With daughter Ashley at his side, commercial real estate broker...

With daughter Ashley at his side, commercial real estate broker Richard Cohen kept his business going through months of illness. Credit: Heather Walsh

The phone in Richard Cohen's Hauppauge office is ringing. There goes his cell. And his other phone, too. "Give me a few minutes," the 58-year-old commercial real estate broker, founder of Ashlind Properties, tells one caller. "Mazel tov," he tells another, who reports a birth.

Cohen is back at work. He almost wasn't. Last year he was diagnosed with throat cancer, and after that he had surgery to repair a heart valve. Despite all that, his business kept humming.

The reason? His now 25-year-old daughter, Ashley Cohen, jumped in. "She stepped in terrifically," Cohen said.

A 2009 graduate of Marymount College in Manhattan, Ashley had no real estate experience; she had been working in public relations in Manhattan before her father's cancer diagnosis. "It was kind of nerve-racking," she said.

Cohen and his daughter kept in constant contact via cell phone and computer. She served as his eyes and ears. In the months of his illness, they managed to wrap up two major deals: a lease to Global Tissue in Yaphank and the sale of a 93,000-square-foot building to LNK International Inc. in Hauppauge.

Will Ashley Cohen stay on? "Yes, if he gives me a raise," she said with a laugh.