Top minds coming together for Marin Hadassah breast cancer forum

Judi Rude Finkelstein spent nearly 20 years as a Hadassah volunteer teaching girls in Baltimore how to give themselves breast self-examinations as part of Hadassah’s “Check it Out” initiative.

So when the Marin native returned to Corte Madera, she felt she had to be similarly involved.

Her organizing efforts have led to the Marin Hadassah chapter’s forum on breast cancer that will be held Thursday, Oct. 15 at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael. The event, which is free and open to the public, is designed to be informational.

“Breast cancer has touched everyone I know,” Finkelstein said. “Women need to be educated about their bodies and be able to be their own advocate.”

Finkelstein, a member of Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon, hopes the symposium will do just that.

Speakers include Janice Barlow, executive director of Zero Breast Cancer; Rochelle Ereman, principal investigator of a Marin-based breast cancer study; Christopher Benz, the director of cancer and developmental therapeutics program at the Buck Institute for Age Research; and Bobbie Head, a medical oncologist and staff physician at Marin General Hospital.

Susan Schwartz, the education director at Zero Breast Cancer, helped plan the forum with Finkelstein. She expects panelists to talk about breast cancer prevention, genetic aspects of breast cancer (including the prevalence of the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes among Askenazi Jewish women) and the progress of the Marin Women’s Study breast cancer research.

Susan Schwartz (left) and Judi Rude Finkelstein

Marin County has one of the highest breast cancer rates in the country.

“There’s something for everybody,” said Schwartz, a member of Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael.

Speakers also will address the power of community partnerships and detail how local researchers and clinicians, breast cancer advocates and the public health community are working together to investigate breast cancer prevalence in Marin County.

There should also be information on being in remission, since “breast cancer has become largely a survivable disease,” Schwartz said.

The symposium marks the first time all of these researchers and advocates will speak at the same event, Finkelstein said. It’s also the second time Zero Breast Cancer has partnered with the Marin chapter of Hadassah to put on a breast cancer educational forum.

Funding for the forum was provided by the local affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; Elaine and Lyman Black of Nova Light Source; the Safeway Foundation; and the Avon Foundation.

Marin Hadassah’s breast cancer symposium will take place 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road in San Rafael. Free. Information or registration:, or (415) 507-1949.

Stacey Palevsky

Stacey Palevsky is a former J. staff writer.