Philanthropist Julie P. Cawley, whose compassion and love for a friend facing cancer were the driving force behind the founding — and naming — of ChristianaCare’s internationally recognized Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute in 2003, died June 5.
Julie Cawley’s lifelong friend Helen Graham was MBNA’s leading advocate for those with cognitive disabilities. As Julie and her husband, the late Charles M. Cawley, witnessed Helen’s personal cancer journey, they were inspired to create a centralized institute for Delawareans to seek world-class cancer treatment without having to leave the state. The couple’s leadership and generosity to ChristianaCare helped put Delaware on the map for visionary advances in cancer research and care. Through the years, thousands have found hope and healing at the Graham Cancer Center, benefitting from its multidisciplinary approach to cancer care, unparalleled commitment to clinical trials and visionary advancement of translational cancer research, all close to home.
“Julie and Charlie always answered the call to help, and ChristianaCare is eternally grateful for their friendship and support,” said Nicholas J. Petrelli, M.D., Bank of America Endowed Medical Director of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute. “Many of the cancer programs that exist today are due to the Cawleys’ generosity and leadership. They left a legacy for the quality of cancer care for present and future Delawareans.”
Julie and Charlie Cawley’s generosity also extended over the years to the Lanny Edelsohn, M.D., Neuro Critical Care Unit and the Fund for ChristianaCare.
“ChristianaCare is deeply grateful for the Cawleys’ unwavering support of ensuring world-class healthcare here in Delaware. That dedication can be seen throughout our organization as a lasting testament to their philanthropy,” said ChristianaCare President and CEO Janice E. Nevin, M.D., MPH. “Julie’s kindness and strength embodied our core values of love and excellence, and those wonderful traits live on through the great legacy she leaves behind.”
In 2018, Julie Cawley joined her daughter, Maureen, and son-in-law Michael Rhodes as honorary campaign chairs of ChristianaCare’s $10 million campaign to create an endowed fund for translational cancer research. Today, physicians and scientists at The Cawley Center for Translational Cancer Research work side by side to identify the needs of individual patients at the bedside, explore solutions in the lab and translate those results directly into treatment plans as unique as the individuals who benefit from them.
ChristianaCare’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute was founded in 2003 and its impact since then is clear. In 2001, Delaware had the worst cancer mortality rate in the country, and no facility to treat cancer. With great advances in cancer treatment, support services and research, Delaware is now ranked 18th among the 50 states for cancer mortality.
Toni Nash, Chair of the Friends of the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, which funds programs that enhance the patient experience, supports cancer research and provide public education on prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer, described Julie Cawley as an incredible friend, mother, grandmother and mentor.
“I feel fortunate to carry on her legacy through the work of the Friends,” she said. “Julie inspired and touched many lives through her lifelong volunteer work and philanthropy.”