So the “Real Housewives of New York” original cast member started lending her name and attending parties on behalf of charities that fight cancer.
The glittering social events kept her focused as Bobby’s thyroid gland was chemically removed with radioactive iodine treatment, which was supposed to kill the cancer.
“We were so grateful,” the 52-year-old recalled of her husband’s supposed recovery.
Their relief was short lived.
A routine check-up in 2013 revealed the thyroid cancer hadn’t been cured, and, in fact, the disease had spread to his lungs.
The reality star said she became angry that the treatment her 71-year-old husband had undergone, which works for many cancer patients, hadn’t helped him.
She wanted answers, and she wanted to do something positive.
“Bobby’s body couldn’t absorb the iodine. Most people — 93 percent of the population diagnosed with thyroid cancer — can absorb the iodine, which for some reason, no one knows why, fights the cancer. But for 7 percent of the population, the treatment doesn’t work,” she explained.
Getty ImagesWhile Bobby, the owner of Zarin Fabrics, underwent surgery to remove one of the tumors in his lungs, Zarin stepped up her anti-cancer game.
She launched a ladies’ luxury luncheon as an invitation-only event for her friends.
‘Housewives” and reality-TV stars flocked to her Southampton home from across the country, along with supermodels like Christie Brinkley and Carol Alt and other celebs.
But this summer, for the first time, Zarin will sell tickets to the public, opening up her home to the masses — and it’s now the most sought-after event for the Hamptons social circuit.
Crazed RHONY fans are paying up to $5,000 to attend the July 29 shindig.
Paid entry includes access to a beauty bar, a cocktail bar, and food provided by famous chefs.
“It is really important to me to do this,” said Zarin. “The event has always been for my friends only but the event has become popular enough that people beyond my friends want to come. I’m charging everyone, friends included, and nobody minds because it is all going to a good cause.”
All money raised after event expenses will go to the International Thyroid Oncology Group, a 501 (c)(3) charity.
The group is unique, Zarin says, because it’s made up of a team of doctors, scientists and advocates who try to match patients with cutting-edge clinical trials.
Most importantly, they’ve given Bobby hope.
“It was started by a man who lost his wife to thyroid cancer. They can really help Bobby and others like him. Everyone who comes to my party will be donating money — and we all have a fun time doing it,” Zarin said.
For the event, Zarin will transform the backyard of her stunning bayfront home into a giant “gifting suite,” like the kind celebrities enjoy at the Oscars.
“Most people never get to experience anything like it, and I wanted to provide my friends with a really great experience,” Zarin said.
There will be stands for entrepreneurs to showcase their wares. Some products will be up for sale, while others are just plain free.
“Some people are here strictly to gift — like the eyelash growers. But some people will come and do trunk shows,” Zarin said. “There will be models walking around in bikinis from a St. Bart’s store in Bridgehampton. There will be jewelry, workout clothes and fashion for sale, but most of the gadgets and beauty products and food will be given away. And there will be nothing unhealthy to eat because of Bobby.”
One of the products being featured is an exercise bike from Schiller that floats on the water. Guests will be able to try it out.
Whispering Angel is also sending its own “angels” to serve rosé wine.
There will also be a Tito’s vodka lemonade stand, a kissing stand to sample lipsticks, a Sania’s brow bar, and a RPZL’s braid bar, according to Brian Kelly and Sean Koski, whose company, Ticket2Events, produces the event each year.
Every day, trucks roll up to Zarin’s home with a massive amount of products.
“Today, a truck pulled into my driveway with an elevator — it lowered down a 268-pound wood palette filled with 40 boxes of skin care,” Zarin said. “I’m giving away more than $1 million worth of products. It’s crazy.”
She will also be debuting her own line of rugs. All the VIPs will get one free — and they’re worth up to $1,000.
Zarin said the top ticket price includes a gold gift bag stuffed with thousands of dollars in swag.
The tote bag alone sells for “almost $200 — you’ll use it all summer,” Zarin said gleefully, as she sorted through the bags with her pet Chihuahua, Ginger, by her side.
The items for the gift bags have filled up Zarin’s five-bedroom, 6,000-square-foot home, and she has hired an army of folks to help prepare the swag for the event.
“It’s so fun when I get the products,” she says, “and it is even better knowing that it is going for a great cause.”
But she doesn’t want to say what will be in the gift bags because it will spoil the surprise.
At least two stars from every “Real Housewives” franchise — from New York and New Jersey to Potomac, Orange County, Beverly Hills, Toronto and Melbourne — will attend the event, as well as “Million Dollar Matchmaker” Patti Stanger, Kardashian clan pals Jonathan Cheban and Simon Huck, KC from KC and the Sunshine Band and Vinny Ventiera, a former star of “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise.”
“It’s going to be a fun party — it always is,” Zarin said.
At last summer’s event, Cheban and media mogul Jason Binn flew a helicopter to a Meadow Lane helipad in Southampton, not far from Zarin’s home, and took an amphibious boat from Iguana Yachts to the party.
“The boat came right out of the water,” Zarin said. “Everyone wanted to stay on the boat. It was so hot out!”
Zarin said she is trying to connect with as many people as possible through the parties and her Web site, JillZarin.com, which she uses to post events, muse about her rug line, and discuss finding a cure for thyroid cancer.
“I answer every one of my e-mails,” she said. “If you have any questions about cancer, if you know anyone who needs help, contact me. I will respond.”