Everyone Has The Power to Make a Difference: My Experience as a Peer Supporter For Sharsheret
I will never forget the week I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. A close friend had put me in touch with a mutual camp friend who had experienced what I was experiencing several months before. I remember vividly how my mind was racing with all sorts of unanswered questions. She became an incredible source of strength for me as she was able to share with me her actual experience going through what I was about to endure. Having the connection with someone who had been there before me, sort of a trailblazer if you will, really was a huge comfort to me at the time. We spoke about recovery, how soon I would get to shower after surgery, which bathrobe to get, how to manage visitors and so many other topics that no one else could understand unless you had been there before. It gave me tremendous piece of mind that someone I knew had conquered the mountain I was about to climb. This is exactly the support that Sharsheret strives to provide and is fundamental to their success. It was Rochie Shoretz’s A”H mission when she established Sharsheret.
After I was fortunate enough to recover from breast cancer, my amazing support counselor at Sharsheret asked if I would consider becoming a peer supporter, a Sharsheret “link.” I was excited for the opportunity to pay it forward and to use the experience that I had been through to help others. Sharsheret provided me with the training and entered my details into their database. Over the last three years I’ve been able to be there for others the way that the ones before me were there for me. It is never easy to take a call like that – it takes me back to that terrible day when the radiologist gave me the news no one ever wants to hear at their first mammogram. Deep down I know that the comfort that I am providing by listening to someone or just being there for support is really priceless to them. I was in their shoes and now I “get it.”
I’ve paused amidst the chaos of my day or week to take a call or make a call to someone who is facing breast cancer that was referred to me by Sharsheret. It is difficult to put into words the way that this type of virtual hand holding has made me feel but having ben on the other side of it I can say that it is truly invaluable.
I recently spoke on a webinar to help train others to become a peer “link,” and when I finished I realized how much one person can truly make a difference. If even one person is impacted by that call then it was all worth it. Last year I had the honor of celebrating “Pink Week” at Ma’ayanot High School for Girls. It was an extension of their Sharsheret Pink Day celebrations. It was a privilege to share my story of survival, my connection to Sharsheret and to teach four high energy 80s themed Zumba classes to close out their “Pink Week”. The gym at Ma’ayanot is dedicated in memory of my grandmother and it was also her yahrtzeit (anniversary of her passing) that week which made it all the more meaningful for me. I was grateful to share my experience speaking with my students at Yavneh Academy on Pink Day. The fact that I am still here today and able to share my experience as a peer “link” in the hopes that they will be able to impact others is a tremendous blessing.
Sharsheret’s Pink Day (annual Sharsheret worldwide initiative spearheaded by students, to raise breast cancer awareness) has become such an integral part of my healing journey for the unique opportunity that it provides for me to share my story and spread awareness about the unique organization that Sharsheret is. Sharsheret has helped and inspired me to do more with my experience as a breast cancer survivor. When life dishes you something that seems insurmountable and then you are lucky enough or work hard to overcome, that is your power. Everyone has the power to make a difference to someone else and when you use your experience in that way, it becomes your superpower.