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Pink Shabbat Speech

Sunday, 13 November, 2016 - 11:29 pm


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 All throughout October we hear phrases like “Cancer Research and Breast Cancer Awareness” But why is it so important for you to support breast cancer awareness and research? The first thing I want everyone to do is to imagine this:

Imagine a beautiful 32-year old woman, with bouncy brown hair, bright blue green eyes, and a strong, fit body. This woman you are imagining was the highest ranked female black belt in the world in the Israeli self-defense system, Krav Maga. Although she was one of the toughest fighters, she was the most loving, sweet, creative, fun and, gentle person and I was lucky enough to call her my mom. At age 32, my mother Marni, was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Now picture this: In the months to follow, that beautiful woman with bouncy brown hair quickly transformed into a beautiful woman with no hair. Her strong, fit body was soon fragile and weak from chemo and radiation– sometimes too weak to drive down the block or even to walk into my room to tuck me into bed. Her strength that was once so blatantly visible in her physical appearance, was no longer seen; however, it began to resonate through her courage, persistence, and dedication to beat the disease that she was battling. The woman who you first imagined taught others how to defend themselves, yet she found herself at age 32 in the greatest battle of her life. Four years and two rounds of breast cancer later, my mother passed away. I was 9.

My mother living her life while she was sick was a blessing because she lived her life, not her disease. She went to every school play, every soccer game, and every dance recital she was well enough to go to. So while my childhood was not the norm, it was happy and full and I was lucky to have my mother in my life for the 9 years I did. To put it simply, losing my mother has defined me. As a 9 year old, I had no idea how much my mom’s disease would impact the rest of my life. As much as my mom shaped who I was, her absence has shaped me just as much. Losing my mother has made me strong. Losing my mother has made me independent. Losing my mother has made me dedicated to find a cure for the disease that took her life. Every year my family and I have organized the Stop Cancer Marni Fund 5k run walk. Through the walk and Krav Maga seminars, we have raised over one million dollars to fund breast cancer research at USC, UCLA, and City of Hope cancer research centers. My mom’s wish was for doctors to learn from her case to help other mothers, sisters, and daughters.

            So, this is why I fight against breast cancer, but why should you? Each year 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer. 8-10% of Ashkenazi Jews carry the BRCA gene, the genetic mutation that greatly increases your risk of having breast cancer. Many of the women in this room tonight are Ashkenazi Jews. Many of your best friends, sorority sisters, myself included, are at risk for developing Breast Cancer. This fact is not meant to scare you, but to empower you. Being aware and knowing the risks of the future is a powerful concept. There are a lot of important causes in the world, but this disease disproportionately affects Jewish women. As Jews, we need to recognize this fact to protect the women in our lives. I hope tonight motivates all of you to join the fight against breast cancer, not only during the month of October, but in whatever ways you can throughout the year.

By attending Pink Shabbat you are raising awareness. By making donations or becoming involved in an organization, you are taking action. Whether you are getting involved in small or large ways, you are making a difference.

 -Brooke Levine




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