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The one hundred honoree: Jim Coghlin Sr. and 15-40 Connection

Hospital News

The one hundred honoree: Jim Coghlin Sr. and 15-40 Connection

Mass General Giving

It was friendship that started the journey that led to the founding of the 15-40 Connection. Jim Coghlin Sr.’s close friend, Mark Ungerer, founded the inaugural Central Massachusetts Jimmy Fund Golf Tournament in honor of his son David, who lost his life to leukemia at age 15. In a cruel turn of fate, Mark himself was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 1995.

At Mark’s request, Jim took over the organization of the golf tournament. In 2005, on the tenth anniversary of Mark’s passing, Jim decided to establish a fellowship in Mark’s name as a lasting tribute to his friend. He determined that the support should be focused on addressing a problem that needed attention but was receiving little: improving cancer survival rates for teens and young adults, aged 15-40. Jim found that survival rates were not keeping pace with other age groups and, more alarmingly, survival rates in this age group had barely improved since 1975. When Jim learned that delayed diagnosis was a key factor in this problem, he founded the 15-40 Connection to ensure that young people would be empowered with knowledge to help them detect cancer in its early stages.

Today, the 15-40 Connection is an emerging national organization championing early cancer detection by starting a new cancer conversation that begins with the question, “Would you recognize a cancer symptom?” Educational programs at high schools, colleges, corporate environments and on social media provide a frame of reference for what cancer symptoms can look or feel like and illustrate through real life examples the way cancer symptoms can creep into your life. The organization is also focused on teaching young adults when to seek medical attention and how to advocate for their health.