Big Hats and Big Hope in Texas
I just returned from the 34th Annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), where Sharsheret hosted an exhibit booth to introduce the organization to health care professionals worldwide, and at which I presented on a panel addressing cultural diversity in cancer care. It was one of the more exciting SABCS gatherings in recent years, with new research reported on the treatment of metastatic breast cancer and the continuing exploration of the role of bisphosphonates (a class of drugs that prevent the loss of bone mass, used to treat osteoporosis and similar diseases ) in the care of premenopausal women. What does this mean for the Sharsheret family – Jewish women and men affected by breast cancer – who reach out to us for information and support?
- For premenopausal women in our Peer Support Program, research scientists continue studying the use of bisphosphonates in cancer care. As with all research, consult your health care provider about your specific treatment plan, and let us know if you’d like to connect with other young women who may already be on a similar plan.
- For women in our Embrace program living with metastatic breast cancer, research scientists presented results from a Phase III clinical trial that shows promising use of everolimus combined with the aromotase inhibitor exemestane as a new “standard of care”. Again, speak with your health care provider about your specific treatment plan, and connect with Sharsheret’s Embrace group to meet other young women living with advanced breast cancer.
- For all women and men interested in learning more about the impact of the environment on breast cancer, the Institute of Medicine released a report featured at SABCS.
Also at SABCS, Sharsheret presented the cultural considerations for Jews facing breast cancer before an audience of close to 100 advocates. I began with a group effort to pronounce “Sharsheret” (Hebrew for “chain” and often difficult to pronounce), reviewed the genetic concerns for 1 in 40 Jews at risk of hereditary breast cancer and ovarian cancer, the cultural issues for those concerned about confidentiality, modesty, fertility, and parenting, and the religious and spiritual concerns for those experiencing holidays and other celebrations in the midst of a cancer diagnosis. I was joined by representatives from Sisters Network and Latina SHARE, addressing the needs of African American women and Latina women, respectively, facing breast cancer. Although every woman shares common concerns while facing breast cancer, the event was a meaningful opportunity to explore the ways in which advocates and health care professionals can address the unique issues of diverse communities.
Finally, Sharsheret enjoyed a big Texas welcome from the Jewish Federation of San Antonio and its President and CEO, Howard Feinberg. Howard, a transplant from Bergen County (home of Sharsheret’s national headquarters), introduced Sharsheret to key lay leaders and professionals in the San Antonio community. We brainstormed ways to share Sharsheret’s education and support programs throughout the area, leveraging initiatives already in place for young leadership, women’s division, and health care professionals.
I left San Antonio with lots to share: conference materials for our staff, research updates for all of you, and program ideas for the Jewish communities in Texas. The only thing I can’t share is the breakfast taco, care of Howard, that I devoured on my way out of town.