From the Sacramento Bee:
Foundation still quietly fighting prostate cancer By Walt Wiley -- Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PST Friday, January 7, 2005
All through the 1990s, the Robert J. Mathews Foundation for Prostate Cancer Research was in the news frequently when the men's disease was discussed. But all that stopped in 2002. Mary Lou Wright, CEO of the Sacramento-based foundation, died that year, and the foundation stopped too. The office closed. The telephone was disconnected. The Mathews Foundation Web site disappeared. The secretary of state's office listed the foundation as inactive. But reports of the foundation's death were grossly exaggerated.
"The foundation has gone quiet, but we're still here," said Susie Mathews, widow of Robert J. Mathews. "And we're going to continue supporting the research." Her dedication in the battle against prostate cancer surgery is as strong as ever, she said. The foundation is inactive because there has been no one to keep it going, but Mathews is not about to do away with it, she said. She recently contributed $1 million through the Mathews Foundation to boost the UC Davis Medical Center's Cancer Center. Prostate cancer, according to Us Too, a national prostate support organization, strikes as many men (and causes almost as many deaths annually) as breast cancer does women but lacks the national awareness and research funding that breast cancer currently receives. Mathews is trying to change that by increasing the effort against prostate cancer. Her husband, founder of CableData (now DST Innovis and DST Output), died of prostate cancer in 1987 at age 49. A year later, she founded the Mathews Foundation, which the next year gave $100,000 to UC Davis Medical Center for prostate cancer research.
"There's some great symmetry here with this recent (million-dollar) gift, because her first gift was the first major gift for the prostate program," said Tom Venturino, chief fund-raiser for the UCD Cancer Center. In the intervening years, the prostate program has moved up to the front rank of such operations, he said, now operating with 25 scientists and $4 million in grant funding. It all is part of the UCD Cancer Center, one of 60 hospital programs nationwide that have been designated as cancer centers by the National Cancer Institute. The prostate program is conducting studies at a variety of levels, Venturino said, from clinical trials with patients to studies at the cell level and several stages in between. The center has big plans, he said. A campaign under way now seeks to raise $30 million that would pay for endowments, clinical expansion and a dedicated cancer research building. Mathews is on the steering committee for the campaign, which is chaired by Jim Otto, the former Oakland Raiders center. The Hall of Fame football player is a prostate cancer survivor who received treatment at the UCD Cancer Center. Otto has raised more than $500,000 for the center since 2001 with his annual Swing at Cancer Celebrity Golf Tournament in Auburn. Mathews isn't through raising funds, either. Her husband was a computer programming pioneer who knew thousands of people in the industry and had hundreds of loyal employees and former employees, she said.
She has sold her interest in the company and moved on to found InfoMatrix, a software and business consulting firm, but she has kept the contacts she made through her husband. She plans to lobby them, gently. "Sometime in the spring of 2006 we'll have a big party for all the people who knew Bob," she said. "It'll be a great way to get a bunch of people back together who haven't seen each other in a long time. "It'll be a reunion - and a fund-raiser."
About the writer: • The Bee's Walt Wiley can be reached at (916) 321-1063 or firstname.lastname@example.org. - | Sacramento.com Copyright © The Sacramento Bee