Chemo Day 25: Westchester Region of Hadassah “Hand of Healing Luncheon”

Going to the luncheon (& meet my mom)…
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After the luncheon…
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What happened in between…

We arrived at the Doubletree Hilton in Tarrytown, and were greeted by dozens of pink flamingos. I’d seen them on the invitation and I wasn’t quite sure what the deal was. I was relieved not to see pink ribbons strewn about. Apparently, they were part of a fundraiser – purchase a pink flamingo for your lawn, and a donation was made towards breast cancer research. Several women who have known me since I was “THIS big” came up to me and said that they’d been following the blog and the story in the Journal News, which was heartening to hear. Several didn’t even realize that I was wearing a wig! (YAY! Thank YOU, American Cancer Society!)

There was a lovely boutique, and some vendors has scarves and hats that would have made wonderful cover-ups, had I had the money to spend. But clearly, a lot of women were out there to support the cause and Hadassah. Once in the dining room, the afternoon began. I’ve known for years how much Hadassah Hospital has contributed to the medical arena, specifically with advances with cancer. I didn’t know, however, that Hadassah Hospital was the first to record the BRCA genetic mutation. Some other interesting factoids:

  • 1 in 8 American women will develop breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in America
  • An estimated 211,240 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer (as I was).About 40,410 women will die from the disease. (No, it’s not the “best” of the cancers to have. 1 in 5 will die from the disease.)
  • Breast cancer is the #1 cause of cancer death in Israeli women
  • In Israel, breast cancer is more prevalent in Jewish women than among non-Jewish women.
  • Ashkenazi (Jews of Eastern European descent) and Russian immigrants are at greater risk in Israel than their Sephardi (Jews of Spanish/Portuguese), Mizrahi (Jews of Middle Eastern descent) and Ethiopian counterparts.
  • Hadassah also started an initiative for high schools called CHECK IT OUT®, a health awareness education program which emphasizes the importance of becoming familiar with one’s own body in order to raise awareness and self-esteem. A program like this, of course, will encourage young women to know their breasts intimately, so when they do self-exams, they will hopefully be able to recognize subtle changes that should be shared with their doctors.

Each chapter of Hadassah had the opportunity to choose a member to honor who fought breast cancer, and while my chapter, Ahavah Hadassah, chose to honor all of its members that fought breast cancer and other cancers that affect women, they chose to give me special recognition, which was a surprise to me, and quite touching. All in all, it was a moving afternoon of solidarity with my community.

Rica Mendes

Divorced mom of two kids. Full-time marketing professional at Axxun. Mary Kay Consultant. Bike shop employee. LIVESTRONG Leader. Bike commuter. Charity cyclist. Mountain bikeracer. Blogger at Rica's Livestrong Adventures And, now, as if I didn't have enough to do, breast cancer fighter. Diagnosis: 7/19/2011. Double Mastectomy: 8/19/2011. Chemo: 9/29/2011. Head will be shaved: 10/16/2011.