The Marilyn B. Gula Mountains of Hope Foundation takes its name from its founder, Marilyn Barry Gula, and her dedication to providing "hope" to women suffering with advanced breast cancer.
Marilyn, known affectionately by those who knew and loved her as "Lynn", faced her own battle with breast cancer. Diagnosed in 1996, she followed a course of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, The prognosis looked good, and Lynn thought she had beaten it. However, the cancer recurred a year and a half later, in 1998, and now the prognosis was different. She was told there was no cure - only control through drugs and treatment, including a long-term regimen of Tamoxofin. When that no longer worked, aggressive chemo cocktails, progressively invasive procedures - then, finally, hospitalization and very brief hospice care. She lost her battle with this insidious disease on July 26, 2006.
Lynn was a person who touched the lives of so many who knew her. She was a beautiful, quietly elegant and gracious woman with a huge capacity for caring. After the traumatic news of her diagnosis in 1996, she accepted that this was "the hand she was dealt". Rather than complain or bemoan her fate, Lynn was determined to fight the disease in every way possible. While going through her own course of treatment she volunteered at Cleveland's Hope Lodge, a place for families of cancer patients to live while their loved ones are being treated at the hospital. She was immediately embraced by the staff, families and patients for her warm, caring spirit. Her interest in improving quality of life for cancer patients developed into a passion for eliminating the disease. She didn't dwell on "why me?" but rather "what can I do to help others".
She learned as much as she could about the disease, the treatments available - and most importantly - research. The more she learned, the more determined she became to find purpose in the "hand she was dealt". In 2003 the Mountains of Hope Foundation was established to channel her passion into funding specific research projects focused on breast cancer diagnosis and treatment at two of the finest research facilities in the U.S. - Sloan Kettering in New York and UCSF in San Francisco.
Statistically, if your wife, your sister, or your mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, and it remains in or near the breast, her chances of surviving the cancer for at least five years are now 86%. Significant improvements in the survival rate have been achieved through early screening and better treatments. However, if your wife, your sister, or your mother's cancer spreads (metastasizes) to other parts of her body, her chances of surviving five years are only 26%. The Foundation was established to help change those statistics through the programs at Sloan Kettering and UCSF.