Jo Holz: SHARE Support Group Participant to Board President

jo_holz 40_for_40

When and how did you get involved with SHARE?

I first got involved with SHARE in 1993 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram and called SHARE for help.  As anyone who has been there will understand, I was totally gobsmacked and terrified by the news of my diagnosis. Two friends who were survivors, Didi Lacher and Jane Madell, both urged me to contact SHARE.  I called the helpline and the person I spoke to told me that there was a support group for newly-diagnosed women that would soon begin meeting at the Times Square office. I wasn't eager to join the group and talk about my feelings with a bunch of strangers, but Didi talked me into it by telling me that I only had to attend the first meeting, and then I could stop going if I really didn't like it.  Fortunately, I listened to Didi and went to the first meeting, and it turned out to be the absolute best thing that happened to me during that difficult time. Jane Soyer was my group's amazing facilitator, and I truly believe that having that group meeting every week saved my life.

In what ways have you been involved with SHARE?

I was enormously grateful to SHARE for helping me get through my cancer treatment and began making donations to SHARE and participating in the annual SHARE fundraising walk through Central Park. Jane Soyer said she thought I would make a good support group facilitator, and after some initial resistance, I accepted her suggestion and participated in a group facilitator training program led by Jane Madell, and then I started leading groups.  A couple of years later, I joined the SHARE board of directors and then went on to become the board president. After my term as president ended, I remained on the board, where I have helped with communications strategy and strategic planning.  I now find myself to be one of the longest serving board members!

How has SHARE helped you?

Calling SHARE and participating in a SHARE support group when I was first diagnosed helped me tremendously.  I had a wonderful family and lots of supportive friends, but nothing compared to being able to talk about my darkest fears with a group of women who knew exactly what I was talking about and with whom I didn't have to censor myself in any way for fear of upsetting them or showing anything less than a completely positive attitude all the time.  Serving as a support group facilitator later was incredibly fulfilling and an essential part of my continued recovery.  My service on the SHARE board has also been deeply rewarding.  Throughout my history with SHARE, the best thing has been that I became part of this wonderful community that has continued to provide me with support, inspiration, and friendship.

What is your 40th anniversary wish for SHARE?

I hope that SHARE continues to provide women and men affected by breast, ovarian, or metastatic cancer with support, strength, and community for at least another 40 years, or until these cancers no longer exist.


See all the 40 for 40 posts here!