Photo Credit: Barbra Streisand
It is being hailed as the hottest ticket in Hollywood and a “once in a lifetime opportunity” -- a dinner tonight at the Malibu home of Barbra Streisand and her husband James Brolin. On tap for the evening? Former President Clinton will be making a guest appearance, Streisand is giving a rare live performance, Josh Groban is also performing and money – an estimated $20 million in total – is being raised all for a great cause -- to battle heart disease in women. And iVillage is one of only a handful of media organizations – and the only female focused digital site -- invited to report on the benefit. (Yes, we’re pinching ourselves, but more on that a bit later!)
The issue itself couldn’t be more serious. Did you know that heart disease kills more women every year than all cancers combined? All the deaths from breast cancer, ovarian cancer, lung cancer etc. don’t top the number of women, approximately 500,000, who die every year from heart disease. Two other stats are equally alarming to this female reporter who hails from a family that has battled heart disease. At least 40 percent of women don’t survive their first heart attack, and more women now die from heart disease than men.
Streisand was so “absolutely shocked” to learn about these stats that she committed herself back in 2008 to support research at the Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, with a particular focus on gender disparities. Despite more women dying from heart disease than men, much of the treatment for women is based on -- you guessed it -- research performed on men.
“How is this possible?,” Streisand says on her website, www.barbrastreisand.com. “Women are different physiologically from men and we are paying a terrible price for this knowledge gap.” She says she has always “been disturbed by gender inequality.” “In a way that’s why I made Yentl (about) a woman in a man’s world who was not allowed to study because of her gender.”
Listen to Streisand try to raise awarenes about heart disease in women in this PSA:
Determined to do something about the gender disparities, the legendary singer and Academy Award-winning actress has put her massive celebrity and deep pockets behind the cause. She gave $5 million to Cedars-Sinai in 2008 to create The Barbra Streisand Women’s Cardiovascular Research and Education Program at the Women’s Heart Center, and has reportedly pledged $10 million in advance of tonight’s event, with the goal of raising $20 million. Some 200 guests are expected to attend, with the highest tickets going for $100,000, earning guests two premiere level seats and a private cocktail reception and a photo with Streisand and President Clinton.
Joining Streisand at tonight's event will be Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, director of the Women's Heart Center. In interviews, Merz has said, "If you look like a man, you get treated like a man. And if you look like a woman, you don't cut the mustard and you don't get treated."
WATCH: Why Barbra Streisand Wants You to Follow Your Heart
Here’s where you come in. Share this story with your friends, your family and your followers to help raise awareness about how heart disease kills too many women -- too many moms, wives, sisters, daughters and friends -- and how gender-specific research is needed to treat the disease. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter and on Facebook to hear all about this star-studded event that we can barely contain our excitement about attending.
Check back here Friday for a report on what we learned about battling heart disease, who we saw and what it was like to sit back and listen to the woman described as the greatest female singer of our time. How could I not love my job?!