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Susan Lowell Butler, advocate for cancer awareness, dies at 66

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Thursday, January 6, 2011; 8:30 PM

Susan Lowell Butler, 66, executive director since 2007 of the D.C. Cancer Consortium, a coalition of medical and community organizations in the Washington region, died Dec. 18 at her home in Alexandria. She had ovarian cancer.

Mrs. Butler, who ran her own public affairs agency from 1996 to 2006, received a diagnosis of ovarian and breast cancer in 1995. After successful treatment, she was in remission for 13 years.

Her diagnosis led to her involvement in cancer advocacy. In the late 1990s, she became one of the founders of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, a group that works to increase cancer research funding and assist women who have ovarian cancer. She was a board member and past vice president.

Mrs. Butler also served as the vice president of public engagement for what is now Capital Hospice.

She was born Susan Alicia Yost in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 10, 1944, and received a bachelor's degree in English from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., in 1964. She moved to the Washington region in 1970 and had lived in Alexandria since 1988.

Earlier in her career, Mrs. Butler was an executive director of the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y., and a director the National Education Association.

Since the late 1990s, she had served on the patient advisory council of the National Cancer Institute and on the advisory committee of the Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health, which she called the "House of Hope."

Her marriage to Horace Lowell ended in divorce.

Survivors include her husband of 27 years, James T. "Jim" Butler of Alexandria; three stepsons, James R. Butler of Austin, Kevin Butler of Corte Madera, Calif., and Michael Butler of Santa Cruz, Calif.; and three grandchildren.

- Lauren Wiseman


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