Presented by the San Antonio Chapter & the Aviva Group of Hadassah and the Barshop JCC.
Hear survivor stories from guest speakers Alyssa Greiner and Katya Lezin, and join us in learning about advocacy, prevention, and treatment. Attendees are encouraged to bring any gently used bras for donation to women in need.
Tuesday, Oct. 23 | 7:30pm to 9:30pm (Doors will open at 7pm) | Barshop JCC Holzman Auditorium
$18 General Public | $10 JCC & *Hadassah Members
*Members of Hadassah: Bring a friend who joins Hadassah and you'll both get in free!
The following vendors will be in attendance:
MEET THE SPEAKERS
Alyssa Greiner is always happy to tell anyone willing to listen that she is a Previvor. Growing up, her mom spent most of her life battling breast and ovarian cancer, losing the fight at the age of 55. With a strong family history of breast cancer and being of Ashkenazi descent, Alyssa received genetic counselling and tested positive for the BRCA1 gene at the age of 33.
Thanks to supportive family, friends and amazing doctors, Alyssa had a bilateral salpingo oophorectomy at 35 and a preventative double mastectomy with reconstruction at 43. Officially a Previvor, she sought opportunities to share her story in the hopes of helping others. Now a patient speaker advocate for Myriad Genetics, Alyssa is able to talk to doctors, nurses, patient navigators and men/women that might be at high risk for the gene about the importance of genetic testing, how it saved her life, her brothers (he is BRCA1 also) and how it will someday impact her daughter & nieces.
Alyssa hopes that her story is one of hope, influencing and educating others about the importance of being proactive and taking control of your health & life.
Katya Lezin finds it ironic that a pain in her derriere sounded the alarm for her cancer diagnosis since, as she puts it, “I have often been described as a pain in that very same area of the body.” Lezin consulted with her Charlotte, NC gynecologist in March 2011 and an ultrasound revealed that one of her ovaries had descended, thus causing her rectal pain. The offending ovary was removed laparoscopically and sent off to the pathologist where a cancer diagnosis was made.
Lezin then consulted with a gynecological oncologist who confirmed that she had Stage II ovarian cancer. He also suggested Lezin undergo genetic testing (since ovarian cancer is a red flag for genetic mutations) and she learned that she had the BRCA-1 mutation. Even though the news of her BRCA-1 status at first felt like more bad luck, Lezin has come to appreciate it as a stroke of good luck within the realm of cancer bad luck. “I find science comforting,” Lezin says, “and knowing how and why my cancer formed has also helped my medical team better treat me.” Lezin also appreciated knowing her odds of getting other cancers and being able to do something about those odds. When she learned her BRCA-1 mutation gave her an 87% chance of getting breast cancer, Lezin elected to have a prophylactic double mastectomy. She had a hysterectomy in June 2011 followed by five months of chemo (Taxol and Cisplatin) administered through a peritoneal port in her abdomen and then ended the year with a double mastectomy. (Lezin considers the free tummy tuck the surgery entailed and the fact that she never has to wear a bra again as silver linings of her surgery, one that used the fat from her stomach – “Something I had in abundance!” Lezin says – to make her new breasts.)
In November 2013, when Lezin was just shy of meeting the 2-year milestone of being cancer-free, her CA-125 started spiking. A CT scan revealed a tumor on her spleen so Lezin underwent a splenectomy (“I’m running out of body parts to remove!” Lezin quipped) just before Thanksgiving. That year, as she does every year, Lezin gave thanks for the fact that she is still able to enjoy family gatherings with her husband, David, and children (Noah, Hannah and Eliza). Despite the fact that her cancer journey has included a recurrence, seven major surgeries, five months of grueling chemotherapy, ten hospitalizations and the removal of multiple body parts, she thinks the Big C has brought more good than bad into her life. When given the opportunity, she chooses to laugh rather than cry at some of the indignities she has suffered along the way and she’s a big believer in grabbing your moments of joy and mirth wherever you can.
Lezin has chronicled her cancer journey in a weekly column she wrote for The Charlotte Observer and in a memoir she wrote entitled BUT I JUST GREW OUT MY BANGS, A CANCER TALE. One of the silver linings of her cancer journey is that it has provided a forum for her inner stand-up comic wannabe, and she now travels the country as a patient advocate and survivor, speaking to cancer support groups, medical professionals, and anyone who will listen to her account of the upside of being BRCA-1 positive and being a cancer survivor.