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Working For The Cure Cosmetics Executive Takes On Role In The War Against Breast Cancer

One woman can make a difference.

Cosmetics executive Evelyn Lauder, wife of Leonard Lauder, president of Estee Lauder Inc., has made finding a cure for all kinds of breast cancer a top priority.

In 1993, she helped found the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, with Estee Lauder Inc. underwriting the legal fees to create the foundation, absorbing the costs for registering the foundation in every state in the union, and paying the salaries of the foundation’s two employees.

The foundation funds research in the causes and treatment of breast cancer at eight major cancer centers around the country, including Memorial Sloan Kettering, the Mayo Clinic, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Lauder also donated the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

Dedicated in 1992, the center was established in the hope of becoming a model comprehensive breast and diagnostic facility for medical centers throughout the world.

Now Lauder has put together a book of photographs she has taken all over the world, called “The Seasons Observed” (Harry N. Abrams Inc.).

From spring through winter, from Snow Ball, Colo., to Positano, Italy, Lauder’s photos are beautiful and peaceful images of some of the most breathtaking scenery on Earth.

But even this new project advances the breast cancer agenda. All royalties from the book are donated to the foundation.

Evelyn Lauder is modest about her crusade against this series of diseases that is the leading cause of cancer death for all women between the ages of 35 and 54. Of the 182,000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed annually in the United States, 46,000 die of the disease. Twice as many people die of breast cancer as die of AIDS.

Lauder is out to help change that.

Years ago, she worked with the Cosmetics Toiletries and Fragrance Association and the American Cancer Society on its Look Good, Feel Better Project, a program designed to help all cancer patients, but particularly women who go through skin and hair changes due to the disease.

When Lauder helped design the breast center, she was a strong advocate for a consumer friendly environment, designed for the convenience of the patient.

“All services are actually integrated in one location,” she explained in a recent telephone interview. “You don’t have to go to different areas around the city to access services.”

From diagnosis to surgical consultation (if it’s necessary), to therapy, to a pharmacy for convenient filling of prescriptions, the center has it all. There is also a boutique where women who have had breast surgery are fitted with brassieres. The boutique also has scarves and turbans with bangs attached at the front and hair attached at the back so that women facing hair loss from chemotherapy can cope.

It is Evelyn Lauder’s hope that a lot more fashion companies will join with her company to make this a major initiative.

“We all need to be educated,” she said. “If this disease is caught early, it can be cured.

“The more women know about breast cancer - and there are many forms of the disease - the better their chances of survival.”

The new book came out of the breast center.

“The wing has no windows, so we needed art that women could look at while they were there,” Lauder said. “I thought the art work should be of peaceful, pastoral scenes. I offered my photographs.

“I’ve been taking photos as a hobby for 30 years, but here was a chance to use them to make other people feel better.”

Three hundred of her photos were used, and she helped select another 300 photos from the work of 55 other photographers to create quite an exhibit in the facility.

When Lauder’s friend, gallery owner Holly Solomon, saw the photos, she suggested doing an exhibit at her New York gallery. It was quite a success and led to another of Lauder’s friends, Paul Gottlieb, president of Harry N. Abrams, suggesting a book of her photos.

The first book has been such a success that she is already working on a second.

Lauder enjoys her success as a photographer, but says she is more gratified by her work for breast cancer. She means to make a difference.

The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = By Joyce Gabriel The Stamford Advocate

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