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The Breast Cancer Fund Sadly Announces the Death of Andrea R. Martin

For immediate release: August 6, 2003
Contact: Erin Malec, 415-346-8223 ext. 14

San Francisco, CA -- Andrea Ravinett Martin, founder and former executive director of The Breast Cancer Fund, has died following a two-year struggle with brain cancer. Ms. Martin, who was 57 years old, is survived by her daughter Mather Martin, husband Richard Gelernter, father Irwin Ravinett and stepmother Becky Ravinett.

"Andrea was a pioneering leader of the breast cancer movement and an inspiration to women and men around the world," said Jeanne Rizzo, executive director of The Breast Cancer Fund. "I cannot find the words to express the devastation felt by the staff, board and family of The Breast Cancer Fund in losing a leader of her courage, vision and warmth. There is no greater way to honor my dear friend than to carry forward her vision of ending breast cancer in our daughters' lifetime."

In 1992, following her second diagnosis of breast cancer, Ms. Martin founded The Breast Cancer Fund in her living room. As the executive director, she grew the organization from a fledging funding body to a national advocacy force with over 70,000 supporters. The Breast Cancer Fund is the only national breast cancer organization focused solely on prevention of the disease, with its mission to identify -- and advocate for elimination of -- the environmental causes of the disease.

After almost ten years at the organization's helm, Ms. Martin was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May 2001. She stepped down from her role as executive director in order to focus her time and energy on her health and family. Ms. Martin continued to serve as a member of the organization's Board of Directors while undergoing treatment for her brain cancer.

"I don't pretend to understand or have any answers for why I have faced cancer three times,-- said Ms. Martin at the time of her diagnosis. "But my devotion is focused on being able to react to whatever befalls me, good or bad, in a balanced, grateful, peaceful way."

Ms. Martin was a successful teacher, lawyer, restaurateur and political fund-raiser before her diagnosis of breast cancer at age 42. Born in New York City on June 1, 1946, she grew up in Memphis, Tennessee and graduated from Newcomb College of Tulane University in New Orleans. Ms. Martin earned a master's in French on a NDEA fellowship from Tufts University, and moved to San Francisco in 1969 to teach French at a high school. After graduating from University of California Hastings Law School in 1975, she joined the law firm of Crosby, Heafey, Roach and May.

In 1980, Ms. Martin left the practice to open a Memphis-style barbeque restaurant called Hog Heaven. Six years later, she sold the restaurant to focus on raising her daughter Mather. When Mather was only six years old, and less than a year after Ms. Martin had married her second husband, Richard, she was diagnosed with stage-three breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. Ms. Martin was told she had little chance of survival and was advised to put her affairs in order.

After a grueling year of treatment, Ms. Martin joined Dianne Feinstein's bid for the governorship of California and became a member of the finance team. When Feinstein narrowly lost the race and decided to seek a seat in the U.S. Senate, she appointed Ms. Martin Deputy Finance Director for Northern California. Two months into the campaign, Ms. Martin found a lump in her remaining breast. The first cancer caused fear in Ms. Martin. From the second cancer arose the anger and determination that led to the creation of The Breast Cancer Fund, which was only the second national nonprofit devoted to the disease.

Under Ms. Martin's leadership, the organization scored impressive legislative victories and funded cutting-edge research, patient support programs and outreach and education projects. The Breast Cancer Fund gained a reputation for innovative work including support for alternatives to mammography and research into the environmental contributors to breast cancer. To read more about the successes of the organization, please visit

Ms. Martin became known as a visionary women's health advocate, and she devoted herself tirelessly to the cause. In 1995, she joined 16 other breast cancer survivors in a successful climbing expedition on 23,000-foot Mount Aconcagua in the Argentine Andes. The climb generated international attention, and was followed by three other major mountain climbs up Alaska's Mt. McKinley, Mt. Fuji in Japan -- which Ms. Martin also climbed -- and Mt. Shasta, California to raise hope, awareness and funding for prevention of the disease. Her climbing feat, and the expeditions that continue, define Ms. Martin's spirit of determination and hope.

The Breast Cancer Fund is planning a public celebration of the life of Andrea Martin on Thursday, August 21 from 6 to 8 pm. It will be held at the Green Room of the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center at 401 Van Ness Avenue.

In lieu of flowers and gifts, the family requests that memorials be sent to The Breast Cancer Fund, 2107 O'Farrell Street, San Francisco, CA 94115. For more information, please call (866) 760-TBCF or visit


The Breast Cancer Fund is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to identify -- and advocate for elimination of -- the environmental and other preventable causes of the disease.