Maxine, Rochelle and Alana Schube
Tell us a little about yourself.
Maxine (Maxx): I was born in NY and moved to Atlanta when starting high school. At 15, I met my husband, Keith, an Atlanta native, at the Jewish community center. We married right after graduating from college and recently celebrated our 33rd anniversary. We have three children: Rochelle, Jeremy and Alana. I am one of three girls. My middle sister was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at 33 (20 years ago) but genetic testing was in its infancy, and we had no female cancers in the family. Six years later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 41. The doctors recommended genetic testing, and we found out I had the BRCA1 mutation. My parents were tested. My father was the carrier. We were told to have our children tested when they were in their 20s.
Rochelle: I am a LMSW and a bereavement coordinator and counselor at Crossroads Hospice. After watching my family's pain after my aunt passed away when I was only 10, I knew I wanted to help other people during such a difficult time. I am also proud to be an ambassador for an organization called Bright Pink that provides support for young women at high risk for these cancers. I had genetic testing at 23, tested positive for BRCA1, and opted to have my breasts and ovaries checked every six months, thinking that when I reached 30 I would talk to my doctors about prophylactic surgery. When my younger sister was 23 and I was 28, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had my routine MRI scheduled, and they saw a suspicious irregularity. Unable to do a needle biopsy, my surgeon recommended a double mastectomy. Luckily mine was benign, but I am relieved that I don't have to worry about breast cancer anymore.
Alana: I am an elementary school teacher at The Davis Academy, the Jewish day school I attended growing up. Knowing my mom had breast cancer I decided on genetic testing at 21. I tested positive for BRCA1 and was told I did not need surveillance until I was 25. At 23, I was finishing college and student teaching at the University of Georgia. I continued doing breast self-exams, and one day I felt a lump. Because I knew I was at high risk and carried the BRCA gene, I went for a biopsy and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Knowing saved my life. I went from a full-time to student to a full-time patient overnight.
How did you get involved with Hadassah?
We are a four-generation Hadassah family. Maxx's grandmother (Rose Sandler) and her sister (Esther Forman) were founding members, major donors. There is a rose garden at Hadassah Medical Center Ein Karem named for Rose. We have heard about Hadassah from the time we were born, and are all lifetime members. We were raised with the knowledge that Hadassah women are known as "Women who do!" We were always updated about the medical breakthroughs constantly being discovered at Hadassah hospital. Hadassah is the organization that discovered the link between Ashkenazi Jews and the BRCA mutation, and that knowledge got us to where we are today.
What is it about Hadassah that resonates with you?
We were not very active in Hadassah until we were honored last year at the 2016 Atlanta Breast Strokes Event. This is when we really felt the power of these extraordinary women. Once we delved in, we learned the power of Hadassah. We have been updated, are utilizing the latest medical research being discovered, are impressed with the awareness and education that is being spread, and Hadassah's important advocacy for women and their health issues. We have experienced firsthand lifelong friendships with extraordinary women and our own personal growth. We are proud of the context that Hadassah provides for our rich Jewish continuity. We are grateful to be a part of all of it!
Share something you would like people to know about you
Our goal in coming forward with our story is to show that breast cancer doesn't care how old you are: It is not our mother's disease anymore. Young women need to know their own bodies, pay attention to irregularities, be empowered , be educated. You can save your own life (like Alana did) or someone else's.
Maxine: Although both of my daughters tested BRCA positive, our son was negative for the gene. He was lucky. But men can and do carry the gene, so men, boys, and sons should be tested, too. My girls are all good now! Our story has a happy ending, and we want other people's story to be happy, too!
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