There are often too few stories to share about extraordinary teens and their families. But here’s one that pays tribute to the indomitable spirit and courage of a Mother and daughter.
In 2004 an always smiling, radiant West Hollywood 17 year old teenager, Robin Babbini, was an Honor Student at Pacific Hills High School. Beyond her studies, Robin packed her calendar with dozens of activities and volunteer work: She was a counselor with West Hollywood's recreation program, co-captain of the cheerleading team, dramatic arts student and homecoming queen.
Suddenly this young girl's life took a devastating turn when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. She was so young doctors never contemplated anything as grave as ovarian cancer - this cancer usually strikes women over 55 years old - but after a myriad of tests and increasingly debilitating symptoms, Robin underwent a complete hysterectomy. "A full year passed from her earliest symptoms - missed signals, misunderstood symptoms - to rushing Robin to the Emergency Room," her mother Paulinda recalled. "Finally a CT scan signaled that something was terribly wrong. And it was only surgery that could tell us the terrible truth." For Robin, ever the optimist, her illness became the ultimate challenge of her young life. She tackled the disease with grit and determination. Once recovered from the surgery, she endured a rigorous round of chemotherapy treatment while completing her Senior year of classes at Pacific Hills High School. Robin graduated and with great fortitude enrolled as a Freshman at UC Santa Barbara and joined the national sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Six months later, symptoms of the cancer recurred. A second operation revealed that the cancer had metastasized into surrounding vital organs. Again Robin began grueling, exhausting tests and treatments. While she struggled to attend classes and keep current with her studies, Robin valiantly participated that year as Co-Captain at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life at UCSB. Although weakened by her grave illness, Robin spoke poignantly that day about her disease, the desperate need to be aware of early warning symptoms, and the urgent need for research and early detection screening. Only six weeks later, on June 29, 2006, Robin Babbini lost her battle with ovarian cancer. She was 20 years old.
In Robin's honor, Pacific Hills High School continues to give the 'Robin Babbini Outstanding Senior Award to two deserving seniors each year and The Circle awards The Outstanding Community Achievement Award to a member of her beloved sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma.
For Paulinda Babbini, the traumatic loss of her daughter needed to be turned into something meaningful, a commitment to carry the light of her daughter's life forward and to honor her memory.
Today, Paulinda is the Founder and President of The Ovarian Cancer Circle/Inspired By Robin Babbini, a nonprofit organization dedicated to help educate women of all ages about ovarian cancer. "My focus for starting The Circle has been to educate and heighten awareness to the signs and symptoms of this cancer," says Paulinda, and to raise funds for an early detection test which does not yet exist. So many lives are saved by mammograms, Pap smears and PSA tests. But ovarian cancer is a stealth cancer, almost hidden, with few, and random, symptoms.” They are abdominal pressure, bloating, nausea, indigestion, feeling full but eating less, urinary frequency and constipation, she said. “Knowledge is critically important. I encourage women to pay attention to their bodies, know the symptoms and go to the gynecologist.
“Robin is my inspiration and strength to work hard," says Paulinda. "Her spirit inspires me to stay focused and with steadfast determination make a difference."
Here’s a chance for everyone to help this cause: Continuing our mission to
raise funds, the nationally renowned Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Woodland
Hills will sponsor a charity luncheon, “Take A Bite Out of Ovarian Cancer” on
February 21st at 11:30am. All proceeds will go to the prestigious UCLA Ovarian
Cancer Research Department. Tickets are $40.00 including a raffle ticket.
To buy tickets and for more information, go to www.theovariancancercircle.org
or call 323.842.8100