Mother and daughter united in fight against cancer

When Rita Worth’s daughter Kim Goldenberg was diagnosed in February 2004 with a very aggressive form of breast cancer at age 33, Worth was understandably devastated. She desperately wanted to help her daughter get better but felt helpless. Then she got a call to action.

“Right after Kim was diagnosed a good friend asked me to be on the board of the St Louis Breast Cancer Coalition (SLBCC). It was a very difficult time, and I knew I wanted to help fight for a cure,” remembers Worth, who refused to surrender to despair while her daughter suffered through surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.


Worth, who has five grandchildren, never imagined that five years later, she and her cancer-free daughter would be working tirelessly as co-presidents of SLBCC. Since their involvement with the organization, which is an affiliate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), they have embarked on an amazing journey together that has led them to lobby successfully for breast cancer research in Washington D.C. and join an ally of powerful women who play a key role in trying to eradicate breast cancer and reform health care. While directly helping her daughter, Worth also has brought hope to the approximately three million women in the United States who are living with breast cancer.

“I love working with my mom. She is awesome, and I couldn’t do this without her,” says Goldenberg. “We definitely have our own roles that we play, and we make a great team. She is the perfectionist and detail person when it comes to organizing daily stuff like membership, meetings, and follow-up on all e-mails and phone calls.

“As for me, I focus on the education and advocacy by staying updated on the science and health care issues on a daily basis,” adds Goldenberg, who has a degree in physical therapy from Washington University and works part-time as a physical therapist at West County Sports Fitness and Rehabilitation Center.

“When we go to D.C., we are (among) 10 to 12 St. Louis women, but we represent the population in Missouri and all women. We feel empowered there, like we have a true voice that defends the moral right for everyone to have guaranteed access to quality health care,” says Goldenberg. She credits the entire SLBCC board and past presidents for playing such a pivotal role in the whole process. “Without them we could not do our job.”

As a result of NBCC’s advocacy and strong bipartisan leadership on Capitol Hill, more than $2 billion has been invested in the creation of the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, which has changed the world of breast cancer research.

“What makes this program so unique is that it’s the educated consumer advocates and the breast cancer patients along with the medical professionals who are making decisions about research and health care,” says Goldenberg.

In fact, this grassroots program brings scientists and consumers together every step of the way, and has led to groundbreaking research; notably, understanding the gene, HER2/neu, which is involved in the progression of some breast cancers. This ultimately led to the development of the drug Herceptin ®, a medication that has extended the lives of many women with HER2/neu-positive breast cancer, including Goldenberg.

“While breast cancer is widely publicized and so much research is being done, it’s mainly a women’s disease and there’s still much more to do,” says Goldenberg. “Because Congress is male dominated, we’ve had to fight for every single dollar. Everyone benefits from our efforts because a lot of the drugs that have come out of breast cancer chemotherapies also are used in ovarian, colon and rectal, and lung cancers among others.” Dedication, time and energy of people such as Goldenberg and Worth have contributed to Congress approving another $150 million to the research program this year.

“Breast cancer is definitely a priority for me. I am doing this for the future generation. I have a passion for it. I don’t want my children’s generation to live in a world of breast cancer. I think about my daughter Carlye all the time,” says Goldenberg.

Goldenberg and her husband Steve are parents of 10-year-old twins Carlye and Max and six-year-old Justin. When it comes to passions and priorities, family is number one, and that means keeping them healthy and active. Goldenberg, a vegetarian, says her daughter chose to follow the same diet, and the family tries to eat mostly organic and hormone-free foods. They also exercise as a family not just for the health benefits, but also as a fun way to spend quality time together.

Obviously, Goldenberg is busy at work and play, and she has no plans of slowing down any time soon. In addition to being active in her children’s schools, she has been recognized numerous times for her philanthropic contributions to the St. Louis community. As a JCC Associates Mitzvah Star, Goldenberg participates in the education and fundraising efforts of the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Program at the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University. She also raises more than $10,000 every year for the Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day, which involves walking 20 miles a day for a total of 60 miles in one weekend at a different city each year.

Her leadership role in the St. Louis Jewish community has led her to another huge opportunity–her first trip to Israel. Goldenberg is one of 10 people, between the ages of 27 and 40, invited on a 10-day journey to their homeland later this month through the Rubin Israel Experience. The trip is funded by entrepreneur Ron Rubin, Minister of Tea of The Republic of Tea, and his wife Pam.

“I hope this trip to Israel is going to fulfill a circle for me. In addition to always working with the SLBCC, I feel like the spiritual part of this journey will be complete.”

SLBCC House Tour

WHEN: Sunday, Oct 18, 5-7 p.m.

WHERE: 8025 Maryland Avenue

HOW MUCH: $50 donation

MORE INFO: 314-989-1111 or

“Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home.