Giving Back to Sharsheret
Breast cancer has been in my family since my mother’s diagnosis in 2002. I have three sisters and a brother and this diagnosis really upset, but educated, all of us.
A few years later, my youngest sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Therefore, I knew in the back of my mind, it wasn’t “if” I would get breast cancer, but “when.”
My initial cancer diagnosis was in October 2015. My primary care physician referred me to a couple of surgeons and my journey through wellness began. Each of my meetings with all of the specialists left me encouraged and hopeful. My outpatient surgery was scheduled on December 30, 2015 and I was back to work on January 4, 2016.
The November 2016 issue of The Arizona Jewish Post ran an article about Sharsheret and the reasons for genetic testing. The timing of this article was incredible. I was ready to embrace the next chapter – do I need genetic testing? Both of my sisters had negative BRACA 1 and BRCA2/2 results. I have no children. What do I do with this knowledge once I get it? Nonetheless, I contacted Sharsheret through their website and was immediately contacted by Ariel. Two days later a huge box of materials, books, and gifts (etc.) arrived at my house. (Had I read this article earlier in my diagnosis, I would not have made any contact. Earlier, I was not ready to face the next “what ifs.” Now I was).
Ariel put me in touch with Sharsheret’s Genetic Program Coordinator, Peggy, who answered all of my questions about genetic testing and it was after that conversation that I made an appointment for testing. Seventeen genes were tested and all of them came back negative.
Knowledge and awareness are powerful tools. Sometimes it is what you do or don’t do that has a bigger impact. I was raised in a home that taught how to give back and give of yourself to others. I learned early on about the eight levels of tzedakkah (charitable giving). With that in mind, I thought about how I could give back to Sharsheret and it dawned on me that it would be most meaningful to add them as a secondary beneficiary to my IRA account. The knowledge and tools that Sharsheret provided to me have helped me move through my journey.