Charlotte Brosnan lost her battle with ovarian cancer - the same cancer that killed her mother. She was 42.
Ovarian cancer detection has come a long way in recent years, thanks in large part to the efforts of a Seattle oncologist who knows personally the power of genetics and genetic testing.
Dr. Saul Rivkin operates under one very basic life principle-- that knowledge is power. Assuming that's true, Rivkin is growing more powerful by the day.
We all are, actually. Thanks to breakthrough research on ovarian cancer.
"We have better treatment now, better surgery now, everything's better," said Rivkin.
Everything is better, after he and family faced the worst.
"It was very hard for me to see my wife die."
Rivkin's wife Marsha and mother of five succumbed to ovarian cancer in 1993. She was only 49. So for Dr. Rivkin, this fight is personal: "I don't want my daughters to go through the same tragedy my wife did. If we can find ovarian cancer early it's wonderful, it's curable."
So Rivkin opened the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research. And when genetic testing became available, he tested all five of his daughters, including oldest daughter, Melissa.
"In the back of my mind I guess I always expected I'd be positive with the gene," said 46-year-old Melissa Rivkin.
She was right.
"Personally, I would rather know and be able to do something then not know," said Melissa.
Melissa decided to have her ovaries removed and a hysterectomy. Part of a family with all the hallmarks of one true Hollywood story. But Pierce Brosnan's family loss may mean our gain-- in insight and understanding of a disease still shrouded in mystery.
The Marsha Rivkin Center offers an early detection screeing program. The purpose is to determine if CA-125 blood tesst and annual ovarian ultrasounds can detect the cancer early. Participation is free.
To learn more: www.marsharivkin.org.