When Harvey Levine of Potomac learned that his sister Sheila Levine of Falls Church, Va., had ocular melanoma in 2008, he also learned that her skin cancer was much more serious than the melanoma he had survived or the basal and squamous cell carcinomas of his other two siblings.
Ocular melanoma is known as an orphan disease, in that it occurs in only about 2,000 people in the U.S. each year, according to the Ocular Melanoma Foundation. As such, the disease, which metastasizes in about half the cases, usually to the liver, receives little attention from the medical community and little money for research.
“Pharmaceutical companies tend to invest their research dollars where the potential payout is most promising; graduates from medical schools resist entering fields where patient cure rates are virtually nonexistent ... and fundraising focuses on areas of large active constituencies,” Harvey Levine wrote in an email.
So Levine decided to produce a fundraiser and awareness raiser for ocular melanoma and his sister.
“The Music of George Gershwin and John Denver” will be performed at 1 p.m. Oct. 6 at the Sixth & I Street Synagogue in Washington, D.C. Proceeds will go to the ocular melanoma arm of the Melanoma Research Foundation in support of Sheila Levine, whose ocular melanoma has metastasized. There also will be a silent auction of works by local artists including Carol Dryer, Alvena McCormick and Alan Rubin and New York street photographer Jill Freedman.
Gershwin’s music will be interpreted by concert pianists Shaun Tirrell and Matthew Backman and Denver’s hits will be performed by vocalists and guitarists Doris Justis and Sean McGhee, known as Side by Side.
According to Levine, Gershwin and Denver deserve to be together.
“Their music was heard throughout virtually the entire 20th century and many of their songs are timeless,” he wrote. “Their compositions span the genres of jazz, folk opera, pop, stage and screen.”
Tickets to the fundraiser cost $50. Checks should be made out to CURE OM and sent to Harvey Levine, 7803 Cadbury Ave., Potomac, MD 20854. Tickets will be mailed along with a receipt from the Melanoma Research Foundation. For more information, email email@example.com.