President's Message - October 2018
by Kim Berg, Esq.
There can be no dispute that statistically speaking women are adversely affected in larger percentages than men when it comes to both domestic violence and breast cancer. For example, according to the American Cancer Society, for men the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is 1 in 833 but for women the average risk of developing breast cancer sometime in her life is 1 in 8. According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, a higher percentage of women are victims, with 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men, experiencing severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
The month of October is dedicated to both Domestic Violence Awareness and Breast Cancer Awareness and I am proud to be a member of the WWBA which serves an important role in the awareness campaign.
Domestic Violence can take many forms, including physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional and psychological abuse. The impact on the victim stems far beyond physical injury and often results in long lasting psychological trauma. According to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence’s “Fact” Sheet:
Domestic violence is prevalent in every community, and affects all people regardless of age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. Physical violence is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior as part of a much larger, systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and even death. The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime. www.ncadv.org
The WWBA is proud to have a Domestic Violence Committee, currently co-chaired by Natanya L. Briendel, Beth Levy and Audrey E. Stone. The informative programs they provide every year to our members are critically important to educating attorneys and enhancing the services we as lawyers provide to victims of domestic violence. Coming next month is a program titled “Exploring and Understanding Cultural Competency in the Law” scheduled for October 29, 2018 and is co-sponsored by the Pace Women’s Justice Center, the WWBA, and Ninth Judicial District Committee to Protect Gender Fairness in the Courts.
In Westchester, we are also fortunate to have the Pace Women’s Justice Center which has provided critical services to victims of domestic violence, assisting over 3,000 clients per year for the past 25 years. The vast need for legal services for domestic violence victims in our community led to the grand opening of the PWJC’s Walk-In-Clinic on June 29, 2018, which opening ceremony I was privileged to attend. The WWBA commends our members whose efforts in assisting domestic violence victims are carried out daily in their legal practices and public office positions. The WWBA is also a proud supporter of the PWJC and you may recall we recognized the PWJC at our Annual Dinner on June 6, 2018. This year, at the PWJC’s annual “Making a Difference Benefit Dinner” on October 24, 2018, WWBA member Jacqueline Hattar, Esq. will be honored along with Anne Marie Hynes, Esq. so please make sure to attend and support.
According to the CDC, some of the risk factors for breast cancer include: getting older (most are diagnosed after age 50); genetic mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2; personal or family history of breast cancer; previous radiation; not being physically active; obesity; drinking alcohol and smoking. www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/risk_factors.htm
Personally, I do not have any of those “risk” factors. Yet, I was not insulated from potential cancer. I am certainly no expert on the topic of breast cancer and do not profess to have any medical background or training on the subject but I have learned from my personal experience just how critically important it is for every woman to perform routine self-examinations and have an annual mammogram.
To sum it up: I do not smoke, rarely drink alcohol, am not over 50, am not obese, exercise vigorously 5-6 times per week, do not have genetic mutations (yes I was tested) and have not been exposed to radiation. My family history of breast cancer was never considered a calculable risk because it was not my mother, sister or other close relative but rather those more distant such as second and third cousins.
Yet, for me, three years ago at the age of 43, I was advised in a phone call that literally stopped me in my tracks that something suspicious appeared on my routine annual mammogram. After several follow up visits it was confirmed that I had atypical hyperplasia which was described as a mounding of cells that literally equaled the size of “grains of sand.” I was told early detection and early treatment were key to prevent the development of this atypia into breast cancer. The detection occurred long before a lump or mass could be felt by self or doctor examination but yet that mounding of cells still needed to be removed and a five course of treatment prescribed thereafter.
Now, I am thankful every day that I am a person who was fortunate to benefit from early detection and that I was able to have the cells removed before they spread due in large part to the fact that I had access to good medical care.
However, it was also due in large part to the fact that I did not skip my annual mammogram. Since that time, I have talked to so many women, friends, colleagues and family members, who nonchalantly state “oh yeah I have to schedule my mammogram” or “do I really need to have a mammogram every year” or “I keep putting it off because I don’t have time” or any other routine excuse. Sure we are all busy, between practicing law, raising families, caring for our parents, and attempting to have some work life balance, but that is simply not a good excuse to put your health on hold.
For those that know me, I do not share personal information readily and am not doing so now to evoke sympathy or even words of support. Rather, I do so with the sincere hope that my personal story is read by WWBA members and that my personal story motivates you to perform routine self exams, schedule your annual mammogram, and stay on top of your breast health. If I had put off my mammogram that year I have no doubt I would have put myself at significantly higher risk, more invasive surgery, and a worse outcome.
In recognition of October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, the WWBA has two important events in the month of October that I highly encourage you to attend. The first is our FREE Breast Cancer Awareness program on October 18, 2018 at 12:30 p.m. at the Westchester County Courthouse. The program is sponsored by the WWBA and JALBCA and lunch will be served. This annual WWBA program is well known for providing a wealth of information about breast cancer awareness, including overall breast health, early signs of the disease, risk factors, and treatment options.
In addition, on October 21, 2018 please join Team Orbach and the WWBA walkers at the annual American Cancer Society 2018 Walk at Manhattanville College. Every year WWBA member Adrienne Orbach organizes a fundraising effort and a WWBA team to participate in the Making Strides against Breast Cancer Walk. Please make sure to register.
Details about these and other upcoming programs, networking events, and CLEs can be found at our online calendar and in the weekly Update emailed to each of our members every Tuesday. The online calendar also contains easy links for registering for all programs. https://wwbany.org/Calendar-and-Events.