Kinga Lampert On Her Mission To Cure Breast Cancer With The BCRF

Kinga LampertPhoto Credit: Romain Maurice

It’s a beautiful, sunny day in Miami, and we’re sitting down with Haute 100-lister Kinga Lampert. Looking beautiful as ever, exuding poise and elegance, she graciously greets us as we’re preparing for our shoot. She’s coming off of a quick but impactful trip to New York, where she and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) hosted the annual Symposium and Awards Luncheon, this year honoring fashion legend Vera Wang with the Sandra Taub Humanitarian Award. Lampert served as the Co-Chair of the philanthropic event, which raised an astounding $2.6 million to directly benefit BCRF.

While the event was a huge success for the Foundation, it is just one of the many endeavors that Lampert and the BCRF hold throughout the year as they work tirelessly for their cause. Kinga is a woman on a mission, and that mission is to eradicate breast cancer by funding the world’s most promising research.

As we chat, she’s very realistic in the challenge that lies ahead of her and the dedicated team members working for the cause, but she is also optimistic.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the world, right after lung cancer,” she begins. “One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Every two minutes, a woman in the U.S. hears the words, ‘You have breast cancer.’ I feel that in one way or the other, everybody is touched by this disease, either personally or through someone they know. It also should be noted that men can be diagnosed with breast cancer, too. In fact, at BCRF, we’ve added a blue dot to our pink ribbon to symbolize the men fighting the disease, as well.”

The cause is near and dear to her heart, as she was personally diagnosed with breast cancer 12 years ago and is currently in remission. Since then, she’s been a leading member of BCRF, and over the past seven years, has served as the Co-Chairman of the Board.

“I joined BCRF about 12 years ago, and I was deeply involved in the cause when [BCRF Founder] Evelyn Lauder passed away, unfortunately, in 2011. I was honored when her husband, Leonard, asked me to help lead the organization into the future and step up as Co-Chairman of the Board,” she shares.

“BCRF is the largest private funder of breast cancer research worldwide,” Lampert notes. “We’re the highest-rated breast cancer organization in the country. This year alone, we are investing over $66 million to support the work of 275 scientists across 14 countries. It is a wonderful organization.”

And that money generated is going straight to the cause and making a direct impact. Over the years, BCRF has made enormous strides, which Kinga is elated to share.

“While I did mention the statistics of breast cancer, I love to talk about our progress because we’ve had such promising growth over the years, with encouraging figures to show. Our greatest statistic is that early-stage breast cancer is 95-percent curable today. That means that when caught early, the survival rates for breast cancer are the highest that they have ever been, which is really amazing,” she shares. “The overall deaths have dropped by 40 percent in the last 20 years. In the U.S. today, there are 3.5 million survivors who are thriving. It’s amazing to see these numbers because you know that our research is making a difference, and this is how we continue to bring in generous donations because people trust what we are doing.”

Kinga wants to emphasize that while eradicating breast cancer is certainly a massive mission, there is plenty of hope for the future.

“We’ve celebrated so many breakthroughs over the past 25 years,” she enthuses. “The BRCA 1 and 2 genes were discovered by one of our researchers and scientists, named Dr. Marie-Claire King. There’s also a drug called Herceptin, which is widely administered today, which came out of research we supported. And there’s another tool called the Oncotype DX, which is an incredible tool that looks at a tumor and is able to tell a woman whether she would actually benefit from chemotherapy or not, which is huge because prior to this being developed, pretty much everyone was given chemotherapy, and the patient didn’t have the power to decide. Now, it’s a choice.”

Kinga LampertPhoto Credit: Romain Maurice

Although October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, BCRF works tirelessly throughout the year fundraising for the cause. Kinga shares that what makes BCRF unique is that when Evelyn Lauder started the Foundation, she felt strongly that BCRF should not have an endowment—meaning that all the money raised every year would be immediately put to work and translated into grants. This keeps the Foundation on its toes, since every year, the cash balance goes back to zero, and the fundraising must begin again. But it also means that every dollar raised is immediately translated into research and science.

In addition to BCRF, Kinga and her husband, Eddie Lampert, also founded the Kinga and Edward Lampert Laboratory for Breast Cancer Research, located at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami. 

The couple felt so strongly about the city of Miami and its potential for medical innovation that they decided to provide funding for the laboratory. Kinga also sits on the Board of Trustees for Sylvester.

“After being in Miami for seven years now, my husband and I both felt that in a city this vibrant that attracts so many people from all over the world, we should have top-notch research facilities, as well,” she shares. “I think great things are happening in the medical field in South Florida. Sylvester just got the NCI designation, which is a very big deal. It’s the only cancer hospital in South Florida to have that designation, which will definitely attract a lot of talented doctors and brilliant researchers in Miami, so we are very much looking forward to that.”

It’s safe to say that Kinga Lampert and the BCRF are leading the cause full-speed ahead, working day in and day out to accomplish their goal. And the light at the end of the tunnel is not so far off, according to Kinga. What she really feels is the greatest challenge that lies ahead is funding. 

“I truly think the one thing that stands between today and finding a cure is funding because we need consistent funds that can go to support our dedicated researchers,” she maintains. “And these discoveries are not something that happen in six months or a year. This is continuous work that leads to milestones. We’re spreading awareness, trying to have more and more people connect to the cause and our mission because that’s what’s going to fuel the next breakthrough. 

“I believe that a cure for breast cancer doesn’t have to be a vaccine or a pill, but if we manage to understand metastatic disease, which is really what a lot of our research dollars are going to, and if breast cancer can become a chronic disease that women can live with and don’t die from, that’s a form of a cure, as well,” she adds. “And I think we’re getting very, very close to that.”