Dr. Deborah Axelrod: Breast Surgeon and SHARE Board Member

dr_deborah_axelord 40_for_40

When and how did you get involved with SHARE?

It was in the early 90's. I just started a surgical practice in breast diseases and breast cancer. I knew the women would need more than my surgical talents, so I sent off a letter to Alice Yaker, then the Executive Director of SHARE asking for help. SHARE was the first organization to lead peer support groups in both breast and ovarian cancer.

The rest is history. SHARE entered my life when I needed help with the psychosocial aspects of the disease in women newly diagnosed.  

In what ways have you been involved with SHARE?

I remember in the early 90's, SHARE founding member Lee Miller (& myself) ran a communications workshop with the surgeons at Beth Israel (I really just herded the docs into a room where we were a captive audience). Lee was mesmerizing and matter-of-fact and impressive to our group.  I knew I could learn so much from the organization and the women and men who started it.

In the mid 90's, a crew of us -- both physicians, volunteers/survivors and a few employees -- went to the Czech Republic under the auspices of SHARE and the American Joint Distribution Committee. At the time, every woman with breast cancer had mastectomy followed by radiation, and lymphedema was a real issue and dealt with very successfully. I think they were way ahead of us in recognizing and controlling the problem. But all the survivors were put on disability and marginalized in their society. Our group of advocates made vital inroads that are long-lasting to this day.  

In the early 2000's, I wrote a book called Bosom Buddies: Lessons and Laughter about Breast Cancer with Rosie O'Donnell. We donated 100% of the proceeds to breast charities and of course SHARE was at the top of the list.

How has SHARE helped you?

There is no doubt that SHARE has contributed much more to my growth as a surgeon, advocate and woman than I have given to them.

I know that without SHARE, I wouldn't have become the fine clinician I am now. And I know there are so many women who have benefitted over the almost 3 decades that I have been in practice (GULP!).

SHARE has remained true to its mission, and we are still a grassroots advocacy organization. We welcome everyone. The true definition of a volunteer is what you would do if you were never found out. And the SHARE volunteers are the quintessential women and men who work quietly towards the greater good of helping women get through their diagnoses and illness successfully.

What is your 40th anniversary wish for SHARE?

Congratulations to all of us. SHARE has made history, now let's make breast cancer history.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

See all the 40 for 40 series posts here!