Updated 10/06/2012 11:08 AM
NYer Of The Week: Valerie Goldfein Runs Sisterhood To Help Women Fighting Ovarian Cancer
After battling ovarian cancer herself, this week's New Yorker is creating a support group for women struggling with the same disease. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
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Valerie Goldfein remembers the day she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
"Nobody ever forgets the day they were diagnosed," she says. "It was this beautiful day and nothing could ever go wrong. But it did for me."
Today, she is cancer free but her fight continues. Not against the disease but to improve the support and care for patients facing the battle she faced.
"That night, I sat alone," she says. "I sort of wanted someone to call me and say 'I've been where you are. I know what you're going through.' When someone gets diagnosed with breast cancer, it's devastating. But there's this whole terrific sisterhood that has walks and t-shirts, that has brought forth a consciousness to breast cancer. Nobody has ever done that for this."
Working with the doctors who treated her at Mt. Sinai Hospital, Valerie created the Woman To Woman program. It pairs newly-diagnosed patients with survivors."
"No matter what I tell a patient about what a treatment is going to be, it's not like hearing it from someone who's been through the wars and knows what its like to be bald and sick," says Dr. Peter Dottino at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
Valerie and a team of volunteers meet with patients, go with them to pick out wigs and sit with them during chemotherapy.
"I'm sobbing and I'm saying 'I can't do this, I want to go to the hospice, I want to go to the hospice like right now' and a second later, she just sat down and we were just talking. It was just like, I was calm," said Enid Coleman, a Woman to Woman participant.
"I realized I needed that support, I needed to see people who have gone through this," says Ruhma Choudhury, a Woman to Woman participant. "It's very difficult to go through this on your own."
Giving her time to others has helped Valerie too.
"I think its a way of working things through," she says. "I really needed to do this for myself. As one of the lucky ones, it behooved me to start. I mean, I really was driven. I felt that it would have made a difference."
So, for creating a sisterhood to help women fight ovarian cancer, Valerie Goldfein is our New Yorker of the Week,