Girls as young as 14 who are exposed to chemotherapy for treating breast cancer, Hodgkin's disease, and other non-malignant diseases such as lupus, put their reproductive system at risk. The chemotherapy can trigger premature menopause and leave women infertile.
Although they live more than 12,000 miles apart, Yosef Eliezrie and Moshe Price have a lot in common. In October 2006, Eliezrie received a bone marrow transplant provided by Price. It was his only hope for survival after a recurrence of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a fast-growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow. This month, Eliezrie got the chance to meet Price in person, thank him for his lifesaving gift and embark on a unique new friendship.
While within the general population about 5 percent of cancers can be attributed to a hereditary syndrome, in the Jewish community, that number is closer to 30 percent. The good news is that knowledge about how the mutation causes cancer is opening scientific doors to more effective, targeted treatment for those already diagnosed. And people who have the genetic mutation can take preventative measures to drastically reduce their breast and ovarian cancer risk.
Shortly after Janet Halbert completed treatment for breast cancer in 2005, a friend was diagnosed with the disease. The friend asked Halbert if she had any tips for easing the chemotherapy experience. "I told her I had some products and some ideas and things that might be helpful," Halbert said.
My girlfriend "E" was the first to declare what others had been observing for a while. "God sure is having a good laugh," she said. "You write a column called 'A Woman's Voice.' And yet you have no voice". The irony had crossed my mind.
The upfsherin (hair cutting ceremony) took place on the last day of Shevat -- an auspicious time for a healing ritual. The day before Rosh Chodesh (first day of the month) is observed, in the medieval mystical practice of Yom Kippur katan (little Yom Kippur) -- a day for cleansing, purification, and preparation -- just what shaving my head represented, as I began my fifth week of chemotherapy.
"The black-and-white snapshots revealed little worlds and scenes I wanted to bring alive in color," said Shelley Adler, whose "Shades of Time: The Extended Family of Shelley Adler" runs through July 1 at the Workmen's Circle.
Jana Rosenblatt's founding partners in Five Chicks Unlimited are four local businesswomen who have been touched by cancer. They bring expertise in finance, product research, Web design and customer service to the site.
"Welcome home, Marlene. It's about time you joined my family," my father said. He was greeting the news that well into the age of wisdom, I've finally begun eating sardines.
There's nothing like completing chemotherapy to spice up a birthday party. Last weekend, 40 of my dearest friends performed a commemorative Havdalah ceremony to mark a really great CT scan and year 53. My "re-birthday" celebration was just the ticket, restorative not only for me but also for the extended community that has seen me through my struggle with lung cancer.
No matter how well things go in chemotherapy, the truth is, cancer always makes new demands on you. You can't afford to be a k'nocker, pretending you know what you're doing or what you're ready for. It's not as if you are in charge.
I am determined to learn nothing from my cancer. Last month, I had lung surgery known as a thoracotomy. A cancerous tumor in my lower left lobe is gone. I'll have chemotherapy, and pretty soon I'll be bald. That's all I care to know about this completely hideous, unprovoked and unpredictable disease until the CT scan says that the cancer on my chest wall is under control.