More than 1.4 million people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and three in four families will care for a family member with the disease.

It will be difficult, daunting and debilitating — but thanks to Westside resident, Dick Lippin, Chairman and CEO of the Lippin Group, help is now just a phone call away.

Over the past year, Lippin, along with his daughter, Alexandra — who also works at the Lippin Group — created a free community resource for families struggling with the emotional, social, financial and medical difficulties associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment.

There aren’t many people in the music business who do not recall Dick’s wife, Ronnie Lippin. As a respected music PR maven, she was responsible for the management of rock ‘n’ roll legends Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler, was instrumental in the comebacks of Brian Wilson and Prince and worked with artists such as The Who, Elton John and James Taylor.

“Ronnie went in for a typical mammogram and was told she was fine. A week later, while at the gym, she found a lump in her breast,” Lippin said.

Her passing, from a rare form of breast cancer, left her devoted husband and daughter devastated but determined to take action to help others in similar circumstances.

The Lippins had gone through an agonizing year and a half process of seeing doctors and going to hospitals and said, Lippin, “We realized how little we actually knew [about cancer].”

Frustrated with a lack of resources, father and daughter decided they wanted to provide a free service, “dedicated to helping cancer patients and their families cope with the complexities and challenges of a cancer diagnosis by providing access to current cancer related information and resources.”

Lippin knew, “There wasn’t any one service in L.A. County which could direct people who had questions about daycare, transportation, medical service advice, insurance … all the things that people find themselves frustrated with when confronted with and dealing with a life-threatening disease,” and so Lippin and Alexandra worked diligently to organize and develop the Ronnie Lippin Cancer Information and Resource Line and funded it through the Lippin Family Trust.

The RLCIRL and its professional staff, “assess needs, clarify concerns, provide both online and telephone service to help families make educated decisions through all aspects of the cancer experience … real people respond to questions,” Lippin said.

Coming to California

Dick met Ronnie during a rainy weekend in Manhattan while attending a time-share seminar. The deluge forced the couple to hunker down in a bowling alley and get to know each other. Lippin thought his wife-to-be was “interesting and cool” and freely admitted, “She helped me shape up my wardrobe.”

The Lippins moved to California in the late 1970s. Dick had been working on Wall Street working in investor relations and was able to transfer through his job. They bought two cars at auction in Alhambra.

“We had about $300 in the bank. It was a struggle,” Lippin said.

By 1986, Dick knew he wanted to create a specialized, global entertainment public relations company. Said Lippin, “I wanted to be involved in what were considered the platforms — television, film, music, home entertainment, licensing and merchandising and the Internet and mobile.”

What exists today is exactly what Lippin set out to achieve. The Lippin Group has wholly owned offices in L.A., New York and London with 75 percent of the business in the U.S. and Canada, the other 25 percent is in Europe, Asia and South America and their high profile clients include Disney, NBC Universal, News Corp. and Warner Bros.

With his business background Lippin said, “I was like a different voice. When I would talk about television it wasn’t just about the show and the content, which obviously is the most important, it was also about Neilsen Ratings — how do you get viewers to the TV? What are the demos? So I was able to talk in ways that I think made sense to the bottom line.”

Lippin realized long ago, that a movie was more than a film to view one time.

“A movie was a soundtrack album, it was licensing and merchandising, it was Pay-Per-View, it was home entertainment, and ultimately it was the Internet and mobile,” he said.

Truly a visionary, Lippin structured his company so that incoming revenue for created projects would travel over all existing platforms.

Lippin attributes his good fortune to, “luck and meeting interesting people early on in my career who ended up running studios,” Lippin said, “I’ve kept it simple. Work with people you want to work with. Only work in areas that you understand, and do projects which you can create added value.”

Besides the industry recognition, there is something even closer to his heart.

“Our goal is to help cancer victims and their families. We truly hope the RLCIRL will provide valuable assistance in helping families cope with this unfortunate situation … and that it will help many people in the years ahead,” Lippin said.

For more information check out: www.LACancerInfo.org

Taylor Van Arsdale is a writer/producer and movie reviewer for the Daily Press. She can be reached at Tailfish@roadrunner.com.