context of a clinical trial and/or other drugs, potentially curing more patients than we currently do now.
How can we do this? We believe the answer lies in measuring plasma tumor DNA. We started this concept several years ago, and support from your fundraising has contributed to this effort every step of the way. We were featured two years ago in the Baltimore Sun: http://www.baltimoresun.com/he
alth/breastcancer/bs-hs-breast -cancer-test-20141004-story.ht ml
Finally after many pilot and proof of principle studies, and almost a decade of work, we secured enough money (including from you) to start the very first multi-institutional (14 sites) nationwide trial to really prove this concept. If successful, we will be very close to using blood based tests to determine how to treat early stage breast cancers patients not based on guess work, but on actual data on an individual level. This will revolutionize breast cancer therapy, preventing “overtreatment” (patients who get chemotherapy that do not need it) and undertreatment, ie patients like Marcie and Ellen who are not cured and need more treatment.
So THANK YOU, and your team for the ongoing contributions. This has been literally my life’s work and seeing it come to fruition has been amazing, and truly a concerted effort of my research team and the sponsors who have believed in us and supported this. I think both Marcie and Ellen would be proud of this legacy and hope you will agree.