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Foundation honors women who lost battle with breast cancer

Marcie Westermeyer with her daughte,r Katie.
Marcie Westermeyer with her daughte,r Katie. (Courtesy photo)

When thinking of a way to honor one of her close friends and also her younger sister, both of whom had lost their battle with breast cancer, Cathy Byrne's most logical choice was to throw a party.

Her friend Ellen Ervin loved to host parties at her home, and an aspect of Byrne's sister Marcie Westermeyer's job with the government was to plan events for the Navy.

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After the inaugural benefit dinner last year, which raised $17,000, the Marcie and Ellen Foundation — a nonprofit focused on raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research — will host their second annual benefit dinner Oct. 24 at The Gathering Place in Clarksville.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Breast Cancer Therapeutics Laboratory at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, where Ervin had been treated.

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Led by Dr. Ben Ho Park, the lab focuses on finding cures for breast cancer by "exploiting genetic changes involved with breast cancer initiation and progression, as well as genetic changes leading to drug resistance," according to the foundation's website.

The Marcie and Ellen Foundation, formed just last year, was started in memory of Ervin and Westermyer, two Howard County women who lost their battle with breast cancer.

Westermeyer was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2005 and died a year later on Oct. 1, 2006. She was 43.

Byrne described her sister as a "hard-worker."

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"She has two children who have turned into wonderful young ladies," she said.

Ervin was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2009 and received chemotherapy, underwent a bilateral mastectomy and radiation treatment. On Nov. 9, 2012, Ervin lost her battle with cancer. She was 51.

Ervin, who worked as an office manager for a local doctor, had two daughters and a son and was a genuinely welcoming, generous person who "loved to have people over," Byrne said.

"She loved to have parties at her house," she said.

The foundation also stages restaurant fundraisers throughout the year, but this is its major event, according to Kevin Hiden, Ervin's brother-in-law.

Hiden described the dinner as a way to honor Ervin and Westermeyer while giving back to these families.

Last year's event drew about 180 guests and went "exceptionally well," according to Byrne.

The goal is to continue growing the event making it a bigger every year.

"Our goal is to actually, next year, move to a larger facility that we can hopefully fill," she said.

Tickets are $85 and can be purchased online at marcieandellen.org.

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