Activism

Sue Friedman

Diagnosed at 33, Sue Friedman had already undergone treatment when she found out about the BRCA2 mutation that had given her a 9-in-10 chance of developing hereditary breast cancer.

Three years later, in 1999, Friedman founded FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, an organization advocating for awareness of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. And they’ve had a pretty big year.

In April, the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether Myriad Genetics, Inc. had the right to patent the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. What seemed like an obscure matter was a life and death issue for many Ashkenazi women who, like Friedman, are far more likely to carry the mutation than the general population.

Friedman wrote an amicus brief to the court, expressing her concern at the implications of Myriad’s monopoly over the genes. Tests would be more expensive, and less accessible, she argued, because of the company’s control over research.

Then, in May, Angelina Jolie came out with a revelation in the opinion pages of the New York Times: After testing positive for a BRCA1 gene mutation, she had opted for a double mastectomy.

For activists like Friedman, 50, this was a long-awaited chance to bring attention to a health risk that she and others had been facing in silence and, mostly, alone.

Partly as a result of Friedman’s efforts, FORCE’s 15th anniversary will be a happy one: In June, the Supreme Court ruled that human DNA cannot be patented without being altered in some way, a victory for BRCA positive women.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.