Deborah Polinsky: Ovarian Cancer Research Advocate and SHARE Volunteer


When and how did you get involved with SHARE?

I first came to SHARE in September 2007 after completing treatment for stage 3C ovarian cancer. I attended a support group run by Judi Gordon and Annie Ellis. I wanted a group because the chemo treatment left me with significant neuropathy in my legs and hands, and I was looking for advice on it. I also found out I was BRCA 1+ and I was worried about a recurrence, which usually happens with ovarian cancer.

In what ways have you been involved with SHARE?

After attending the group for a while, I met Linda Koteen, then the ovarian cancer program director. She told me about the Survivors Teaching Students program and referred me to Betty Reiser, who had developed the program when she was at SHARE. The program is under the sponsorship of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA). From all of them I learned about OCNA's annual conference and attended it for 6 years. I've also attended many worthwhile educational programs at SHARE.

Soon after coming to SHARE I trained for the ovarian cancer helpline. I've been a regular on the schedule. I was also asked to co-facilitate the ovarian cancer support group and have done it for many years. In September 2016 I will start a new SHARE ovarian support group located in Brooklyn.

Last year SHARE sent me to FORCE's (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) annual conference. At that conference I learned a great deal more about the risks for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, especially about being BRCA 1+. I was so impressed with this conference that I volunteered to be a research advocate. I completed their training and in February 2016 was assigned to work with the Stand Up 2 Cancer, Ovarian Cancer Dream Team as an advocate.

On September 10th, 2016, I will be captain of TEAM SHARE at the 8th annual TEAL Walk in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. The Walk contributes a generous sum back to SHARE. We look to have over 40 members on our team.

How has SHARE helped you?

SHARE opened up the world of the ovarian cancer community to me. It gave me hope that I could do well and possibly not succumb to the disease. Through meeting other women who share this disease history and genetic risk, I learned about the disease and how to manage it.

As a professional social worker, SHARE has given me opportunities to combine my work and personal experiences. Each of the activities I engage in through SHARE increases my ability to help others in any setting. SHARE is a place where I can give back for the help I received when needed.

What is your 40th anniversary wish for SHARE?

I wish SHARE 40 plus more years of serving women, their family, friends, and professionals faced with the horrors of breast and ovarian cancers. It was comforting for me to have people who've been there and are knowledgeable, and I hope that SHARE can continue and expand their services for those in need for a long time.