Our Mission

The Dorothy Foundation a 501(c) 3 was founded to re-inspire and achieve momentum in the fight against cancer.  Our perspective is that after 35 years, we are not getting there fast enough.  Our goal is to provide the most up to date information regarding cancer treatments and research, to inform those affected by cancer, and to support the most promising, innovative research in the field.




A Letter From our Executive Director

Dear Friends of the Dorothy Foundation:

Thank you for visiting the Dorothy Foundation website. While you are here, I would like to tell you how the Dorothy Foundation came about and why a movement toward a new and innovative cancer research model just might "get us there faster" with regard to a cure for cancer.

How many of you remember your first encounter with cancer? For my family it began when my mother, Dorothy, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 44. We knew very little about the disease in those days. My parents had no idea what questions to ask, which doctors to go to, or what a drug protocol was. My mom was diagnosed by a general practitioner. There were no specialists, no oncologists to confer with; only a surgeon who performed the radical mastectomy that was routine in those days. After my mom's surgery came radiation therapy, which burned her skin and disabled her thyroid completely.

Adding to the trauma after surgery and radiation, my mom underwent a precautionary hysterectomy. For two years she lived in remission, but had no relief from the psychological and emotional burdens. When the cancer returned, there was nothing more the local doctors could offer. So her surgeon referred her to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and her life as a human guinea pig began. My mom willingly participated in these experimental drug trials for 3 years because she desperately wanted to live and there were no other options. The treatments were difficult and she had to travel by airplane to Maryland from Pennsylvania.

I consider my mom a hero for bravely enduring all of the experimental drug protocols that gave my mom hope and a short-lived remission, but ultimately left her body physically unable to fight any more. My mother succumbed to the disease in 1976 at the age of 49.

Some of the same very toxic chemotherapy drugs that my mother received experimentally at NIH are still being used today, almost 40 years later. The progress made in fighting breast cancer has been   impressive--due in great part to early diagnostics (regular mammogram screenings.) But a cancer diagnosis today still evokes a feeling of awesome dread.

Why haven't we been able to diagnose more cancers in the earliest stages when they are more easily treatable? Why haven't we been able to find more effective and less toxic treatments? And lastly: Why haven't we found a cure yet?

At the outset of the Dorothy Foundation, we asked these questions. And we believe the answer might lie in HOW research is being conducted. In many instances, cancer research is done in a vacuum; where intellectual property is valued above all else. And it has recently come to light that the data itself is often unreliable. We believe that sharing verifiable data could positively and dramatically alter the landscape in cancer research. So the Dorothy Foundation wants to create a broader movement to encourage and facilitate the sharing of reliable and standardized data. We want to ensure that data can be made available to all researchers in their quest to find a cure for cancer; that the proprietary nature inherent in some research centers gives way to an "open science" model where collaboration is key.

In founding the Dorothy Foundation, my brother Jude, and I want to honor our mother and the sacrifices she and countless others have made. We hope you will support and join us as we support and facilitate the creation of a collaborative research model that seeks to make cancer history.


Sandra M. LaCava
Executive Director