Laughter is a key component in Jane Ford-Petrin's life. In 1970, "farm gal" Jane and her twin sister Jean left Indiana and headed west to San Francisco. The twins debated whether to open a casserole store or makeup shop to earn a living. A simple coin toss decided their future. Makeup store it was.
On July 16, 1976, Jane and Jean opened Benefit Cosmetics, chock-full of "corn-fed" humor and a product line called "fake-its." Benefit's success continues on this promise: "Laughter is the best cosmetic. So grin and wear it!"
But on Dec. 20, 2013, all the grins and laughter nearly went out of Jane's life. She had been experiencing excruciating pain, what she, her husband and doctor believed to be pneumonia. A CT scan proved different. Jane was diagnosed with lung cancer and was found to have a mutation of the KRAS gene, commonly known to lead to the disease. In early 2014, she underwent surgery at MD Anderson by Reza Mehran, M.D., professor, Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.
"We are overwhelmed in gratitude. Thank you, thank you to all the staff and doctors at MD Anderson. Each of you has played a huge role in giving us a second shot. Now, we are determined to help others receive their own 'second shot'," says Jane.
Her husband, Chris Petrin, adds: "We knew the second we stepped inside these doors that we had made the right choice to come here."
The couple recently contributed $1 million to the Lung Cancer Moon Shot's KRAS research effort. Their donation has helped researchers identify three subsets of lung cancer with KRAS gene mutations, opening up new approaches for treating lung adenocarcinoma.
"The development of more effective treatments for lung cancers bearing KRAS mutations has been hampered by their biological diversity," says John Heymach, M.D., Ph.D., chair of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology. "Thanks to Jane and Chris' generous gift, we are better equipped to deal with these tumors and closer to finding a cure."
As for Jane and Chris? Laughter and grins continue their return.