February 2022

02/01/2022

 

UPCOMING JALBCA PROGRAMS AND EVENTS

JALBCA SUPPORT GROUP MEETINGS

Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Thursday, April 7, 2022

All from 6-7:00 p.m., by Zoom

JALBCA is pleased to announce that it has established a Support Group for members of the legal community and their loved ones who have been touched by breast cancer. The group meets by Zoom from 6-7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month.

Please join us to share your experiences and feelings in an inclusive and confidential environment with JALBCA members and other legal professionals and their loved ones who recently have been diagnosed with breast cancer and/or are breast cancer survivors and/or have otherwise been touched by breast cancer.
To register and receive the Zoom link for any Support Group meeting, please email JALBCA Executive Director Claire Gutekunst at cgutekunst@nulljalbca.org by noon on the day of the meeting.

Family Caregivers: Unpaid. Overworked. Underappreciated.
How To Succeed Without Becoming Patient #2

Free Webinar – Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 6-7:30 p.m.

One in five (21%) Americans report they are currently providing care for a family member, friend or neighbor, and nearly 60% of those caregivers report they’ve shouldered new or expanded responsibilities during the pandemic, according to a 2021 Northwestern Mutual study. Caregivers play a critical role in the success of tending to a seriously ill patient but often focus so much on the patient that they unknowingly neglect their own mental and physical health. AARP reports that 23% of Americans say caregiving has made their own health worse.

Join us for an illuminating discussion with experts on caregiving, who will share:

• Methods for caregivers to become more efficient in carrying out responsibilities
• Strategies to alleviate risks to health and well-being
• Resources to support caregiver health and to obtain more help with duties

Moderator:
Peter J. Strauss, Esq., Senior Partner, Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC; Director, JALBCA; Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law, New York Law School

Participants:
Rev. Gregory Johnson, Inter-faith Minister for Family Caregiving; Chief Advisor for Family Caregiving, Office of the CEO, EmblemHealth
Samuel A. Simon, playwright & author, The Actual Dance: Love’s Ultimate Journey Through Breast Cancer
Sheila Warnock, Founder & CEO, ShareTheCaregiving Inc.; Co-author, Share The Care

Free and open to the public
Register here https://bit.ly/3B1Fruk

The Actual Dance: Love’s Ultimate Journey
a play in one act by Samuel A. Simon

February 23, 2022 at 6:00 p.m., by Zoom

The play is about Sam’s life as a caregiver (his term is “love partner”) for his wife Susan during her struggle with breast cancer. Following the broadcast of the play, there will be a “talkback” where Peter Strauss will interview Sam and Susan, who will speak about their personal experiences.

Free and open to the public
Register here https://bit.ly/3s4sc7T

25th Annual Ellen P. Hermanson Memorial Symposium
What’s All the Buzz about Alcohol and Breast Cancer?

Tuesday, March 15, 2022, 5:30-8:00 p.m., by Zoom & in person
The Symposium will kick off with an update on developments relating to breast cancer presented by Dr. Larry Norton, Senior Vice President; Medical Director, Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center; and Norna S. Sarofim Chair of Clinical Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Following Dr. Norton’s presentation, medical and legal experts will “testify” at a mock public hearing concerning proposed government action to protect the health of “Gotham’s” citizens in response to the reported scientific connection between alcohol consumption and breast cancer.
Free and open to the public. Registration information to follow.

Awards Presentation Dinner & 30th Anniversary Celebration

May 9, 2022, in person at The Ziegfeld Ballroom
Cocktails at 6:00 p.m., Dinner at 7:00 p.m.
Honorees and sponsorship options will be announced soon!

JALBCA’S OCTOBER PROGRAMS

JALBCA sponsored three programs during breast cancer awareness month, this past October.

“Cancer: It’s Not Just Physical”

“Cancer: It’s Not Just Physical”, scheduled on October 12, 2021, was a discussion focused on the emotional ramifications of a cancer diagnosis. This included how to help patients and their caregivers learn about the typical sequence of emotions experienced at diagnosis, treatment and beyond, understand the science behind those emotions as well as how the disease and its treatment contribute to the psychological experience, and discover how to cope with it all.

Hon. Linda M. Capitti – Moderator

The program was moderated by Hon. Linda M. Capitti, Family Court Judge Kings County. The presenters consisted of Cynthia Hayes, author of “The Big Ordeal, Understanding and Managing the Psychological Turmoil of Cancer”; Alyson Moadell-Robblee, PhD, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Director, BOLD, Cancer Wellness Program, Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center; and Moya M. O’Connor, Trial Attorney at Zurich North America. Sixteen other bar associations and other organizations co-sponsored the program with JALBCA.

Cynthia Hayes discussed how to take care of ourselves and those diagnosed with cancer. She told the audience that she was a survivor, volunteer and advocate and was good at asking questions. Ms. Hayes had learned that one can get information by asking questions, then synthesize it and share it with others. She wrote her book because she felt isolated – which surprised her – during her cancer experience. She was also taken aback by the lack of conversation she had with her medical providers about her emotional wellness – no one asked her if she was experiencing anxiety, depression, chemo-fog or the like. That lack of conversation led her to think she alone experienced these feelings. She came to learn that others going through cancer treatment experienced the same feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety and chemo-fog, albeit people with different cancer diagnoses and treatments.

For her book, Cynthia interviewed over 100 cancer patients, primarily in the United States, and, also, psychologists, oncologists and other medical specialists, including a neuroscientist. Most importantly, she learned cancer is emotional for a number for reasons. She first described the external reasons: the diagnosis, for starters, historically has been a death sentence. It is the fear of death that instantly triggers a “flight or fight” response. Next, there is the sense that the patient is responsible for her cancer. This combined with the stigma and shame of cancer and its treatment, particularly as to body parts that people do not talk about. The discomfort dealing with a new doctor is another factor. Lastly, there is a tremendous complexity surrounding treatment, whether treatment will work and whether the cancer will recur.

Internally, the patient’s body chemistry changes – inflammation, cytokines (which can become unbalanced) and fatigue. Each patient has her own emotional roller coaster as she deals with fear, stress, anxiety, anger, shock and disbelief, information overload at the outset, loss of control over her own life and body, cognitive impairment ailments, a sense of helplessness and a great sense of loss. Emotional recovery only follows after physical recovery.

These emotions are felt by most cancer patients, and it is questionable whether the patient can acknowledge it to him/herself, much less express these emotions to others. This is not because of weakness but because of the side effects of cancer and treatment. It is important to understand that cancer is an emotional diagnosis so that we can help ourselves cope with that diagnosis.

Additionally, Cynthia discussed the fact that intimate relationships are hard – physically and emotionally. They take a hit because of the emotional rollercoaster patients endure. A lot of feelings are withheld from others. Self-image issues interfere with the ability to be open with others. Also, the patient often worries about the impact on family and friends and whether they should be burdened. These are only examples of how relationships can be impacted.

Cynthia addressed how a person copes with cancer and gets beyond a diagnosis of cancer. Each person has different coping mechanisms which derive from our genetic makeup, our past experiences, and those around the patient. There are various types of coping mechanisms: cognitive, physical (e.g., watch videos that make you laugh) and mind-body (e.g., mindfulness, prayer).

Cynthia Hayes

Finally, Cynthia emphasized that a patient has to own the cancer experience, manage it one step at a time and just accept it. Other advice would be to ask questions, ask for help, and perhaps share emotions and experiences and advocate for oneself (where you acknowledge you are the expert in you) which sometimes results in receiving better care. It is important to have support, in whatever form, e.g., support groups. The only right way to cope is the way that works for you.

Dr. Alyson Moadell-Robblee, a psychologist, was the next presenter. She spoke about the narrative of cancer. Instead of looking at the small waves noted by Cynthia Hayes, she spoke about the big wave. She noted that, with a diagnosis, there is an invisible walkway taking a person from being part of the world of health to being in the world of the sick. She had watched her mother at age 43 (diagnosed at 31) go through cancer. One sometimes hears about the strength of the patient fighting; the feeling of gratification and sometimes people say they feel blessed as the cancer experience serves as a wake-up call and allows the person to examine his/her life and decide how to live it, with a new knowledge of how precious it is. The cancer narrative, she explained, is dualistic – you can be a fighter one day and discouraged the next. It is about acknowledging the narrative and feeding narratives that bring peace, joy or happiness to you. What is your narrative? You want to grab hold of it to empower yourself and, if it disempowers you, then you may want to find help to change this.

As she explained, grief is something you endure, and it alters you. How does one re-write one’s story? One must acknowledge the darkness and grief; allow and accept it and speak to it; relate to it rather than identify with it; and separate yourself from the cancer. She remarked that it will push back and fight for your attention. It is hard to re-write your narrative, she acknowledged. A lot of it is mindfulness. Those are the rules. Keep repeating the process as it is never completed. While you sometimes feel you are moving backward, backsliding is natural. In reality, you are moving ahead. As the small waves ripple, you get to choose the big wave of pushing the narrative you want. Words are powerful, so speak to yourself with love, gentleness and empowerment.

The final speaker was Moya O’Connor, an attorney and two-year breast cancer survivor. She refers to having “had” breast cancer and currently being a survivor. Moya explained that when she was diagnosed in June 2019, she felt she was at a peak in her life, both physically (she was a runner) and career-wise. She was surprised by a cancer diagnosis, and her initial response was to question why she was being punished. She expected to push through cancer in her usual style and followed her doctor’s instructions. Moya’s perspective is that cancer was good for her – in that it put a battery in her back. She now adds to her resume by citing she is a breast cancer survivor and marvels at how amazing it is to beat cancer. She noted, though, that the experience is a personal one and that there is a fear of recurrence. Moya tries now to live her life to the fullest – she spends time with people who she values and who value her.
A question and answer period ensued.

Cynthia was asked what surprised her the most. She answered that this was the extent to which emotions are a predictable part of the cancer experience and the many coping mechanisms people employ. Alyson added that it is appropriate to grieve and be sad if you learn you have an unfavorable prognosis but, still, you need to look at the big picture and examine how you will embrace your life. Denial is an adaptive coping mechanism but it can prevent one from reaching post-traumatic growth.

The presenters were then asked about the role of exercise. Cynthia said she learned exercise is very important because it helps reset the balance in your body. She asked the audience to imagine, given the fact that the immune system generates both inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines for a mere paper cut, what a massive surgery does to the body’s cytokine activity. She said that so many aspects of treatment cause pro-inflammatory cytokine activity, which gets translated in the brain as “go back to bed and stay there”, that the body tells us to lay low. Some rest is fine since the patient needs to recover, but some of the message is an overreaction to the cancer. One way to overcome is through exercise. She added that research shows that emotional health can increase physical health.

Alyson Moadell-Robblee, PhD

Members from the audience also posed questions. The first question was what family and friends could do to support a patient. Moya answered that they may accompany the person on appointments and that it is paramount to show up. Cynthia added that people should show up, not just on the day of treatment, but even after treatment is completed. Allison agreed, emphasizing that people should be specific when they ask how they can help, e.g., can I take your laundry? can I take your kids to help you? can I cook you dinner? Avoid asking generally, “(i)s there anything I can do?” In addition, family and friends should not just show up and take charge because the patient does not want to lose control.

The panel was asked how the Covid pandemic has affected the mental health of those dealing with cancer. Alyson noted that she currently is conducting research on this. She referred to tele-health visits and the masking and distance of health care providers as exacerbating a lack of connection and further fracturing the doctor-patient relationship. Alyson noted the present crisis in health care, referencing understaffing and burnout, which compounds the isolation and fear discussed earlier in the program. However, there is a lot of support that is available virtually. Cynthia followed up that one benefit of Covid is that so many support programs have moved on-line and some people who would not have had access to them now have such access.

Another person questioned Moya on what she does for her self-care. She explained that she recently became a homeowner and this allowed her to create a place of peace at home. She has made her house as comfortable as possible, has resumed running to keep fit, and tries to have as much fun as possible. Alyson added the analogy to a plane – passengers are told to put on your oxygen mask first and so, for a cancer patient, you first must take care of yourself.

Next, the panelists were asked how to assist people who are diagnosed at a young age. Alyson acknowledged this is difficult. Each patient has to find her own people, i.e., those who have been through it and understand it since you need to know you are not alone. Since there are a great many people diagnosed at a young age, she explained that Montefiore Einstein Cancer Center has started a young survivor support group. She instructed people not to surround themselves with people who say “poor you” – you are more than a person with a cancer diagnosis. Therefore, you may require some space from people you love and create some kind of buffer for yourself if they look at you this way. Your narrative about yourself should be, “this is not what I expected, this is really hard, this is not what I wanted”, as these words do not hurt you as much. Young Survivor Coalition group is also a resource for younger patients.

Another member of the audience questioned whether someone would write a book on parenting or raising a special needs child through treatment. It was noted that one of the things about cancer is it is so time-consuming and fatiguing and, at the same time, it requires so much energy to raise children. Alyson mentioned that there are books on how to talk to your kids about cancer, but admittedly parenting is a whole other topic.

Moya M. O’Connor

People wondered how the panelists sustained their spirits throughout the ordeal. Cynthia responded that sometimes she was overwhelmed and needed a shoulder to cry on, even if your family/spouse believes in you. She sought as many hugs as she could muster from others and laughter as well, until the reserves felt replenished, and releasing the anguish when the need arose. Moya added that, when first diagnosed, she sat on a couch and was numb. She hesitated to speak to others because she did not want them to feel sorry for her. She cried when she was alone, but needed to open up to those with whom she was close so as not to be alone with her new situation.

Yet another question dealt with body image issues given the physical toll on appearance that is taken by cancer treatment. Moya responded that she focused on the fact that she was alive rather than the need to get in shape. Cynthia acknowledged she too had body image issues – the chemotherapy resulted in baldness, eye irritation, chemo-brain, and not feeling as fit as she was previously. However, she also said there came a time when she switched from feeling sorry for herself to feeling thrilled to be alive. As one physically recovers, one begins to have the emotional resilience to deal with body image issues.

Finally, a member of the audience asked if a referral to a mental health professional goes hand in hand with a cancer diagnosis. Alyson thought everyone should be offered this in order to have someone listen to them with total compassion and no judgment. Everyone wants to be validated. This should be at every cancer center. Cynthia agreed and confirmed that even doctors who are aware of the mental health component do not necessarily tell their patients about the availability of mental health care. Consistent with the theme of the program, she noted that cancer is an emotional diagnosis and a physical diagnosis. Doctors should acknowledge this.

“Feel For Your Life”

“Feel For Your Life” was an October 19, 2021 JALBCA program. This is the name of a social media outreach project that includes an App developed by special presenter Jessica Baladad, its Founder and Chief Advocate. The project was developed by her to educate about breast cancer and encourage regular self-breast exams and connect its users with a compassionate community. JALBCA sponsored the program in association with The Staten Island Women’s Bar Association, Westchester Women’s Bar Association, Staten Island Gender Fairness Committee and Queens County Gender Fairness Committee of the Supreme, Criminal and Civil Courts.

Jessica Baladad

Jessica is a health advocate and breast cancer survivor and encourages others to be their own best advocates. She shared the details of her journey during the evening program.

Her story started in 2003 when she was 18, ready to start her freshman year in college. She felt a lump in her breast. She is the 4th generation on her father’s side to have breast cancer. Jessica was forced to transition from seeing a pediatrician to seeing an oncologist. Initially, her condition was diagnosed as merely a cyst. As time passed, she noticed the lump was more prominent and she pursued it, learning she had a solid mass. She had a tumor removed and it was diagnosed as benign, but this led her to doing self-breast examinations regularly and getting checked out annually. Years later, her own self-breast exam revealed a lump in the other breast, by which time she was in her 30s, and this was right after having had a clinical breast exam at which no finding was made. More months passed, and she noticed she needed naps during the day, which naps were getting longer and longer. She went back to the same clinic but saw a different physician to explore the lump and this provider arranged for the scheduling of a mammogram because of a smooth, firm and dense lump. The physician told her something she had never been told in a doctor’s office, to the effect that God would get her through this. The doctor also asked, “Can I pray over you?”, another first for her.

During the mammogram and sonogram the radiologist told her it was probably cancer. Jessica said she felt some relief because now there was a name to what was going on. She asked for some help to talk to her family, with whom she had not prepped for what to expect. Jessica had lost many members on her father’s side of the family to breast cancer. In fact, she was losing one such family member at the same time that her diagnosis was being confirmed and her family was dealing with her new situation.

Rian Silverman

Rian Silverman

Jessica went through the full range of procedures, including chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy. In speaking with her friends, she learned they were not doing self-breast exams. Jessica generally conducted self-exams in the shower, and it occurred to her to come up with the name “feel for your life”. It started as a social media project. During the pandemic, Jessica decided to develop an App on how to do self-breast exams, monitor and track their changes and keep notes to communicate with doctors. The App took eight to nine months to develop, at the same time that she underwent certain surgical procedures. The App is intended as a resource.

Jessica does not want women lulled into inaction just because of their young age.
Younger women under 40 may face a bit of a battle to go for a mammogram or be referred for a sonogram. Doctors, who may feel accountable to administrators and insurance companies, may be resistant. She noted that the gene mutation in her relatives might be related to the coal mining area that her family came from.

To learn about and access the App Jessica created about breast self-examinations and other breast cancer-related issues, go to www.feelforyourlife.com/app

“Listen to Your Body Talk: Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer Awareness”

The third and final program JALBCA sponsored during October 2021 was “Listen to Your Body Talk: Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer Awareness”. The October 26 program focused on these objectives:

• learn about breast and ovarian cancers from the unique perspective of survivors
• learn about risks, treatments, early detection, doctor-patient relationships and much more
• become empowered about your health

Amanda Norejko

The program featured four speakers: Theresa Drescher, Author, Motivational Speaker, and Personal Coach, volunteer for breast cancer helpline at SHARE; Andrea Herzberg, former news reporter, 26-year veteran of the NYPD, retired sergeant of Special Victims Unit, coordinator for ovarian cancer helpline at SHARE; Susan Broderick, Program Director at the National District Attorney’s Association and author of the soon to be published book “Make Mine A Double,” and breast cancer survivor; and Amanda Norejko, President, NYWBA, and ovarian cancer survivor. Amanda served as moderator and started the program by describing her own treatment, which started in 2019.

The first speaker was Susan Broderick who has written about how she was impacted twice by breast cancer. Su-san was a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for 14 years, a job with a lot of inherent stress, and she developed optic neuritis during this time, which is a stress-related condition. In 2005, her mom was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer though there was no family history of this. This condition is normally fatal but was caught early and her mother lived for many more years. In 2007, Susan noticed a dimpling under her breast and, via a computer search, she learned it was a symptom of breast cancer. A negative mammography did not satisfy her and she underwent a sonogram, where the radiologist saw something she noted as “highly suspicious for malignancy”. A lumpectomy and radiation followed.

Susan Broderick

In 2009, she felt something on the outside of her breast, which she pursued. Doctors can be dismissive – she was told that it was probably scar tissue. She insisted on a biopsy and the resulting diagnosis was cancer. The doctor was shocked, he said, and noted the tumor was “tiny”. He recommended a double mastectomy and she had this performed. Nothing was as important to her as speaking with survivors – hope, she said, is a game-changer. She said the power of the human spirit has an impact on healing, and providing people with hope and support is necessary as is the power of perspective, i.e., seeing facts in a positive, not negative, way. She feels blessed she was able to save her life two times and wants to share her story with other women. She is about to publish her book, “Make Mine A Double”, about surviving both alcoholism and breast cancer.

Theresa Drescher and Andrea Herzberg are representatives from SHARE. Theresa started at SHARE as a volun-teer and Andrea coordinates the SHARE cancer support toll-free ovarian helpline. Each told their story. Andrea spoke about the pink-and-teal presentation for breast and ovarian cancers. Ovarian cancer is a real eye-opener and a tricky disease, she said. Thankfully it is much rarer than breast cancer. Theresa is a 22-year breast cancer survivor. Her story started on a business trip. She flew home and saw a breast surgeon, which resulted in a diagnosis of DCIS (ductal carcinoma in-situ), a/k/a, stage zero. She then increased her screenings to twice annually and started on tamoxifen as a preventative. She participated in a study and test results were positive for breast cancer and, after obtaining a second opinion, she underwent surgery 22 years ago. Theresa explained that there was a lot of family history of breast cancer though she had not known much about it.

She sought to educate the audience as to what facts about breast cancer would be helpful to know. She reminded everyone that, statistically, the chance is 1 in 8 of a woman in the U.S. being diagnosed with breast cancer. It is dangerous because the cells can break away from the breast and travel elsewhere, thereby making treatment more difficult. She described the risks: gender (women are more likely to be diagnosed than men); age (risk increases with age, most being diagnosed over age 55); genetics (someone with a mutation of BRCA1 or BRCA2 is also at in-creased risk for breast, ovarian and colon cancers); long menstrual history; and ethnicity (Caucasian women have a slightly higher risk but people of color do not seem to do as well). The big takeaway from her presentation was that no one is immune to getting this cancer. Hormone replacement therapy, excessive alcohol use, lack of physical activity or exercise, not having children or having children when over the age of 35 and not breast feeding are all risks. She cautioned the audience to avoid the use of hormone replacement therapies, to maintain a healthy body weight and, if you have children, to consider breast feeding them.

Certain symptoms of the disease were reviewed: lump mass; swollen, red or hot breast; skin irritation or dimpling of skin; breast or nipple pain; inverted nipple if not normal for you; a discharge other than breast milk; and swelling under the arm where lymph nodes are located. These symptoms need to be investigated quickly, preferably by a breast surgeon. And she cautioned that not having any symptoms or known risk factors does not provide a free pass. Women should talk to their doctor to obtain a needed plan for breast health.

Screening techniques were also reviewed, with mammograms being the gold standard, and sonograms and MRIs also being available. The various screening guidelines are available at https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/pdf/breast-cancer-screening-guidelines-508.pdf. Certain organizations recommend screening for women age 40 to ? of average risk and others recommend screening for women age 50 to 76 of average risk. The various organizations whose guidelines are available at the above-cited CDC cite are these: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, American Cancer Society, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, International Agency for Research on Cancer, American College of Radiology, American College of Physicians, and American Academy of Family Physicians.

Andrea Herzberg, age 65, was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer decades ago. Ovarian cancer used to be called the silent killer or the disease that whispers and one has to be lucky to find it early. She described her symptoms which occurred at age 39 – above her bellybutton it looked like a faucet was poking out and the area was bloated; her pants were not zipping up; and her bowels went haywire. She and her primary care doctor thought it could be gastro-intestinal (her father had died of colon cancer). She went to a gastroenterologist for a trans-vaginal ultrasound which resulted in the ovarian cancer diagnosis. She was then put in touch with two gynecological oncologists. When you hear the word “suspicious” you ask your regular gynecologist for a referral to a gynecological oncologist. If it is a malignancy, these are the specialists to see and outcomes are better. Doctors also understand that patients obtain second opinions and no one’s feelings are hurt. Andrea is proud to have participated in clinical trials at an intermediary point – it did not result in a great find for humanity though she learned something for her-self, which was that she was able to cease her chemotherapy. Andrea and Theresa ride on the shoulders of the women who participated in past clinical trials.

Andrea reviewed the symptoms people may notice of ovarian cancer: bloating; pelvic or abdominal pain; difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; urinary symptoms – going to the bathroom with great urgency or frequency; fatigue; indigestion; back pain; constipation; pain during intercourse or menstrual irregularities. The U.S. statistic for women to get ovarian cancer is 1 in 78. Some of the risk factors for this cancer include age (median age is 63 but there is apparently a higher risk for those 55 or older) and a personal history of premenopausal breast cancer. Andrea indicated that she has the BRCA2 mutation and is Ashkenazi Jewish on both her maternal and paternal sides and the risk for those with the BRCA mutation is 1 in 40. But there are other relevant mutations besides BRCA1 and BRCA2, such as Lynch Syndrome. She stated that all genetic mutations account for, at best, 25% of ovarian cancer cases so the remaining 75% are random.

Andrea Herzberg

Andrea Herzberg

One way to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer is to use oral contraceptives for five years or more, which drops the risk by as much as 50%. The explanation, she believes, is that oral contraceptives interrupt ovulation. De-creased risk is also evidenced in women who have one or more children, breast feed or have prophylactic surgery. There is no reliable early detection test that exists for ovarian cancer. Women should know their family history.

Theresa described the empowered patient. The most important take-away, she said, is that women must communicate with their doctors, without which they are left merely with their medical chart. Doctors need to hear your concerns and what you are experiencing, provide medical information in an understandable language, draw pictures if this is needed for understanding, and respond to questions. Women should write down what is said (since it is easy to forget). Women should take someone to appointments or, if this is not possible, there are other options: record the appointment (tell your doctor you want to do this), or have someone call into the doctor’s office when you are there on speakerphone so they are in the appointment with you, or get a second opinion. Patients should spread out the scheduling of medical visits so that every three to four months someone is observing their health. At appointments, women need to explain everything so that someone always knows your status. In summary, she said, knowledge is power.

Some time was available at the end of the program for mention of the relevance of sugar. Basically, though fruits and vegetables have natural sugar, no one would advise a patient to eat white sugar. It is necessary to have a healthy, balanced diet (which includes a limitation on alcohol and processed meats) and exercise. As an aside, being significantly overweight raises the risk for uterine cancer, which is more common than ovarian cancer. The relevance of weight control, therefore, is not limited to only ovarian cancer.

“Words Matter: Resilience” Theater Benefit on November 4, 2021”

On November 4, 2021, The Workshop Theater presented “Words Matter,” a one-night-only live streaming performance of four new plays inspired by the word “Resilience.” Over 50 friends of JALBCA who donated over $3,800 to support legal services for low-income women and families in crisis from breast cancer were privileged to watch stellar actors perform groundbreaking plays by award-winning playwrights.

Playwrights Sam Chanze, Ellen McLaughlin, Rehana Lew Mirza and Caridad Svich created powerful, intensely personal plays and the extraordinary actors brought their words to life and drew us in to care about the characters and hope they can find a way to get through it all. The stellar actors of the stage and small and large screen who movingly inhabited the roles included Daphne Rubin-Vega, Ato Essendoh, Laura Gómez, Jennifer Ikeda, Patch Darragh, April Matthis, Taylor Schilling and Jeanine Serralles. (You can read bios of the playwrights and actors at https://www.workshoptheater.org/whats-happening/words-matter-resilience)

Clockwise from top left: Philip Callen, Dani Joseph, Virginia Trunkes, Rehana Lew Mirza and Laura Gómez.

After the performance, The Workshop Theater’s Director of Literary Development Dani Joseph led an insightful conversation with playwright Rehana Lew Mirza, actor Laura Gómez, General Manager Philip Callen and JALBCA Vice President Virginia Trunkes. JALBCA is very grateful to The Workshop Theater Artistic Director Thomas Coté, Philip Callen and all the playwrights, actors and production staff for creating such a wonderful evening of theater to benefit low-income women and families in crisis from breast cancer and to enrich our lives.

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