A New Link in the Sharsheret Chain
Prior to my summer internship at Sharsheret, the most exposure I had to this organization was winning the Sharsheret Cake Wars Competition with my team at Yeshiva University. I had known this was an organization that provided support for Jewish women living with breast or ovarian cancer, but I had not realized the extent to which they impact individuals of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life. As the summer went on, I learned that not only do Sharsheret clinicians support women one-on-one, but they also have a peer support network to connect women with other women, support for caregivers and families, and support and educational resources for entire communities.
As a Sema Heller – Netivot Shalom Intern, I had the opportunity to work with both the clinical and outreach departments. For the clinical team, I helped work on the Peer Support Network Expansion. I helped update, reorganize, and improve the list of healthcare professionals and their affiliated hospitals in our database, so that we can better match women with other women who have used the same healthcare team. For the outreach department, I researched hundreds of mikvahs from across the country and created a comprehensive list to reach out to moving forward. Before this summer, I had never thought about the connection between a ritual bath and breast cancer. What I soon realized was that the mikvah experience can be incredibly healing, powerful, and therapeutic, but it may initially be uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing for a woman facing breast cancer. At Sharsheret, another aspect of their mission is further educating and providing resources to mikvah attendants to be more accommodating, sensitive, and supportive to women at all stages of their breast cancer journey.
As a current social work student, I chose this field in order to empower and support people in moving forward from challenges, to bring a voice to those who feel voiceless, and to be an advocate for individuals in need. At Sharsheret, their very mission is to empower and support women and families living with or at increased risk for breast or ovarian cancer, and they continue to grow their network of healthcare professionals, students, women, families, and communities who raise their voices and advocate for women and cancer awareness. In the eight short weeks that I spent here, I was continuously amazed and inspired by each and every staff member behind Sharsheret whose kindness, hard work, and dedication actively make this the incredible organization that it is today. And though I am sad this internship has come to an end, I am looking forward to using the skills and knowledge that I have gained in my future as a social worker and as a new link in the Sharsheret chain.