Dr. Manny: Remembering my friend Noreen Fraser

Noreen Fraser, co-founder of Stand Up to Cancer and renowned TV producer, has died at age 63. Noreen bravely fought incurable stage 4 metastatic breast cancer for 16 years and was a contributor for Fox News Health during some of her toughest days. I will not only remember Noreen as a champion and crusader for patients battling all types of cancer, but also as a treasured friend.

Noreen fought tirelessly for early detection and awareness, and believed fiercely that patients should be proactive in their own treatment and care. While her fundraising efforts have undoubtedly changed outcomes for patients worldwide, her unique mark on the medical world will be what she did to open the lines of communication between physicians and researchers.

Noreen believed that regardless of discipline, all professionals in the medical field should work together toward one common goal — to get patients quality cancer care faster. To help spearhead those efforts, in 2006 she founded the Noreen Fraser Foundation, which helped bring more treatments to patients in a timely fashion. I had the pleasure of hosting her for several Fox News Health segments during which she excitedly shared all of the progress they were making. From the outside, it was easy to forget that she too was battling the disease.

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Her philosophy was to change the way we look at cancer, and to not think of a cancer diagnosis as a death sentence, but rather as a chronic illness that you could live with. She was determined to find a substitute for chemotherapy and was a firm believer in being both mentally and physically healthy, encouraging others to “laugh off cancer.”

Her columns, which were aptly dubbed “Staring Down Cancer,” were always written with fearless optimism, and I admired how frank she was with her readers. When she had good days, she let us know, and when she had bad days, she said so too, but even then there was hope on her horizon. My deepest sympathies go out to her husband, Woody, and her two children, as well as all who came to know and love Noreen as I did. It comforts me to know that Noreen died surrounded by loved ones in her home. She will forever be remembered for her inspiring spirit and the magic she brought with her wherever she went.