(April 26, 2018) — In 2005, a group of Washington business women whose lives had been touched by breast cancer organized a fundraiser to support cancer research at Georgetown Lombardi. Since then, Women & Wine has grown into a philanthropic powerhouse — this year, raising over $630,000 for the Nina Hyde Center for Breast Cancer Research at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center on April 18 at the Ritz-Carlton in Tyson’s Corner.
“Who could imagine that when this event started 13 years ago with 90 women that it would turn into this extraordinary event with 600 people here raising so much money,” said Louis M. Weiner, MD, director of Georgetown Lombardi. “And that money is so important because it really does make a difference in our fight against breast cancer.”
Attended by more than 670 Washington-area women, the 13th-annual event was led by co-chairs Janet Davis from Brandywine Realty Trust and Barbara McDuffie from Baker Tilly, and included a briefing on the latest breast cancer research, networking, silent auction, dinner and speeches. Over $3.1 million has been raised by Women & Wine since its inception, supporting early-stage research that has allowed Georgetown Lombardi scientists to successfully compete for an additional $7 million in federal research funding.
Despite everything that divides people, the fight against breast cancer brings people together, said Hillary Howard, WTOP anchor and host of “It’s Academic” on NBC4. “So it's incumbent upon us to work together, to push forward with dedication, caring and creativity to come up with the treatments that will help the people we love and find a cure,” said Howard, who served as the Women & Wine master of ceremonies.
“Live Like You’re Dying”
Angela Ertlschweiger, the 2018 recipient of the Lombardi Spirit of Life Award, shared reflections about her journey as a breast cancer survivor. In March 2016, three weeks after receiving an unexpected promotion at her job, Ertlschweiger was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. “My mammogram went from clear to stage III in the course of one year,” she said. “Please stay on top of your mammograms, ladies.”
After receiving five months of chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy and two months of daily radiation, Ertlschweiger prepared to go to Mexico with her family to celebrate that cancer was behind her. Days before the trip, she contracted a staph infection, requiring emergency surgery to remove her breast implant.
“I came out of surgery deformed and for the first time since being diagnosed, I felt sorry for myself,” Ertlschweiger said. “I was mad. I did everything right. I did everything I was supposed to with a smile. And this wasn't supposed to happen.”
McDuffie referred Ertlschweiger to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital where she was treated by David Song, MD, MBA, academic chair of the department of plastic surgery at Georgetown University School of Medicine and MedStar Health physician executive director of plastic surgery. “Just four weeks after Dr. Song performed my final reconstruction, my family and I finally hopped on that plane to Mexico,” she said.
“The takeaway tonight is, I wish everyone could learn the lessons without having to go through the disease,” Ertlschweiger said. “I want you all to leave here tonight with a new lease on life. Live like you were dying.”