Women’s health event focuses on breast, ovarian cancer


On Sunday, Oct. 29, Jewish women’s health will take center stage as Temple Emanu-El hosts “Understanding Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer,” a discussion and brunch in the Temple Emanu-El Vestry from 9 to 11 a.m. 


Did you know that 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jewish women has an increased risk of developing hereditary breast and ovarian cancer? This event is an opportunity to learn about the BRCA gene mutation, your risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer and ways to support those who have been recently diagnosed.

The BRCA gene (BRCA1 and BRCA2) is a tumor suppressor gene, and every person has two sets of BRCA genes, inherited from each parent. When there is a mutation in the genes, the risk of developing breast, ovarian and other cancers increases significantly. Recent advancements have discovered other genetic mutations that may increase the risk of breast cancer. Approximately 5-10 percent of breast cancer cases are attributed to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, while 85 percent of newly diagnosed women have no known family history.

“I believe that being well-informed is an essential tool in peoples’ effort to care for their health, and to make good decisions regarding any needed treatment.  This meeting offers an opportunity to become better informed,” said Margaret Wool, vice president for educational activities at Temple Emanu-El, and  a member of the faculty at  Brown University’s Warren Alpert School of Medicine.

Guest speaker for the event is Dr. Kathryn Dalton, the medical director for the Cape Cod Women’s Health Program & High Risk Breast Cancer Program. There will be a group discussion with handouts, and a question-and-answer period.

Dalton is a winner of the prestigious “Star of Excellence Award” at Henry Ford Health System in Wyandotte, Michigan. She is board certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery, and her specialty is Hidden Scar breast surgery for cancer and benign disease.  Much of her practice is dedicated to personalized care, individualized cancer risk assessment and genetic testing.

Other speakers at the event include Maria Gemma, executive director of the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, Rabbi Rachel Zerin of Temple Emanu-El, and Tara Watkins of Jewish Family Service of Rhode Island’s Kesher Program.

“It’s important that women understand their risk for developing cancer, and they also need to understand how to reduce their risk of a cancer diagnosis,” said Gemma.

The discussion is cosponsored by Temple Emanu-El, The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation, The Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and the JFS Kesher Program.

For questions or more information about the discussion, call 401-331-1616. Reservations are appreciated, but not required for the event. 

Editor’s Note: The Hope Bus, Gloria Gemma’s mobile resource and wellness unit that provides education, healing arts, one-on-one support groups, care and compassion will visit the Jewish Alliance’s Dwares Jewish Community Center on Nov. 19 from 1-4 p.m. Contact Maureen DiPiero at the Gloria Gemma Foundation, 401-861-4376 or Wendy Joering at the Jewish Alliance, 401-421-4111 for more information.