HADASSAH - Boca Sabra Chapter
by Iyar Sivan – May, 2006
Jacob International, which is an acronym for Jews Against
Cancer of the Breast, is a non-profit organization, was created
specifically to help save the lives of Jewish women who might
have inherited a gene mutation which predisposes them to breast
and ovarian cancer. One in 40 Ashkenazi Jewish women carries
a mutation in their BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene. If one has a mutation
in their BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene, they have a 33 % -50% risk
of developing breast cancer by age 50 and 56 % - 87% by age
70. Also, those with a BRCA mutation have a 27- 44 % chance
of developing ovarian cancer by age 70.
We want to save lives. It is said in the Talmud, he who
saves a life, it is as though they saved the entire world.
Why do some Ashkenazi Jews carry these gene mutations? It
is believed that these mutations can be traced back hundreds
of years to their common ancestors, or founders. As the result
of numerous intermarriages among Jews, all of today's Ashkenazi
Jews are descended from a very small group of Jews who lived
in Eastern Europe 500 years ago. These "founding Ashkenazis"
carried the particular BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations which
were subsequently passed on to their descendants.
Today a simple blood test can detect the presence of this
mutation. A family's medical history (including generations)
is a very important component in determining whether the blood
test is right for you. Genetic coun¬seling is also available
today to help individuals assess their risk component for
mutations in their BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene. This information
can be vital to your health care as you can reduce your risk
up to 96% with appropriate medical intervention.
Jacob International was formed after Lori Sklar was diagnosed
with breast cancer at the age of 47 and she learned that she
had a mutation in her BRCA 1 gene;. Lori felt compelled to
educate Jewish women about their risk because she recognized
the power of this knowledge. It is important for us to share
her story so it does not become your story or the story of
future Jewish generations. If someone had counseled or educated
her, she could have taken preventive measures to reduce her
risk. Based on Lori's BRCA 1 mutation, she took all necessary
surgical steps to further reduce her risk of a reoccurrence
of the breast cancer and even the potential risk of ovarian
However, Lori's story continued a year later with the diagnosis
of leukemia. The leukemia was the result of her chemotherapy
to treat Stage I breast cancer. There was a one-half of one
percent (.005%) chance of getting leukemia from the type of
chemotherapy that was prescribed, Lori's leukemia was of an
aggressive nature and she needed a bone marrow transplant
for a cure. After fighting the leukemia (in and out of remission)
and other medical complications for many months, on November
3, 2005 Lori obtained a bone marrow transplant at the Seattle
Cancer Care Alliance/Fred Hutchinson Research Institute in
Seattle. She is in complete remission.
Lori is alive because of G-d's love, her persistent and total
faith in G-d and the unconditional love of her family, religious
congregation, friends of many faiths and many other people
whom she never met. These individuals, through the power of
prayer brought her through this journey. Her story, as arduous
and difficult as it sounds, is a victory of spirit, faith
and G-d's love.
If her doctor, the Jewish community, her family or a friend
had educated her on the benefits of genetic testing, she could
have dramatically reduced her risk of breast cancer and been
spared her fight with leukemia. However, Lori's travel along
this arduous journey had a purpose and Lori formed Jacob International
(Jews Against Cancer of the Breast) as a vehicle to educate
and break the cycle of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.
If you need more information or wish to volunteer in their
cause, please contact Lori and her husband, Bill, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or at 561-394-9100. The web site for
Jacob International is www.jacobintl.org and the website for
the general population is reachglobal.org.