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Breast cancer awareness: A shared responsibility

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and JCC Association Program Partner, Sharsheret, wants to get out the word.

And they think JCCs are one of the best places to do so.

The national not-for-profit organization supports young Jewish women of all backgrounds, and their families, when they are facing breast cancer. Their mission is to offer a community of support to women, of all Jewish backgrounds, diagnosed with breast cancer or who are at increased genetic risk.

During October and throughout the year, educational presentations, women’s fitness events, healthy cooking demonstrations and other offerings can provide JCC participants, and the wider community, with life-saving information and opportunities to mitigate their cancer risk.

“Jewish Community Centers are uniquely positioned to provide culturally-relevant education as well as health and wellness opportunities,” according to Melissa K. Rosen, Sharsheret’s director of national outreach. “The partnership between the JCC Association and Sharsheret is one that has the ability to raise awareness and ultimately save lives.”

They’re also the perfect place and for getting out the message: one in 40 Jews of Ashkenazi descent carries a BRCA (breast cancer) gene mutation, compared to one in 345 in the general population, making Jewish families 10 times more susceptible to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. As well, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime, more than 13,000 women under 40 are diagnosed annually, and nearly 1,200 under 40 die from breast cancer each year

“As a Program Partner Sharsheret can assist JCCs with program development and provide free educational resources for participants,” says Steve Becker, JCC Association vice president of health and wellness. “JCCs can make use of Sharsheret and, as a Program Partner, Sharsheret will waive speaker fees for presentations at any member organization.”

To learn more contact Melissa K. Rosen, director of national outreach.

And for to see what some JCCs are doing starting this month, here’s a sampling:

Adolph & Rose Levis JCC, Boca Raton; Florida
The Levis JCC Zale Early Childhood Learning Center participates in a community walk against breast cancer. In November, Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s Mammovan will be on site at the J for screenings

JCC New Orleans, Louisiana
Pink Fridays allow participants to support the fight against breast cancer by wearing something pink every Friday in October.

Jewish Community Center of St. Louis; Missouri
The J partners with Sharsheret to bring Geralyn Lucas, best selling author of Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy. The program also offers an ongoing, weekly support group for survivors and those in treatment; a by-appointment buddy system paring survivors with the newly diagnosed; an ambassador program designed to increase awareness of hereditary breast cancer.

Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, Tenafly; New Jersey
Spin4Sharsheret is a special indoor cycling class aimed at raising funds for and awareness of the disease.

Mandel JCC, Boynton Beach, Florida
Pink Ribbon Wellness Club provides a 12-week breast cancer survivor’s wellness plan.

Mayerson JCC, Cincinnati, Ohio
JCC Mercy health speaker series—Mercy Health and Mayerson JCC offer a relaxed, interactive discussion focused breast cancer detection. Mercy Health breast cancer surgeon and medical director of breast surgery will lead the discussion and Q&A. The mobile health mammography unit will be on site before the event.

Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center; North Miami Beach, Florida
Spin class, discussion about breast cancer in the Jewish community, and information about local resources.

Peninsula JCC
PJCC’s annual fundraiser in support of all who are touched by breast cancer. Includes CanCan™ Health: Breast Health Education, the Bay Area premiere of the documentary PINK & BLUE: Colors of Hereditary Cancer and Pink Ribbon Day, featuring keynote presentation: “BRCA Basics: Research, Testing, and Surviving”, genetic testing with Color Genomics, Workouts for a Cause, and more.

Worcester JCC
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk—Team Worcester JCC participates in a community walk.

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