By Deb Silverthorn
The Aaron Family JCC of Dallas, in partnership with Sharsheret, will host “How Do You Wear Your Genes,” a lunch and learn about hereditary cancer, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, in the Zale Auditorium. Later that evening, Sharsheret will host an “Evening of Improv & Laughter,” at 6:30 p.m. at Four Day Weekend comedy club, 5601 Sears St. in Dallas. Both programs are open to the public.
“Together again — wow!,” said Lizzy Rosenberg Greif, a member of Sharsheret’s national board of directors and, with Kim Korenvaes Stein, co-chair of the “Evening of Improv & Laughter.” The pair hopes the whole community will turn out. “While Sharsheret holds a cultural sensitivity to its Jewish connections, Sharsheret is here for everyone and nearly 25-percent of those they serve are not Jewish,” Greif said.
Nearly two decades ago, Greif introduced Sharsheret to the Dallas community, initially after her sister Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer passed away and with even greater fervor after losing her sister Sheri Rosenberg. Both women fought valiant battles against breast cancer.
“We know that even our virtual programs have been a success because of the numbers of people reaching out to Sharsheret, but to be together in-person again to be with one another, is really so special,” said Greif
Sharsheret, a national nonprofit organization, improves the lives of Jewish women, men and their families living with or at increased genetic risk for breast or ovarian cancer through personalized support and educational outreach. Statistics show one in 40 Ashkenazi Jews — both men and women — carry BRCA mutation. The mens Jewish families are at 10 times greater risk for hereditary breast, ovarian, melanoma, pancreatic, prostate and male breast cancers related to the mutation. Women and men reaching out to Sharsheret can benefit from free and confidential emotional support; mental health counseling with trained social workers; genetic consultations with a certified genetic counselor; financial assistance; and lifesaving education.
“There are so many in our community who don’t know enough about hereditary cancers and Jewish women and men are at such risk,” said Ela Bilgrin, the J’s membership director. “We are honored to have Sharsheret’s CEO, Elana Silber, who will speak to us as part of the J’s month of breast cancer awareness and support programming.”
The J has been offering breast cancer-related exercise programs throughout October with exercise and information. On Thursday, Oct. 20, “Pink Out Day,” guests are requested to wear pink. From 12 to 12:30 p.m. there will be a Queenaex Superefunctional total body pop-up class. Later, there will be a a Breast Cancer Survivor Yoga class at 2:15 p.m. The yoga class will be held Tuesday, Oct. 25 and Thursday, Oct. 27, as well.
Stein, who at 39 was diagnosed with Triple Positive, Stage II breast cancer, identified as “pregnancy related,” when her children were 4, 2 and nearly 4 months old. She, Greif and their husbands, Dr. Jaryd Stein and Dr. Jules Greif, have planned the evening event with committee members Morgan Aaron, Zoe and A.J. Magid, Danielle and Dr. Ranan Mendelsberg, Adriana and Dana Meyerovitz, Elaine and Trevor Pearlman, Elana and Frankie Shulkin, Ben and Mimi Slater, Jody and Kyle Stein and Traci and Caperton White.
“We are so happy to be here, to be back in-person and to be able to share with patients, their loved ones, with people who might someday become connected to this difficult-to-navigate arena,” said Stein. “Breast cancer, the cancers of women, it’s awful but the support of Sharsheret to patients and those standing with them makes it bearable.”
Stein and Sarah Weiwel Rasbold, found themselves connected through similar experiences: a rare, unique and trying diagnosis and journey through cancer.
At the evening program, it is Rasbold who will inspire and educate.
“Sharsheret is such a high quality, amazing organization, and I am honored to share my story with your community,” said Rasbold. “They truly do such a wonderful job of helping women wherever they are in their journey. Whether it be financial resources, speaking to a counselor, finding a peer support group or toys for children to play with while their mothers are going through chemo. They are very thoughtful of what women actually need.”
Now living in Oklahoma City, Rasbold returns to Dallas once a month for continued treatment. Calling the Metroplex “incredibly well-resourced,” Rasbold celebrated her four-years cancer-free anniversary in August. She is grateful for the team at Baylor Dallas that has kept her healthy.
“I’ve been very blessed and I’m grateful to be here to share my story. Fertility treatment takes such a toll on your body, hormones, emotions and, as anyone who has been through IVF knows, your wallet,” said Rasbold who was able to freeze her eggs before her chemotherapy. “Most insurance companies don’t cover it, even ahead of chemo. I’m grateful to organizations like Sharsheret that are bringing awareness and resources to women and men who want to preserve their fertility ahead of treatment.”
Rasbold’s cousin and life-long friend, Kiley Davis, is honoring Rasbold and her husband Stephen as their gestational carrier. Their single embryo transfer split, and twins are expected in April.
Following Rasbold, the comedic artistry of Four Day Weekend will entertain. For 25 years, its cast has entertained local audiences with an award-winning comedy improv show.
“Our impact and support services in Dallas have been so important. Whether online, or in-person, we are touching people and they are touching us. We are thrilled to host these events as it helps to advance our message that Sharsheret is here and Sharsheret can help you and your family, every step of the way,” said Silber
For more information about Sharsheret, go to Sharsheret.org. To register for the JCC event (the only cost for the daytime program is an optional kosher lunch meal — no outside food is permitted), visit jccdallas.org/awareness and, to register for the evening event at Four Day Weekend, visit tinyurl.com/Sharsheret-Dallas-Evening.