Almost every weekend, Lynne Cohen wanted to spend time at the beach in Santa Monica. From her Brentwood home, she would call what was then the Sand & Sea Club beach house and ask if the overcast skies had burned off.
“That’s where we spent every weekend,” recalled her daughter, Amy Cohen Epstein, a current Santa Monica resident. “Even on cloudy days. She was this really unbelievable person. … She was one of those ladies. People knew her, or they knew about her. She was so spectacular.”
Nearly two decades after the death of her mother, Cohen Epstein’s nonprofit organization is still honoring her memory by helping other women fight against ovarian and breast cancers. The locally based Lynne Cohen Foundation’s 15th-annual Kickin’ Cancer 5k fundraiser is scheduled for Oct. 2 on San Vicente Boulevard in Brentwood.
Money raised through the event will support operations at the foundation’s four preventive care clinics, where women receive screening and care for breast and ovarian cancers. There are two clinics in New York and one in Alabama as well as one in Los Angeles.
In one visit clinic patients can meet with medical specialists, nutritionists, psychosocial counselors and geneticists, who then convene to develop specific prevention or treatment regimens. The in-person cooperation, foundation spokeswoman Ginna Anderson said, yields more effective care.
“It’s really about collaboration and multidisciplinary, human-centered care that’s really personalized,” she said.
It’s the kind of care that foundation officials believe is crucial in the fight against breast cancer. It was the most common cancer among women between 1976 and 2012 in Los Angeles County, according to a recent report by the Los Angeles Cancer Surveillance Program, which is a project of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and the university’s Keck School of Medicine.
Breast cancer rates are now declining or steady in most ethnic groups here, according to the report, but risk factors remain.
“Breast cancer risk is higher among women with a family history of the disease, suggesting that genetic factors are important for some women,” the report reads. “Regular physical activity, which may delay puberty and regular periods and reduce obesity, reduces breast cancer risk.”
Physical activity is exactly what participants will get at the Kickin’ Cancer 5k, which over the years has grown from a small gathering of friends and families into a major fundraiser with thousands of runners, walkers and supporters. The 5k has raised more than $3 million since its inception.
“The best part about this event is I don’t know that many people anymore,” said Cohen Epstein, who is the executive director of the foundation. “It’s all these people who are really there for the cause.”
It’s a personal cause for Cohen Epstein, who left Duke University and started taking classes at UCLA so she could be closer to her family after her mother died in 1998. She has since lived in New York, Washington D.C., and Abu Dhabi, but she and her husband moved to their current home on 10th Street in Santa Monica a few years ago and hope to stay for a long time.
Cohen Epstein’s wants to keep expanding the Kickin’ Cancer fundraiser because she feels her mother’s legacy is at stake.
“Of all the events we do, it’s the one that is most like my mom,” she said. “Kickin’ Cancer is a day full of family and health and wellness and sunshine and life and exercise. It’s really what signifies her.”
The Kickin’ Cancer event hub will be located at 11620 San Vicente Blvd., in Brentwood. The expo opens at 6:30 a.m., the 5k starts at 8 a.m. and the Kiddie Fun Run begins at 9:30 a.m.
To register, or for more information, visit kickincancer.com.