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SU2C Co-Founder Noreen Fraser (1953 – 2017)

Posted on March 28, 2017, 2:00 PM

Stand Up To Cancer Co-Founder Noreen Fraser died of breast cancer yesterday. She was 63 years old. Our hearts go out to Noreen’s husband Woody; their children, Madeline and Mack; and Noreen’s parents and eight siblings. Diagnosed in 2001, Noreen bravely battled Stage IV metastatic breast cancer for many years.


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A prolific television producer who worked on programs ranging from Entertainment Tonight to ABC’s Home Show, Noreen teamed up with colleagues, RSA Co-Founders Rusty Robertson and Sue Schwartz, to establish the Noreen Fraser Foundation in 2006. NFF’s mission was to raise money and awareness for women’s cancer research. Noreen developed a concept for a televised event that would raise funds for breast cancer research.  She often saw the late film producer Laura Ziskin in the infusion suite at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center where they were both receiving treatment.  They were patients of the same oncologist, and Noreen asked him to introduce them. The four women worked together – with Noreen’s husband Woody—on the plan for the televised event, which was originally set to air on cable.

They soon joined forces with another group pursuing the idea of a “roadblock” fundraising special to be broadcast simultaneously on the major television networks: Journalist and Cancer Advocate Katie Couric, Former Paramount Studio Chief Sherry Lansing, Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) President & CEO Lisa Paulsen and Chief Communications Officer Kathleen Lobb, and Non-Profit Executive Ellen Ziffren. With these nine women as co-founders, Stand Up To Cancer launched in May of 2008.  The first SU2C “roadblock” special aired on ABC, CBS and NBC in September of that year, with more than $100 million pledged to support research on all cancer types done by Dream Teams of scientists. The Stand Up To Cancer telecast has aired biennially since then. In 2016, more than 60 broadcast and cable networks and streaming services across the United States and Canada donated the time to air the commercial-free program.

Noreen stepped away from her day-to-day role with Stand Up To Cancer in 2010 to focus on the work of the Noreen Fraser Foundation. She created the Men for Women Now initiative using comedy to create awareness about early detection. Another key project was a collaboration with Variety, the entertainment industry trade publication. Variety’s Power of Comedy annual event brings together A-list comedians for a night of stand-up comedy, highlighting the healing power of laughter.

Noreen once said, “I have made cancer my business.”  Living with the disease for 16 years, she tirelessly channeled her personal experience—that long, difficult fight—into a movement that helps others. We pledge to continue to Stand Up, for Noreen, and for everyone touched by cancer, until cancer is no more. 


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