Laurie H. Rubel

I Am A Cancer Previvor

The killer sweeping through generations of women in her family turns out to be lurking in her own genes too, a revelation with deeply consequential decisions for getting tenure, bearing children and staying alive. 

Cancer runs in my father’s family. Around the time I was born, cancer swept through my paternal grandmother’s generation, leaving no women behind. Among its victims was my grandmother, Hadassah Rubel, a beloved Hebrew and music teacher in her Queens Jewish community. She died of ovarian cancer at age 58, about two years shy of my birth: I was given her name to honor her memory. We are connected through that name, and through the songs that she taught her son, my father — and also in more invisible, genetic ways.

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