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October 8, 2009

Lauren's Light improv comedy show helps in fight against cancer

An improv fundraiser for young cancer families honors the late Lauren Feinswog Millin, an '86 Palmetto High graduate who went on to the Ivy League.

BY DONNA GEHRKE-WHITE
dgehrke@MiamiHerald.com


Lauren Feinswog Millin who died of cancer at age 33. 
A nonprofit, Lauren's Light, has been set up in her honor.

Lauren Feinswog Millin was just 33 when she died of cancer.

But her life inspired many to take on a cause -- helping young families cope when a parent has cancer.

Her family and friends helped start the nonprofit Lauren's Light, whose executive office is based in Coconut Grove with another office in South Miami.

On Thursday, the nonprofit will hold an improv fundraiser: The jokes will flow for a serious cause.

Lauren's Light will produce Lighten Up Thursday at the Miami Improv Comedy Club in Coconut Grove. It will be hosted by author and comedian Andrea Askowitz.

``I hold a special place in my heart for this function as Lauren was one of my childhood best friends,'' said Askowitz, who wrote My Miserable, Lonely, Lesbian Pregnancy. ``Sadly, Lauren lost her fight against a very rare cancer at the tender age of 33, just six months after delivering her second child.''

 

Lisa Landry and Mo Mandel will share in the spotlight, donating their opening night to Lauren's Light to raise money for families battling cancer. Landry has starred in a half-hour special, Comedy Central Presents Lisa Landry, while Mandel is a regular on Chelsea Lately.

Millin's mother, Malvina Feinswog, said it would have been just like her late daughter to start a nonprofit to help others. So family and friends formed Lauren's Light to honor her memory.

``We feel she is working with us every step of the way,'' Feinswog said.

After all, her daughter, a 1986 Palmetto High graduate, eventually earned a master's from Columbia University in running a nonprofit.

``She was very bright. Very bright,'' Feinswog said, adding that her daughter was accepted at Ivy League's University of Pennsylvania where she graduated magna cum laude.

Millin was having a difficult second pregnancy when doctors discovered she had cancer. ``It was a shock to everybody,'' her mother remembered. She died in 2001, and her family started Lauren's Light the year after.

Its mission: ``To share Lauren's love through Lauren's Light, enabling Lauren's essence to continue to shine, comfort and inspire.''

Today, her family has united to run Lauren's Light, including her widower Anthony Millin, her mother and her father Ben Feinswog. Her older son Joshua is now 11; Matthew is 8.

Having gone through Millin's cancer, the family knows the trauma and heartache other families endure.

Their nonprofit provides free counseling and other services to young families struggling to help a parent with cancer.

It can be daunting: Families already struggling to help their young children also have to concentrate on learning about cancer and its treatments.

``Just imagine going through that with a young family,'' Malvina Feinswog said. ``You don't have the leisure to be sick.''

Lauren's Light helps cancer patients and families obtain educational materials and available treatment options.

``We do it all through donations,'' Feinswog said.

Tickets can be purchased at the door the day of the show for $60. The Miami Improv Comedy Club is 3390 Mary St. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. For more information or to make a donation, call 305-740-5287 or visit www.laurenslight.org.