Charlie's Story

When Charlie was diagnosed with 4th stage melanoma, she was 25 years old and life couldn’t have been better. She had graduated three-and-a-half years before from Brown University, planning on going to medical school. She had decided to take off a year or two before devoting the next ten years of her life to the study of medicine. She wound up on Wall Street, and the girl who didn’t know a stock from a bond was promoted to managing analyst just 2 months before she became ill.

Charlie was a bundle of contradictions: a fan of the opera (she had seen Madame Butterfly 22 times) and hip hop as well; foreign films and chick flicks; salmon in puff pastry and oreos. She could light up a room with her smile and her zest for life; she could pack 26 hours into a 24-hour day.

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Charlie had always been involved in good works and causes. Whether volunteering at San Quentin, mentoring high school students, touring the concentration camps with a youth group and then giving lectures on genocide, or fighting for East Timor independence, no issue was too large or too small; no cause not worth fighting the good fight.

And so it came as a surprise to no one who knew her, that soon after being diagnosed, Charlie announced that this had to have happened to her for a reason. As the months went by the reason became clear to her; she needed to make a difference, to somehow fight this terrible disease.

Charlie was never given that opportunity. She died on Nov. 24, 2003, eight months after her initial diagnosis. In her memory, and the memory of all those others whose future has been taken away by this horrible disease, we will make a difference.