What is Sharsheret? and Other Frequently Asked Questions

The following frequently asked questions answer common questions about Sharsheret, what we do, and the breast cancer and ovarian cancer landscape. If you don’t see your question on this page, our team can still help! Please reach out to us at [email protected] or 866.474.2774 with other questions.

Q. What is Sharsheret?

A. Sharsheret is a national non-profit organization that improves the lives of Jewish women and families living with or at increased genetic risk for breast cancer or ovarian cancer through personalized support and saves lives through educational outreach.

Q. What does Sharsheret mean and how do I pronounce it?

A. Sharsheret (pronounced shar-sheh-ret) is Hebrew for chain, symbolizing the connections we make among women, families, and communities facing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Please note, the correct spelling of our name is Sharsheret, not Sharsharet.

Q. How does Sharsheret help?

A. We provide breast cancer and ovarian cancer support and resources for you and your family in the way that feels most comfortable, taking into consideration your stage of life, diagnosis, or treatment, as well as your connection to Judaism. We can connect you with services particular to your needs and concerns.

Q. Does Sharsheret only serve young Jewish women?

A. We serve everyone who reaches out to Sharsheret. Our expertise is in the issues facing young women and Jewish families. All of our programs serve all women and men. More than 15% of the women who reach out to Sharsheret are not Jewish.

Q. Why does Sharsheret focus on the needs of Jewish women and families?

A. Sharsheret is the Jewish community’s response to breast cancer and the only national organization addressing the unique concerns of Jewish women and families facing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. One in 40 Jews of Ashkenazi descent carries a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, compared to 1 in 400 in the general population, that increases the likelihood of developing breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, melanoma and male breast cancer. Sharsheret educates both the cancer and Jewish communities about that risk, and provides a continuum of care of culturally-relevant support for those at risk of developing cancer, those diagnosed with cancer, and those grappling with issues of recurrence or survivorship. In recognition of Sharsheret’s important contributions to women’s health, Sharsheret was named a recipient of the New York State Innovation in Breast Cancer Early Detection and Research Award, and selected as a member of the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance. Sharsheret was appointed a seat on the Federal Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women under the auspices of the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Q. Am I considered “young” for purposes of Sharsheret’s programs? 

A. We define young broadly, with a general focus on active women who are dating, working, or parenting. Women of all ages reach out to Sharsheret to participate in the programs that are helpful to them.

Q. Am I considered a survivor?

A. The term “survivor” has many definitions, including at the time you were diagnosed, after you are done with treatment, or when you have a milestone that marks survivorship for you. Whatever your definition of survivorship, Sharsheret is here for you, with tailored resources to support your individual needs.

Q. Does Sharsheret serve women with other cancers?

A. We offer support and resources to women and families who are facing breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and can make appropriate connections to other organizations that specialize in other cancers.

Q. Does Sharsheret address other cancers related to the BRCA gene?

A. Anyone with questions or concerns about the BRCA gene can speak directly with Sharsheret’s genetic counselor or find genetics resources here. In light of the strong genetic connection between breast cancer and ovarian cancer, we offer a program that addresses the needs of women and families facing ovarian cancer. Learn more about our genetics program or our ovarian cancer program.

Q. Where do men fit in?

A. We offer resources and tailored staff guidance to men who are supporting women touched by breast cancer or ovarian cancer. Men who are concerned about their own genetic risks may speak with Sharsheret’s genetic counselor and find genetics resources here. Men who are diagnosed with breast cancer may request Sharsheret’s resources, and we will help them connect to organizations that address the unique needs of men living with breast cancer. For more information on our Men’s Leadership Council click here.

Q. What makes Sharsheret unique?

A. We are the only national organization that specializes in supporting young women and families of all Jewish backgrounds who are at increased risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer, and we offer culturally-relevant support to those who are newly diagnosed, in treatment, and post-treatment.

Q. My friend was just diagnosed, and I’d like to connect her with Sharsheret. What’s the best way to do that?

A. Your friend is fortunate to have you looking out for her, and connecting her with Sharsheret. We want to make sure to reach your friend whenever is best for her, and in a way that feels most comfortable. Please contact our clinical staff and they will assist you in facilitating an e-mail introduction, as well as providing you with resources as a caregiver. Additionally, you can request materials to be sent to you which you can share with your friend directly. If you would like to send your friend a gift to introduce her to Sharsheret, please order our support blanket.

Q. Can Sharsheret make a referral to a genetic counselor or genetic testing center?

A. We can connect you to Sharsheret’s genetic counselor to discuss your concerns and questions about hereditary cancer. In addition, we can provide resources to help you find a genetic counselor or testing center in your area. Learn more about our genetics program or speak with our genetic counselor.

Q. Can Sharsheret make a referral to a physician or specialist?

A. Sharsheret does not offer medical referrals or medical advice. However, we can connect you with other organizations that specialize in physician referrals.

Q. Why has my doctor not heard about Sharsheret?

A. We are happy to provide you with materials to share with your doctors to educate them about our programs and resources. We are thrilled to have your help in spreading the word.  Order brochures for your doctor’s office.

Q. Does Sharsheret have local affiliates?

A. Our programs and services are national and can be accessed from anywhere in the country. We also partner with community organizations nationwide to establish local breast cancer and ovarian cancer programs and support groups. In addition, Sharsheret representatives and volunteers present at conferences and events across the country. Find a local Sharsheret program or event in your area. Additionally, Sharsheret has a regional office in Hollywood, Florida, Lincolnwood, IL and Los Angeles, California.  Find a local Sharsheret program or event in your area.

Q. Does Sharsheret have local support groups?

A. We work with individuals and organizations nationwide to establish local breast cancer and ovarian cancer support groups and programs. Find a local Sharsheret program in your area.

Q. Is there a location near me?

A. Wherever you are, Sharsheret is. You can access all of our programs and services from the comfort of your home. Everyone who contacts Sharsheret receives the same services regardless of their location.

Q. Is Sharsheret staffed by professionals or volunteers?

A. We are staffed by professionals. Volunteers are also an integral part of our organization. They serve as peer supporters, Sharsheret representatives at conferences and events, and help out in our office.  Learn more about volunteer opportunities in your area. 

Q. How many people does Sharsheret serve?

A. Sharsheret serves more than 65,000 Jewish women and families, healthcare professionals, and students on campus. Thousands of women participate in our national peer support network and thousands more have participated in our education and outreach programs.

Q. From what parts of the country/world are people helped by Sharsheret?

A. Sharsheret is a national organization providing support and resources to women and families all across the country. We have also fielded inquiries from women and families in Israel, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

Q.  How many Jewish women actually have breast cancer?

A. At this time there is no epidemiological data for the number of Jewish women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. We do know that 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carries a gene mutation that increases the risk for breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, melanoma and male breast cancer. There are 2.5 million women living with breast cancer and more than 250,000 women age 40 and under living with breast cancer in the United States.

Q. How come we don’t know how many Jewish women are living with breast cancer or ovarian cancer?

A. No one has been accurately tracking breast cancer or ovarian cancer data based on religion and culture. It is something Sharsheret is working to change.

Q. How is Sharsheret funded?

A. We are supported by individual donations, family foundations, a federal government grant, and corporate sponsors. Learn more about why your gift matters, and how you can help.

Q. Does Sharsheret provide financial assistance?

A. Sharsheret provides financial subsidies to eligible women for wigs (cranial prostheses), cold caps (scalp cooling), 3D nipple tattooing (three-dimensional micropigmentation of the nipple and areola). For additional information about these services, please click here. For information about other forms of financial assistance, please contact our clinical team or visit our resource page.