Passing of acclaimed film producer and cancer activist

Laura Ziskin, the Hollywood producer behind such hit movies as Pretty Woman and the Spider-Man franchise.

I was saddened to hear of the death this week of acclaimed film producer and cancer activist Laura Ziskin.  Ziskin, who lived with breast cancer for seven years, was a co-founder of Stand Up To Cancer, a group marshaling the entertainment industry’s resources to engage the public in supporting a new approach to cancer research geared toward getting new therapies to patients quickly.

The following is an extract from the SU2C website in honor of Diskin.

Earlier this year, Ziskin was awarded The Producers Guild of America’s Visionary Award for her work as a film producer and her humanitarian efforts in the fight against cancer. Speaking of herself and the other SU2C co-founders, Ziskin said

We realized we had the potential to make cancer the first-tier issue it needs to be and to impact how cancer is treated by using our skills as producers and quite literally ‘putting on a show.’ Stand Up To Cancer is my most important production and I am so touched and proud that the PGA is honoring us for it.

One of Stand Up To Cancer’s key goals is to foster increased collaboration among cancer researchers at different institutions.  Currently, 355 scientists from 55 institutions collaborate, interact and share information through SU2C.

“Laura was the heart and soul of Stand Up To Cancer,” said SU2C co-founder Sherry Lansing. “She dreamed big, and attacked every challenge with creativity, passion, perseverance and intelligence.” Added SU2C co-founder Katie Couric, “Laura was one of the most courageous people I’ve ever known.  Her fearlessness in the face of this relentless killer inspires everyone on the SU2C team to redouble our efforts to make cancer history.”

Ziskin’s feisty spirit and hopeful outlook about the potential of cancer research was evident in a blog she authored just days ago, on National Cancer Survivor’s Day.

The ensuing seven years have been quite an odyssey, but I am still here, fortunate to count myself among the 28 million cancer survivors worldwide … feeling fortunate and grateful doesn’t mean I’m not mad, though. I’m mad as hell, not only about my years of misdiagnosis, but also that — despite many advances in the fight against breast cancer — the particular type of disease I have is still a challenge to treat. Cancer sucks, and each and every day I have moments of telling it where to go. And today, on National Cancer Survivors Day, I can shout it from the rooftops!… So please join us today, with whatever message you wish to send cancer. Take a stand — for yourself, for a loved one … for anyone in the fight. Let’s make everyone diagnosed with cancer a survivor.

Laura Ziskin – March 3, 1950 – June 12, 2011