A Labor of Love


Corbera Rebecca, Nilsson Alexandra
Alexandra Nilsson, (right) and Rebecca Corbera

Ruth Corbera was introduced to the San Fernando Valley (SFV) Guild in 1997 by a friend, and after seeing the comradery and deep commitment to supporting cancer breakthroughs at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, she quickly joined. The Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation (JCCF) is the fundraising arm of the Jonsson Cancer Center, and supports leading-edge cancer research at UCLA.

Ruth’s daughters, Alexandra Nilsson and Rebecca Corbera, said she helped at every event and was known for making extravagant decorations for the holiday fundraiser.

“She had a fiery attitude, was very creative and passionate about this organization,” Rebecca said.

In 2011, Ruth was diagnosed with late-stage acute lymphoblastic leukemia and she immediately began treatment at UCLA. But just two months after her initial diagnosis, the 54-year-old lost her battle to the disease.

“Our mother received the best care possible at UCLA and her oncologist treated the cancer aggressively,” Alexandra said. “Unfortunately the cancer was too advanced and she was unable to fight the disease.”

Ruth Corbera and her daughters

As a tribute to their mother, Alexandra and Rebecca decided to continue her philanthropic work and not only join the guild but help run it. Newly elected as president and vice president, they began to recruit younger members so they too would be educated about the importance of fundraising for a cause that is likely to impact their lives.

“We always spent time helping my mom at the guild events,” said Rebecca. “After she passed we felt it was a great way to honor her and to really educate ourselves on finding ways to help raise funds for cancer research.” The guild had 43 members and was formed more than 60 years ago. It raised more than $865,000, which has helped fund seed grants and other programs at the JCCF.

Seed grants are vital to the cancer center's ongoing leadership in the field of cancer research. They illustrate the very real impact that benefactors can have on the cancer center's mission. If the data from the scientist’s research bears out their theories, they stand a good chance of obtaining long-term federal or foundation funding to continue their work and translate it into improved therapies.

San Fernando Valley Guild members

“After seeing our mother and twelve of our members lose their lives to cancer, we understand why a cure is desperately needed to stop this horrible disease from taking another life,” Rebecca said.

The Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation is immensely grateful for the incredible amount of awareness and funds the San Fernanado Valley Guild chapter raised over more than 60 years of devoted effort. While it became necessary for the chapter to close in 2017, the Guild's partnership in accelerating cancer research has brought hope to patients facing cancer and their families, everywhere.

The Conejo Valley Guild Chapter is still active and welcoming new members. For more information and to join their efforts to fund life-changing cancer research at the JCCC, please contact Isa Brente-Shekter or Margarita Horowitz (Co-Presidents) at (805) 480-2492.