Posts Tagged ‘lowcountry women with wings’

Rosalind Elise Franklin

September 6, 2013

July 25, 1920- April 16, 1958
Biophysicist and a Pioneer Molecular Biologist

rosalindRosalind Franklin was not only a pioneer for women in modern science, but she is also responsible for the research done that discovered the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Franklin attended one of the only girls’ schools in London that offered physics and chemistry. By 15, she knew she wanted to become a scientist. Franklin’s father disproved of university education for women, and wished for Franklin to pursue social work, therefore refusing to pay for her education if it meant her pursuing the sciences. With the support of her aunt and mother, she attended Newnham College and graduated in 1941. By 1945, at the age of 26, she earned her doctorate in physical chemistry from Cambridge University.

Franklin became a research associate in physicist John Randall’s laboratory at King’s College, and was given the responsibility of a DNA project by Randall that she would lead. Many male colleagues mistook her position as just a technical assistant, and dismissed her contributions, mainly on the fact that she was a woman. Between 1951 and 1953, Franklin came very close to discovering the DNA structure, but the scientists Crick and Watson beat her to publication, and therefore are credited by most for the discovery of the DNA molecule structure. Many say that Franklin deserved more credit for her contributions, and that her being a woman in a male-dominated field and working in a hostile environment towards women, kept her from achieving the praise she was and is due for.

In the summer of 1956, she became ill with ovarian cancer. She continued her work through three operations and experimental chemotherapy, and passed at the age of 37 from the cancer.

Sources:
http://www.sdsc.edu/ScienceWomen/franklin.html
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aso/databank/entries/bofran.html
http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/07/25/google-doodle-celebrates-rosalind-franklin

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lwwwSeptember is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Every year, 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and nearly 70% of these women, including Rosalind Franklin, die within five years of their diagnoses. The Lowcountry Women with Wings (LWWW) program was established by Terry Scharstein, an ovarian cancer patient, in partnership with the Center for Women. LWWW provides education and support services to women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, their caregivers and families.

LWWW is one of the charities participating in Second Sunday on King Street this Sunday, September 8.  Come by for a teal wristband to help break the silence about Ovarian Cancer!

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In Memory of Kimberlee Shonk

October 7, 2011

Last January Kimberlee Shonk, age 20, died as a result of ovarian cancer.  She was a College of Charleston student, a biology major with a 3.7 GPA and with plans to attend medical school.   Kimberlee attended Wando High School and was a proud member of the Wando Marching Band.  She was an intelligent, articulate, beautiful young woman with a great sense of humor.  Recently her college friends sent me their recollections of Kimberlee —

  • She taught me so much about living and how to enjoy life.
  • Seeing her walk down a busy street;   it was like the sea parted for her with her beautiful long blond hair and flowing skirt.
  • She coined the word “Swooztastic” to define the joys of life.
  • She never lived in fear of dying.

Although we were separated by 40 years in age, we were sisters in ovarian cancer.  Sitting in my office with our bald heads we compared notes on chemotherapy and talked about the lack of a reliable test to detect ovarian cancer.    Both of us wondered how we could have had an earlier diagnosis.   What symptoms did we ignore?   What should we have done differently?  Kimberlee was diagnosed with a rare aggressive cancer in the spring of 2009.  I was diagnosed with stage III peritoneal  ovarian cancer at the same time.   Each year, over 20,000 women are diagnosed  and about 15,000 women die as a result of ovarian cancer.   The symptoms:  bloating, abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and urinary frequency or urgency, are common and often ignored.   Kimberlee sent me an email last September 2010 as we were preparing events for Ovarian Cancer month.  She included her symptoms, bloating and pain in the abdomen, in hopes that by sharing them she would encourage other women to pay attention and “listen to their bodies.”

Ovarian Cancer occurs more often in older women; however, it can attack women of all ages.   For this reason, the Center for Women’s  Lowcountry Women With Wings organization in conjunction with the School of Education, Health, and Human Performance at the College of Charleston hosted “Teal Day” at the College on September 30th, the last day of  Ovarian Cancer Month.   Teal is the color to recognize ovarian cancer awareness and all students, faculty and staff were encouraged to wear teal not only to bring awareness of ovarian cancer, but,  most importantly,  in memory of Kimberlee Shonk, a member of the College of Charleston family. “Teal Day” included distribution of ovarian cancer information and a “Breaking the Silence” event at 11:55 am in the Cougar Mall.

Another awareness event was held at the MUSC horseshoe on Sept. 27 with the Pink Fire Trucks that travel the country promoting awareness about cancers that strike women. Lowcountry Women with Wings was there as well with a teal convertible!

The goal of Lowcountry Women with Wings is to Rise Above Ovarian Cancer by educating our community about the symptoms.  Kimberlee wanted to tell her story with the hope that she could encourage other young women to listen to their bodies, have regular check-ups and to attack this silent killer.

Sue Sommer-Kresse, PhD

Charleston, South Carolina

C4W Board Member Profile: Jennifer Young Pierce

February 9, 2011

Photo by Alice Keeney

What is your profession? Gynecologic Oncologist, MUSC faculty

What do you enjoy doing outside of your career? Cooking, gardening, running, spending time with my husband, playing with our two dogs, Norman and Ellie.

How long have you been a member of the Center for Women? 2 years

What inspired you to become a member? Jennet Robinson Alterman’s passion and determination. I first met her at the inaugural event for the Lowcountry Women with Wings program.

What kind of impact has the Center for Women had on you? I have so enjoyed meeting inspiring women in all different fields from all over the Lowcountry.  Together we can make a difference!

How has living day-to-day as a woman affected you? In my field, I work with women for women, but in a role traditionally held by men.  When women come to see me for the first time, they are often surprised to find themselves sitting across from a female physician. I find this is a real opportunity to connect with my patients and truly serve all of their needs and the needs of their families. I also enjoy educating women about their bodies and ways that they can protect themselves from cancer.  I believe being a woman, I can reach them on a different level.

What kind of message would you like to send out to women who are trying to succeed in today’s economy? Be yourself and do something that truly inspires you, even if it is after work!


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