Tribute in Memory of: Elise Shapira
In Memory of Elise Shapira, loving wife and mother
Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40, shortly after her own mother's diagnosis, Elise Shapira made what seemed a radical decision to many at the time (more than 20 years ago now) opting for bilateral mastectomy with TRAM flap reconstruction, a decision quickly validated by the pathology, having found cancerous cells in the second breast as well. Throughout the difficult recovery and beyond, and along with her husband Ira, Elise did everything in her power to provide the most normal home life possible for her two children, Billy and Rachel. Cancer was not avoided, but it was never the focus of life in the Shapira household.
In 2001, after roughly 10 years cancer free, Elise would be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, immediately undergoing oophorectomy which would be followed by chemotherapy. Following her recovery Elise would find that she carried a BRCA-1 mutation, a discovery that would eventually lead her to FORCE. The inspiration that she received (and no doubt provided) from speaking with other BRCA women was transformative both for Elise and for her entire family, many of whom attended not only the local Chicago meetings, but the National Conference as well.
Over the 10 years that would follow her diagnosis, though never out of chemotherapy for more than a year, Elise was rarely slowed. She continued to travel, visiting Europe, Aruba, California and Baltimore in 2010 and 2011. Elise passed away in October of 2011, but she leaves behind a legacy of inspiration, not for living with cancer, but simply for living.
Elise redefined normal for herself and for anyone living with this disease; she never hid from it, she simply didn't allow it to limit her.
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People who have donated to this tribute
Dr. Robert Talley
Janet B Swartz
Fred and Naomi Hoffmann
Dafna Linzer and Anne Kornblut
Gail Feiger Brown
Nestor and Beth Sanchez
Juliana Sanchez Schafer
William, Stephanie, Abby and Ellie Shapira