"Everyone has a cancer story that hits home," said Eileen Murphy. "That’s what prompts you to action."

Together with Jennifer Rhind, Eileen is taking action in the fight against cancer by serving as co-chair of this year’s Breakthrough Ball. Hosted by the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation (UCCRF) Women’s Board, the ball is UChicago Medicine’s signature cancer fundraising event. Held on Saturday, November 10, 2018 at the Four Seasons, proceeds from the ball will advance the UCCRF’s mission to support leading-edge research on the causes, diagnosis, and prevention of cancer at the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Since its founding in 1947, the UCCRF Women’s Board has raised over $20 million to fund promising research that, in many cases, would not proceed otherwise. Last year’s ball raised $1.5 million with more than 500 of Chicago’s most influential business and civic leaders in attendance. Funds raised have contributed to breakthroughs in cancer detection, treatment, and outcomes for patients here in Chicago and around the world.

This year’s ball will honor Cynthia and Benjamin Chereskin with the Partners in Discovery Award for their extraordinary leadership, vision, and generous philanthropy in support of our cancer programs.

"As a board member, Cindy is a beloved leader and an inspiration," said Jennifer. "We are delighted to celebrate the Chereskins’ significant contributions and dedication to advancing the most innovative and promising research through their founding gift to the Janet D. Rowley Discovery Fund."

Eileen and Jennifer are thrilled to play a central role in supporting this year’s ball. Eileen was inspired to help propel cancer research after two personal experiences: her sister’s diagnosis with colon cancer at age 31 and her mother’s diagnosis with colorectal cancer five years later. Fortunately, today, both are doing well after undergoing rigorous treatments.

"Today, my sister is the proud mother of three beautiful children, and my mom is feeling fantastic and more active than ever," said Eileen. "This confluence of events, coupled with conversations with Women’s Board members, prompted me to join the board in 2013."

Meanwhile, Jennifer was also motivated to join the Women’s Board after seeing cancer touch the lives of family and friends.

"I feel especially grateful that there is a world-class cancer center so close to home that is not only dedicated to patient care, but also to advancing research," said Jennifer. 

First introduced to the UCCRF through a close friend, Jennifer learned more about its mission during her children’s years at the Laboratory Schools when she was introduced to many doctors working in the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Their dedication and determination were apparent," said Jennifer, "and my respect continued to grow as my understanding of their achievements developed."

When Jennifer’s father-in-law, a Life Trustee of the University, died of complications from multiple myeloma in 2013, his example became a call to action.

"Every day I feel grateful and inspired to work beside the exceptional women on the board," said Jennifer. 

Although planning the ball is a daunting task, Eileen and Jennifer have been fortunate to benefit from the support and guidance of fellow board members, the UCCRF Board of Trustees, past and current board presidents, and former ball chairs.

As the ball approaches, Eileen and Jennifer are hard at work planning a fabulous evening to raise funds that will ultimately improve the lives of the many individuals and families affected by cancer.

"It is humbling to be at this point," said Jennifer. "We thank our wonderful board members, generous supporters, the UCCRF Board of Trustees, our incredible presenting sponsors, corporate underwriters, and all those who have made it possible."