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A Broadway-style production of celebrity duets, benefiting Cedars-Sinai's
breast cancer research and education programs at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute

The What a Pair! Story

My mother was 34 years old when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. I was five. Nineteen years later, my sister received the same diagnosis. She was 25. By then, I was an executive in the film industry. While other people were struggling against an insidious disease, we were simply making movies. In light of the health issues plaguing my family, I began to feel like that was not a terribly significant pursuit, and I decided to do something meaningful to celebrate my mother’s and sister’s fighting spirits.

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Growing up, the three of us shared a love of musical theater. This passion became the force that bound us. My sister and I performed in countless musicals and my mother kept a mental list of the great show-stopping duets from each. I dreamed that I would honor her by stringing the songs together in a fabulous cabaret. In 2001, I enlisted my friends and fellow producers Jody Price and Ruth Stalford to help realize this vision. A year later, What A Pair! debuted as a Broadway-caliber production. One hundred percent of net proceeds from the benefit concert went to breast cancer research — and, in spite of the fact that her cancer had spread, my sister was there.

The benefit was an unqualified success, but the philanthropy it generated could not stop my sister from deteriorating. Six months later, as she lay dying, my family and I joined her to watch a video of “Singin’ in the Rain.” As Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor sang “Moses Supposes,” a smile spread across her face, and she said, “This would be a good one.” I described the moment to Jody and Ruth, and we all agreed that it was her charge to us to continue producing What A Pair! and, in the process, to continue her fight against breast cancer and to keep her spirit alive.

What better way to do it than by joining forces with the breast cancer research and education programs at the Cedars-Sinai Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute? One of the nation’s preeminent leaders in next-generation breast cancer research and cutting-edge care, Cedars-Sinai is making a difference for women and their families in our community and beyond. And that would have been something for my mother and sister to sing about.

Jo Levi DiSante, Producer

The Breast Cancer Research and Education Programs at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute

The strongest and most successful duets weave complementary voices together — and, in partnership, What A Pair! and Cedars-Sinai hit all the right notes. One is a collaboration of world-class performing artists focused on supporting revolutionary medicine; the other is a global force in medical innovation, working at the forefront of research and clinical care to pioneer discoveries and save patients’ lives.

Cedars-Sinai is breaking ground with a comprehensive approach to breast cancer research and education by focusing on targeted strategies for prevention, diagnosis, risk assessment, and treatment of breast cancer. Together, physicians and scientists collaborate to pursue translational research that promotes discovery and saves lives. Additionally, they come together to educate the next generation of breast care professionals. Funds raised by What A Pair! have led to less invasive breast surgery, a reduction in side effects, breast-conserving techniques, improvement in patients’ quality of life as well as identification of targeted genes to more effectively fight the most aggressive and difficult-to-treat cancers. The clinical home for breast cancer care at Cedars-Sinai is the Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center—A Project of Women’s Guild, co-directed by Armando E. Giuliano, MD, and Edward H. Phillips, MD.