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The one hundred honoree: Rochelle Shoretz

Donor Story

The one hundred honoree: Rochelle Shoretz

Mass General Giving

At age 28, Rochelle Shoretz was on top of the world, with a young family and a rapidly advancing legal career. But when she received a diagnosis of breast cancer, her world turned upside down.

While her diagnosis was surprising, what surprised Rochelle even more was learning that one in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carry a genetic mutation that increases the likelihood of developing hereditary breast cancer or ovarian cancer. She was joining a large community of other young Jewish women who were facing this same diagnosis. When she discovered that there wasn’t a strong network of support and resources, she decided to create one.

In 2001, Rochelle founded Sharsheret, Hebrew for “chain,” building a virtual lifeline for thousands of women just like her, daunted by illness, fear, isolation and treatments. Leveraging tools like webcasts, live chats and conference calls, she quickly began to connect her new community to one another for daily conversation, resource-sharing and support. To date, and with a staff of 18, Sharsheret has served more than 40,000 women and men of all backgrounds with a culturally-sensitive focus on issues including fertility, career and family. With open hearts and ears, Sharsheret community members help each other through challenging times.

Rochelle’s leadership also includes participation on the Federal Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women. In 2011, Sharsheret received a three-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a survivorship program for young Jewish women facing breast cancer.

At age 37, Rochelle was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer, but she continues to expand Sharsheret to support women and families just like her own. Rochelle sets a remarkable example for other women facing cancer, and Sharsheret brings immeasurable comfort to thousands of cancer patients and survivors day after day with 12 national programs on which they can rely.