Jill Bennett Endowed Professorship in Breast Cancer
Jill Bennett was a devoted advocate for breast cancer research, a woman who accomplished a great deal in her short 48 years. She battled breast cancer for 13 years, confronted her own mortality, partnered with many leaders to explore ways to educate the public about cancer and collaborated with key partners to accelerate the pace of cancer research.
To continue Jill’s inspiring quest to build scientific collaboration and to discover a cure for breast cancer, her family and friends established the Jill Bennett Endowed Professorship in Breast Cancer, a fund that will help UW Medicine recruit and retain pre-eminent breast cancer researchers. In time, they hope to add to the fund to create a $1 million endowment.
Jill was initially diagnosed at age 35, as her mother, Dot, was dying of cancer. After treatment, unfortunately, the cancer returned. At that time, Jill decided to move away from Boston and back to Seattle — both for the treatment options available here and to be closer to her family.
Under the care of Julie R. Gralow, M.D., Jill undertook numerous chemotherapy and radiation treatments, as well as a stem cell transplant, which improved her quality of life for a number of years. But Jill wasn’t only a patient; she also became a cancer advocate. Jill served on the board of directors of Cancer Lifeline.
She also founded and directed Northwest Cancer Partners, a nonprofit whose mission was to help accelerate promising discoveries into clinical trials. Northwest Cancer Partners invested in three pivotal projects as recommended by their scientific advisory committee.
In addition, Jill initiated the Mary Gates Lectureship Series, which paid tribute to a dear friend who died of breast cancer. This annual event, which ended after Jill’s death, brought together physicians, researchers and cancer survivors, and it launched three research projects. The creation of the Jill Bennett Endowed Lectureship in Breast Cancer, a second fund established by Jill’s family and friends, will revive and continue the legacy of this influential lectureship.
Both these endowments will support the search for a cure to breast cancer, and searching for a cure was very important to Jill. “Without hope, life is not worth living,” she said.
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