In Eastern Europe, a diagnosis of breast cancer can bring as much loneliness as pain. When Bori Halom of Budapest was diagnosed in 2012, she blogged her experience out of a need to break the silence. Soon it grew into a support group for fellow Hungarian breast cancer patients and survivors that now connects over 900 women on Facebook under Bori’s motto “Together, it’s easier.”
These words also describe her relationship with Federation partner agency JDC and its Women’s Health Empowerment Program (WHEP), which works in Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina to educate about the importance of early detection, offer mammograms and provide support for women currently wrestling with the disease.
Once a year, Bori’s group gathers at Budapest’s JDC-supported Jewish Community Center for a daylong summit of mutual comfort and support where the women swap stories of chemotherapy and tragedy, remission and resilience.
“My main goal is to break down the taboos, to shake the stigma, to end women being gawked at for wearing headscarves or having shaved heads,” she says. “We never asked for cancer, it just happened. I’m very grateful to JDC. We started from zero. It’s amazing that they believed in my vision and were willing to follow me.”