NEW YORK — The fight against cancer is one very dear to Donna Karan.
Karan lost her husband, Stephan Weiss, her mother and friends and mentors like Liz Tilberis and Anne Klein to the disease, and she is an active supporter of organizations like The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. On Monday, Women At Risk (WAR), a program based out of New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center, recognized Karan’s efforts in the battle against the disease at its 14th annual fund-raising luncheon.
“This is the war we should be talking about, and we need to fight it with a singular voice,” said Karan, addressing a room of 750, including Ingrid Sischy, editor in chief of Interview; Simon Doonan, creative director of Barneys New York; Patti Hansen; Faith Kates Kogan, president of Next Model Management, and Susan White, a partner in White + Warren. Held at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel here, it also featured guest speaker Dr. Susan Love, one of the early architects in the fight against breast cancer and author of “Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book.”
Bonnie Pressman, the luncheon’s chair, recalled how after her father’s funeral, Karan swept in and helped her husband with breathing exercises. “It’s her endless drive that separates her from the pack,” she said.
WAR aims to support women at risk or living with breast cancer though education and research.
“Most of us in the room know about the fragility of life,” said Susan Fuirst, founder and chairperson of the organization, who overcame two bouts of breast cancer and multiple surgeries. “Each day must be treated as a special day.”
Karan recalled how Anne Klein died while Karan was in the hospital after giving birth to her daughter, Gaby. “In those days, people did not advertise the word ‘cancer,’she recalled, demonstratively whispering the word. “I did not know she had cancer at the time.
“We will fight this together,” she continued. “We will find the cure.”
This story first appeared in the May 10, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.