Give Love; Give Life

Back in 496, Pope Gelasius I abolished Lupercalia. That Roman fertility festival had ancient roots and was held February 15th at the finish of the festival of Juno Februa. The pope also declared the feast of St. Valentine would be on February 14th. In 1969, the church removed the feast day from the liturgical calendar as it was determined to be based on legend. A big part of the legend had St. Valentine, on the eve of his martyrdom, passing a love note to his jailer’s daughter that read, “From your Valentine.”

In 1382, Chaucer was the first to associate Valentine’s Day as a romantic holiday when he wrote Parlement of Foules containing these lines:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make (chose his mate)

As few birds in England are up to mating in mid-February, Chaucer must have been referring to the day set aside for a different St. Valentine–a former bishop of Genoa, whose official day is May 2nd. But, the sentiment stuck.

From that time forward, February 14th has been the Valentine’s Day people have held as the annual day to celebrate romantic love. Even Ophelia in Hamlet dreamily notes, “Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day.”

By the mid-1800s, the current giving of cards and gifts on the day began in North America. Every grade school child knows the card-giving ritual. Now, cultures from China, Japan, Mexico, Slovenia, Norwayall celebrate some form of the holiday.

Give Love; Give Life

And, now we have a budding, new tradition; thanks to some activist/musicians. Having experienced the loss of loved ones–grandmothers, mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, aunts, nieces, cousins – to gynecological cancers, John Trudell, Jackson Browne and Willie Nelson are about to conduct the second, “Give Love; Give Life” benefit concert for the Women’s Cancer Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The benefit is Feb. 22nd at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. (Ticket info at )

John initiated the tradition two years ago when he held the first such Benefit on Valentine’s Day. He felt it would be a fine thing if he and some of his male colleagues would do this every Valentine’s Day for the women in their lives and women in general. (It’s the 22nd this year due to scheduling issues; but will always be as close to Valentine’s Day as possible.)

Proceeds from the concert will go directly to Dr. Beth Karlan’s research and public education work on gynecologic cancers; meaning ovarian and other cancers that directly impact a woman’s reproductive system.

These three outstanding activist/musicians and their bands are donating their time; as they all have done on an array of progressive issues over the years–from Willie’s work on Farm-Aid and bio-fuels to John and Jackson’s long-standing support for Native Rights, anti-nukes and environmental protection efforts.


Women’s Cancer Facts

Every seven minutes, a woman in the United States is diagnosed (often after a time­robbing misdiagnosis) with a gynecological cancer–200 per day–over 80,000 per year. The American Cancer Society notes that over 80 women a day die from such cancers–over 30,000 per year. {One in three women in the US will develop a cancer – gynecological or other – in their lifetime.}

However, if diagnosed early, a majority of these cancers can be cured. Yet, research in the field lags, as does public attention. An increase in research and awareness will lead to better detection and treatment and ultimately save many women’s lives.

Dr. Karlan is the Board of Governors Endowed Chair in Gynecologic Oncology and Director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA as well as serving as Director of the Women’s Cancer Research Institute. The Institute is a multi-disciplinary program that is working to reduce the threat of cancer to women through research, education, early detection and prevention.


Ways you can support the effort:

Help spread the word. Please e-mail the link to this article about the benefit to your colleagues and organizational networks.

Purchase a block of seats for your business or organization to attend the show.

Purchase a block of seats for women cancer survivors or those struggling with the disease to be able to attend the show at no cost.

Purchase VIP tickets to the show, which give you the best seats in the house PLUS a backstage pass to attend a private, after-show reception with the artists. To buy your VIP seats, call WCRI at 310-423-6786, or e mail

Make a tax-deductible donation to WCRI to help underwrite the costs of the event. Please make your checks payable to: Cedars Sinai Medical Center with the memo stating: Give Love Give Life.

Send your check to:

Christina Watts, Give Love Give Life Benefit

Cedars Sinai Medical Center

8700 Beverly Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90048

MICHAEL DONNELLY has lost his mother, a grandmother and four aunts to these cancers and has family and friends living with these cancers today–still living productive lives due to improvement in detection and treatment pioneered by WCRI. He can be reached at


MICHAEL DONNELLY has been an environmental activist since before that first Earth Day. He was in the thick of the Pacific Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign; garnering some collective victories and lamenting numerous defeats. He can be reached at