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Robin Babbini was an honor roll student, an overachiever and prom queen. When she was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer at the age of 17, she and her family were devastated. She valiantly fought the disease with aspirations of becoming a fashion editor for four years but passed away on June 29, 2006.
Her mother, Paulinda Babbini, has created the Ovarian Cancer Circle Inspired by Robin Babbini, a non-profit group formed in her daughter’s memory, that will be hosting the first annual “Dance to the Decades” fundraiser on Sunday, March 20 at the House of Blues’ Foundation Room, featuring dancing to music from the late ‘50s to the ‘80s.
Dedicated to working in her daughter’s name, Paulinda’s thoughts never stray far from Robin, a former cheerleader and student body president. Born at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 1986, Robin attended Pilgrim School and Pacific Hills High School in West Hollywood, before attending the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) where she was a member of national sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma, as well as co-captain of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, which she founded.
Originally misdiagnosed, Robin’s gynecologist told the family she was just a young woman adjusting to womanhood.
“If we had known the symptoms at sixteen when she started complaining…” Paulinda said before trailing off. “But I just shrugged it off because she could get up and go to school and get involved, it wasn’t like she was lying in bed. We didn’t take it seriously enough.”
As a senior in high school, Robin was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, yet she never gave up.
“She was very motivated, in fact, when she got sick she kept up with her school work and became the prom queen, and she was in the middle of her chemo treatment at that time,” Paulinda said.
Robin also volunteered for the City of West Hollywood’s Tiny Tots program as a summer counselor, where she made such an impact that the city offered to co-sponsor the “Dance to the Decades” fundraiser.
“Women’s health is an issue the city talks about, and when Paulinda came to talk to us, we decided to help get her non-profit off the ground,” said Fran Solomon, deputy to West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman.
Noting that March is Women’s History Month, the magnitude of the event is not lost on Solomon.
“Robin was a nice young woman, very dedicated, who loved children and died way too young,” Solomon said. “It will honor her memory and all the other women we’ve lost who didn’t have enough education on ovarian cancer. Even if we only save one or two women, it would be enough of an honor in Robin’s name.”
Symptoms that women should be aware of include cramping, bloating, constipation, shortness of breath, unexplained weight gain or loss, and nausea. Paulinda stresses that early detection is key and urges women to request a pelvic/rectal exam, a transvaginal sonogram, and a CA 125 blood test to rule out the possibility of ovarian cancer.
“Know the symptoms and educate yourself so when you go to the gynecologist you can be very proactive about your health,” Paulinda said. “If people know the symptoms and know what to ask doctors, they have a better chance of surviving it than we did.”
Whereas most children are inspired by their parents and often think of them as their role models, Paulinda finds her strength from Robin, who she calls her hero.
“When Robin got sick she said we have to get involved and educate people. It was her motivation and inspiration that made me get involved. And that gave me a lot of satisfaction to talk to other women. Robin is my strength. I couldn’t just let her die and not do anything about it.”
Scheduled to speak before students at Cal State Northridge next month, Paulinda is determined to educate people about ovarian cancer.
“My fight is for all our sisters but my inspiration belongs to Robin,” Paulinda said.
The “Dance to the Decades” fundraiser will take place on Sunday, March 20 from 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. at the House of Blues’ Foundation Room, 8430 Sunset Blvd. Tickets are $50 and will include complimentary food from Whole Foods, Sebastiani Wine, and silent auction including one night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, a $500 gift certificate for service from Lexus, and box seats to a UCSB polo game. For tax deductible tickets, call (323)842-8100 or visit www.theovariancancercircle.org.
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