Rochelle Shoretz, a longtime advocate for women with cancer, died Sunday from complications of breast cancer. She was 42. Shoretz was the founder of Sharsheret, a national organization for young Jewish women facing breast and ovarian cancer.
Shoretz established the non-profit in 2001, after her own diagnosis at the age of 28.
The organization sought to address the unique challenges young women with cancer face such as fertility, career, and dating.
In an interview with Jewish Women Magazine, Shoretz the impetus for Sharsheret:
“I had a medical team, and there were many offers to connect me with older women with cancer,” says Shoretz, who is Orthodox and married to a venture capitalist, “but they couldn’t identify with the issues I was facing: raising children, fertility, career, supporting a mother who had a daughter with breast cancer. More frightening than living with cancer is believing that you are the only person like you living with cancer.”
Sharsheret also provided a network of mutual support and resource sharing for Jewish women with an increased risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer due to certain genetic mutations.
Upon learning of her cancer’s return in 2009, Shoretz, a lawyer who had previously clerked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, told the Forward:
I’ve had such a rich and meaningful life. Of course I wish I had more time. I would love to see grandchildren, to see weddings, to be a part of these amazing things for more time, but I love life and don’t want to spend any of it mourning the loss of that which I can’t have. I’d much rather embrace that which I do.
Outpourings of grief on Sunday night followed Sharsheret’s announcement of Shoretz’s death on its website and Facebook page. The organization issued the following statement:
Rochelle’s legacy is her children and an incredible organization that only she could have built. Her passion and drive will forever remain the foundation of Sharsheret. No words can adequately express our sadness at Rochelle’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with her. We will honor her memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the critical work she loved so much.
The funeral will be held Monday.
Sarah Breger is a former editor of the Sisterhood blog. Follow her on Twitter at @sbreger.
Breast Cancer Advocate Rochelle Shoretz Dies At 42