Guest Blogger, Sherry Kabran, writes about her amazing new project, Tree of Life, A BRCA Conversation http://www.treeoflifebrca.org:
While in mourning, some try to cope with their emotions and loss by writing journals, going to support groups, blogging, running races, attending daily minyans, even starting cancer oriented organizations. The women in my family found their own ways to accept the loss of Carolyn Raizes Davis, mother and sister, but together we created Tree of Life: a BRCA Conversation guide for Passover, Shabbat and Rosh Chodesh.
Each guide helps Jews of Ashkenazi descent understand basic facts about hereditary cancer risks from BReast CAncer gene mutations. The highlighted message is that every family should create a family medical tree, look for red flags and consider genetic testing, if appropriate. The guides provide a Jewish setting in which to start a serious conversation that might save the 1 in 40 Jews of Ashkenazi descent, who unknowingly has a BRCA gene mutation.
This family project was our suggestion to FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) to further reach out to the Jewish community with a teaching tool. How could we not try to help? Carolyn passionately believed in teaching the community about BRCA gene mutation risks and worked closely with The Methodist Hospital doctors in Houston, Texas, to develop an educational program. Her legacy was EDUCATE anyone who will listen!
My younger sister, Francine, and I decided Passover was an ideal time to have a multi-generational discussion about gathering medical histories. We know about oranges and coffee beans on the Seder plate. How about a tree branch, to represent the importance of medical family trees? Each guide provides: an introduction to start the conversation, a BRCA branch symbol of family trees, a choice of videos, a medical history form to gather health information, Debbie Friedman’s Mi Sheberach prayer and suggestions for next steps.
Of course I googled “Passover & family histories” and found Chani’s post suggesting families do just that, at the Seder table! Her blog is incredibly informative and thought provoking. Plus, she told me to take the conversation guide idea and run with it. Thank you, Chani, for your encouragement.
The Davis/Raizes/Kabran family hopes readers will explore the guides (http://www.treeoflifebrca.org) and decide to use one during family gatherings. Please tell us about the experience. Also, help us save lives by sharing the website on Facebook and forwarding the free downloadable guides to family members, friends and community leaders (Jewish organizations are beginning to offer BRCA educational programs). Your suggestions for use of the guides and ways to publicize would be greatly appreciated.
Sherry Kabran: firstname.lastname@example.org