A Surrounding Sisterhood

by Jody Abzug '88 P'21

In October of 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. To say the news was devastating and came as a shock are the supreme understatements. Some of my first calls were to my Eph sisters. 

The next months—from surgery through three months of chemo through the next seven weeks of radiation—are a bit of a blur, but many of the moments I do remember are filled with Williams alumni. That Thanksgiving—after years of inviting them to join my family for the meal—Nora Harrington '88 and Lisa Buxbaum Burke '88 came and were wonderful company. Lisa and Kristin Moomaw Harder '90 came to visit a few weeks later, and Kim Rich Lupkin ’88 took me to a Broadway premiere the week after I began chemo.

Photo of gifts to Jodi

Equally meaningful were the packages that came every Wednesday from the start of my chemo until the end. And what incredible, thoughtful and often unique presents they were. Gifts included a mug in the shape of a breast; bracelets with messages of support—strength, hope, possibility and frankness: "f*** cancer"; f*** cancer voodoo doll; mindless and fun magazines, handmade head covers; Jose Cuervo Reserve to drown my anger and toast my good health. 

One of the biggest surprise gifts was the return of my high school jacket that I had not seen since junior year in college and a letter chock-full of memories that I had sent a friend who was abroad. A huge shout out to the following Ephs from the classes of 1990, 1988 and 1987, who actively participated in the weekly surprises: Helen Curtis, Kim Rich Lupkin, Nora Harrington, Janet Mansfield, Sonja Lengnick, Sharon Burke, Jean Fulkerson, Kristin Moomaw Harder, Karen Sudbay, Jean Fox, Wendy Lipp, Leslie Fernandes Keane, Kate Gerber Kennedy, Karen Adams Finley, Thayer Tolles, Liz Gardner, Lisa Buxbaum Burke and Annie Cordova. 

I continue to find it remarkable that this powerful and compassionate Williams network jumps into action whenever needed. I am not the only one in our rugby sisterhood who is a breast cancer survivor. There are others—thankfully doing well—all blessed with caring responses from Ephs. In addition to my wonderful weekly treats, so many of these women mentioned dropped everything in their daily lives to join me in February 2016 when I celebrated my 50th birthday, cancer-free. So many of those ladies traveled from different states and from hours away to come. Now, more than 30 years since my graduation from Williams, no bond with so many has withstood so much and remained so incredibly strong than the one with my Ephs.

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One comment on A Surrounding Sisterhood

  1. Jody-

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story of survival and courage. I’m heartened to hear that you received such wonderful support from your fellow Ephs and even more heartened that you pulled through to beat cancer!

    Melissa Fenton, ‘91

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