Survivor Portrait Gallery

Joanne Ehrlich

The Sandowski Family

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Joanne Ehrlich with her husband Fred, daughters Melissa and Jennifer, and sons Michael and Jason. Also at the shoot but out of sight, her dog Teddy.

© 2012 Mark Jason Photography

Tenafly, NJ
Age: 50
Cancer survivor since 1997

Joanne was a headhunter and researcher and presently is trying to develop a company combining fashion and charity.

What does being a Survivor mean to you?

“You have cancer” are three of the most powerful and difficult words to hear. At the time of my diagnosis, my son was 6 and my daughter 3. They were and are my life. With them as the “wind beneath my wings,” I knew there were no choices, and I was about to fight the biggest battle of my life. After numerous surgeries and radiation, I became a member of the “club” at the age of 34. Needless to say prior to my diagnosis, it was not a club I would have strived to be a part of. Yet, after being diagnosed, there is no more important “membership.” During this time, the support and camaraderie I received comforted me in a way that I had never before experienced. I watched a community rally on my behalf, and I knew it became my duty as a survivor to support and comfort those in need. I have been there for people that are friends, people who are friends of friends, and complete strangers. There is no greater feeling than to know I have been able to ease an emotional pain of so many.

How has being a Survivor affected your life?

Three and a half year ago, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. This diagnosis had a powerful effect on my entire family. At that time, I decided to have a double mastectomy, preventatively, as I never wanted to hear the words “you have cancer” again. With the incredible support of my husband (who slept on an “ironing board” each time I was admitted to Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital), my family and friends, my recovery was much easier.

My doctors were deeply dedicated and impacted me tremendously during my journey. One of the most important lessons I learned over the past 15 years is to have patience while waiting to be seen by my physician. I know those going through this ordeal not only require, but also deserve all the time required from their doctors. I could never choose a doctor who wouldn’t give me the time needed — the time to ease anxiety and make me feel as though I am his only patient. I am fully aware that this may cause him to run late for his next appointment…and the next, but I know my doctor isn’t playing a game of golf or taking a long lunch/dinner while I am sitting in his waiting room- He’s just giving someone else the time they need to be comforted or treated.

My daughter took a very active role in finding her voice during this time of turmoil in our lives. She knew she could not sit idly by while watching my recovery and my sisters’ battle without trying to do her share. She was the vice president of a “cancer” club in her school and became a very active, twice co-chairing Tickled Pink! —an event sponsored by Teens for the Cure to benefit Komen Greater NYC. She also raised money for the organization throughout the year.

It has been my goal over the past few years to create an organization, which will raise money to help make a difference in this world.

Produced by Todd Ehrlich, T-Line TV.
Video and Editing by SA Baron.

 


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