Naava Parker’s Remarks
Guest of Honor
Sharsheret Benefit Luncheon 2009
No one asks for breast cancer, I certainly didn’t. I even used to joke that had anyone asked me I would have responded,
“No thank you, I’ll pass.” No one ever asked.
We don’t know what life has in store for us from one second to the next. We have little control over anything. The only thing we do have control over is how we deal with what gets thrown at us. When I found out that I had cancer I had to make a conscious decision on how I wanted to handle it.
If I got better, did I want to waste a year of my life being sad and angry, or find what made me grateful be happy and take the lessons that I learned to better my life.
I chose happy and I can tell you it wasn’t easy. The way I looked at it –there is no down side to being happy. That is not to say that I didn’t have my moments of sad and miserable but I found happy was a much better place to be. I believe it was this first decision that helped my family and me get through this with faith and optimism, making each day count.
I felt lucky for so many reasons; I had a family that was so supportive. My husband Jeffrey went to every doctors appointment helped to get me to the doctors that I needed to see, took care of more things than I can even list——-. My children David, Jeremy and Sabina were there to love me (and to give me a purpose). My mother also went to every appointment, became another set of ears to remember what the doctors had said and made me laugh even when there was nothing to laugh about, a real gift ——. My father (alav Hashalom) made sense of all the medical information and researched all the different decisions that were necessary to make, along with the help of my brother. My sister was my personal shopper; chef and confidant——— My sisters-in-laws and brothers in-laws were there for anything that fell through the cracks. I had a community of friends and family that showered me with care.
I was also very lucky that I was connected to three wonderful woman who when I called picked up the phone and were generous with their time and advice even though we had not as yet met. My Sharsheret women, Jessica Gribetz, Marci Cappel and Rochelle Hirsch, I can never thank you enough for all that you have done for me. Because of how grateful I was for all of your help to me I now speak to other newly diagnosed women in the attempt to help them as I had been helped by you.
Since being diagnosed with breast cancer I have spoken to many woman and have learned that we all handle our diagnoses differently and we all have a right to the decisions we make for ourselves. Many women prefer to keep their diagnoses of cancer to themselves and for these woman there is little or no support. For these women Sharsheret plays an invaluable role. They can get linked to someone who will speak to them, give support and keep their confidence.
Sitting in the chemo chair for the first time surrounded by family, I felt so grateful and I remember making a vow that should I get through this I had to do something positive with this experience. It was in that chair that the idea for a book developed.
(I want to thank my cousin Shera Tuchman for introducing me to her friend Rochelle Hirsch.
I want to thank Rochie (the founder of Sharsheret) for getting Rochelle and me to get this book out of my book bag, to see the light of day. Things happen for a reason – at least I think they do. As I was sitting Shiva for my father, Rochie and Rochelle were seated next to each other at a luncheon where Rochelle showed Roche our book, and here we are today.
Lumps and Bumps was a collaborative effort. I had done some research for another book idea and found out that there were no children’s books for children whose mothers had breast cancer. Being mothers ourselves and knowing first hand how hard it is to share a breast cancer diagnoses with our own children we knew how helpful a book on this subject would be. I mentioned the need to Rochelle and she replied, “I can do that! I write poems for people’s simchas”. Within a week she had written a story in verse. She then called me and said “you’re artistic – would you illustrate it?” I had never illustrated anything before. I didn’t know if I would be able to, so I tried, and many, many pictures later I am an Illustrator! Together we worked on the story the words and pictures. Two years, and many revisions later we have a book! As the book developed so did we. I know that I can speak for Rochelle and tell you that we feel very proud of this book. We put our hearts and souls into LUMPS AND BUMPS. Our hope is that this book will help the many families facing breast cancer, to help them at a very difficult time, by giving them the tools to start a dialogue and to let them know that they are not alone. It is sensitive to both the mother and the children they will read it to. This story belongs to many, and we hope this book can serve as a guide.
In closing I would like to quote my mother quoting my grandmother ————————-
G-d’s salvation can happen in the blink of an eye. Good health to us all! Thank you so much for coming and supporting Sharsheret.