A Breast Cancer Patient’s Concern is Now Making a Real Difference for Others

Photo by Bill Richert.

“You help me be the mom I want to be for my 2- and 4-year-olds.”

When Karen Dove Cabral was in treatment for breast cancer at Kellogg Cancer Center in Evanston, she told her mother, “We have to do something.” She realized there were many young mothers fighting breast cancer who were struggling to be the moms they needed to be to their young children, and really needed some help.

Karen Dove Cabral

Karen Dove Cabral

During treatment, she met a number of breast cancer patients, mothers like herself, who didn’t have family nearby or the financial resources for child care and transportation. They could not afford an exercise class or acupuncture to deal with the pain and nausea of chemotherapy. Karen and her family learned, as all patients do, that there are vital therapies, critical services, and recommended medications that are not covered by insurance plans.

Karen felt that several of these out-of-pocket supplements to her treatment, combined with help from family, had a significantly beneficial effect on her well-being, giving her more upbeat and healthy days. More days when she felt strong and capable, so life was closer to normal for her kids and her work outside the home. She and her family also thought that it helped extend her life by years.

Kathleen Dove, Karen’s mother, says, “Karen managed her disease with strength, courage, grace, and humor. She was able to be present and live each day to the fullest. She wanted that for other women.”

Karen was 36 when she died in 2007. She is survived by her two sons and husband, Ed Cabral, as well as her parents and her sister. Remembering that Karen said, “We have to do something,” her family and friends established The Karen Dove Cabral Foundation to address these very consequential unmet needs.

Karen Dove Cabral Foundation: family

Karen Dove Cabral and family

The foundation partners with NorthShore University HealthSystem to identify patients with financial constraints and provide direct support to fill gaps in the circle of support that every patient needs. Scores of patient responses confirm the value of the foundation’s mission:

  • “You help me be the mom I want to be for my 2- and 4-year-olds.”
  • “I have much more energy than I expected.”
  • “You helped me shoulder a flood of medical expenses.”
  • “I can better manage chemo side effects, thanks to you.”
  • “This help was a lifesaver for me.”

Come Out to a Country Setting for the Cause

On Sunday, Oct. 15, the Karen Dove Cabral Foundation will hold its 9th annual Butterfly Benefit at historic Elawa Farm in Lake Forest, hosted by TV anchor and journalist Eddie Arruza. The event will feature live music, mouth-watering farm-to-table food crafted by 5-star Chef Steve Chiappetti, a Wildlife Center tour for the kids, a live auction, and raffle tables. More than 95 percent of funds raised by these events go directly to the foundation’s mission: “Improving quality of life for young mothers with breast cancer.”

Karen Dove Cabral Foundation: Five-star Chef Steve Chiappetti and foundation Executive Director Kathleen Dove address donors.

Five-star Chef Steve Chiappetti and foundation Executive Director Kathleen Dove address donors. (Photo by Bill Richert.)

Visit the foundation’s website for more information, to register for the event, or to make a donation.


The Karen Dove Cabral Foundation is grateful that Make It Better is stepping up again to be media sponsor for the Butterfly Benefit.