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The one hundred honoree: Robert and Lynn von der Luft

Donor Story

The one hundred honoree: Robert and Lynn von der Luft

Mass General Giving

Robert and Lynn von der Luft are major contributors to ovarian cancer research. Their contributions were inspired by the outstanding treatment and care that their daughter, Christa (pictured here), received at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and the expectation that research could lead to early diagnosis of ovarian cancer. No screening test yet exists for ovarian cancer, the fifth-leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States and the most lethal cancer of the female reproductive system.

Christa was diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer in 2006 shortly after riding in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC) 190-mile bike ride which raises money for cancer research. She was expertly and compassionately treated by her surgeon, Dr. Marcela Del Carmen, and her oncologist, Dr Carolyn Krasner, along with a host of other medical professionals at Mass General. Christa’s surgeries and treatments lasted about nine months, which included her proactive participation in promising, innovative clinical trials. Christa rode in the PMC the two years following her treatment with four other family members. Her picture (right) was taken with a large group of other participating PMC cancer survivors, wearing shirts that say “Living Proof.” She continues to be a powerful speaker and contributor to cancer research as well.

The von der Lufts have provided critical support needed to recruit Michael Birrer, MD, PhD, to head the gynecologic oncology program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, one of four recipients of a prestigious National Cancer Institute Specialized Program of Research Excellence grant. A renowned researcher formerly at the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Birrer is a leader in ovarian cancer treatment and research, working to identify genetic tools to match patients with specific therapies.