by Melissa Rosen, Director of National Outreach
Sharsheret began 2017 with an exciting and important collaboration with Women’s League for Conservative Judaism. Sharsheret, Hebrew for “chain”,
is a national not-for-profit organization, that supports women and families, of all Jewish backgrounds, facing breast cancer, at every stage – before, during and after diagnosis. Sharsheret’s objective to raise awareness, educate and offer support to Jewish women and families meshes perfectly with Women’s League’s role as the network for women in the Conservative/Masorti movement. I am excited that together we will provide a valued service to the 40,000+ Women’s League members and their families.
Breast cancer is a scary subject. After all, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. Breast cancer awareness, on the other hand, is empowering. I want to congratulate Women’s League for promoting awareness, and to share four important steps to protect our health.
First, learn your family history. In the general population, 1 in every 400 people, men and women, carries a mutation on a BRCA gene that increases their risk of a breast or ovarian cancer diagnosis. For Jews of Ashkenazi descent, that number is 1 in 40. Ask about the incidence of cancer in your family and discuss it with your doctor or a genetics counselor to determine if genetic screening makes sense for you. Sharsheret offers free genetic conversations with our genetics counselor.
Know what is normal for your body. Being familiar with your body will help you observe any changes. If something concerns you, follow up with a doctor.
Living healthfully is so important. Be proactive about your health, not just breast health. Eat well and be active – these strategies have been proven to mitigate cancer risks. You don’t need to eliminate all sugar or run a marathon. Take small, manageable steps.
Finally, commit to appropriate screenings and don’t push them off. Every day, women we know neglect caring for themselves because they have work deadlines, volunteer responsibilities and family obligations. We must remember to care for ourselves the way we would care for any loved one.
Let’s make this the year we commit to breast cancer awareness and our own health! Be sure to attend Sharsheret’s education and outreach programs at your synagogue and in your community, and if one hasn’t been planned, take the lead! Look for us at the Women’s League 2017 convention. Visit our website. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. And most importantly, connect Sharsheret with people who could benefit from our support and resources. We are wherever you are.
We can’t change the odds, but with Sharsheret, no woman will have to face breast or ovarian cancer alone.