I’ve come to believe that seriously sick people are often subject to some very interesting comments from well-intentioned non-sick people. They are frequently inspired by #platitudes from self-help-books, Google chat rooms (heaven forbid), or beliefs that have been around for so long that they are a natural part of common discourse.

To be fair, when we are confronted with the uncomfortable task of talking to a sick person, our conversation can easily become a pre-programmed response that make us feel better for having said something uplifting, positive, sympathetic, or socially acceptable. It’s antiphonal, like the “god bless you” after someone sneezes.

And, for the record, I have probably said every single one of them myself at one time or another.

But as the recipient of them after my diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy for metastatic primary peritoneal cancer, I felt like I was listening to some foreign language. I have even questioned if I really said some of those things that now make me feel like Charlie Brown listening to his mother’s distorted ..wah,..wah…wah…

I’ve heard excited reports from people who said they knew a person who had exactly (strong emphasis on “exactly”) what I have and “she’s been just fine for 20 years.”

There was [...] continue the story

Sharsheret Anniversary

November 1, 2011

Dear Friends:

This year, I was blessed to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of my youngest son. I recall vividly the day I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time 10 years ago, and the prayer I kept repeating that I would live to witness my children, then 3 and 5 years old, celebrate the milestones that we all cherish – birthdays, graduations, weddings.

This year, we were also blessed to mark an incredible milestone in Sharsheret’s history – 10 years of service to the Jewish community and the cancer community. Since 2001, Sharsheret has inspired change – giving a voice to those with breast cancer in a community that spoke little, if at all, about hereditary disease. We are talking now about cancer, educating the next generation about genetics, and connecting Jewish women and families of all backgrounds with vital support during the most challenging times. Our vision for the next 10 years is even more ambitious. Our reach will expand to include women and families affected by ovarian cancer. Our programs will be firmly rooted in major Jewish communities nationwide. Our initiatives will educate thousands of Jewish families at risk of hereditary cancer. And our children and [...] continue the story

Co Survivor Story

Co-survivor: Steve K. Survivor: His daughter, Sari 

In August 2004, I heard five words I never wanted to hear from my daughter. “Daddy, I have breast cancer.” At the age of seventeen I had first heard that same horrible message: “Your mother has breast cancer.” My mom died three agonizing years later, at the age of forty-six. My grandfather told me that the worst pain known is the loss of a child. He lost his daughter, Sari, and he never fully recovered.

At the time, I didn’t think any pain could be greater than losing my mother. Now, forty years later, the unthinkable happened and my grandfather’s words leapt into my mind. What if, like my mother, my daughter (named after my mother) didn’t make it? I was overwhelmed and shaking with fear.

Sari had discovered a tender lump in her breast, but was advised by several doctors (as my mother had been) that cancer doesn’t hurt. When the lump remained after three months, Sari had her first mammogram, followed immediately by ultrasound and needle biopsy. She was 36. And she had breast cancer. Only days after her diagnosis, Sari and I walked hand-in-hand through the corridor of one of the most respected [...] continue the story