From Critically Sick Patient to Cancer Advocate With Help From JFCS’ Emergency Services
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“JFCS is our community’s safety net,” Teresa says, and here’s how: Struggling with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, Teresa felt lost and overwhelmed when she picked up the phone and made her first call to JFCS. An attorney in her early 60s who lost her job during recent economic hard times, she was suddenly unable to care for herself and was alone in the face of a medical crisis without family or close friends to help.

Teresa says, “After getting home from surgery I could barely leave my bed, let alone care for myself or my home. Jewish Family and Children’s Services came to the rescue, and their staff traveled to my bedside to assure me I would not be facing my crisis alone. True to their word, JFCS provided me with a health care case worker,  fresh meal deliveries, financial counseling, a home health caregiver who came to clean and help me do laundry, and a volunteer who visited weekly—and all these services were provided at no cost to me.”


As important as these crucial services were, Teresa knew she also needed a different kind of care. “I assumed I’d been given a death sentence and after surgery I wondered if it was worth the bother of going through chemotherapy or if I should simply try to enjoy the last six months of my life and be left in peace.”

Teresa’s JFCS social worker referred her to the agency’s Palliative Care Program and she was quickly linked with J. Redwing Keyssar, RN, Director of JFCS’ Palliative Care Program. After receiving support and guidance from someone who had herself survived ovarian cancer, Teresa says,

“Finally here was someone who knew exactly what I was facing, and could tell me without hesitation that I too might survive. Redwing spoke with me for two hours about how to cope with the side effects of chemo, how to maximize the nutritional content of my diet, and how to obtain complementary services such as acupuncture and counseling. But most importantly, she convinced me to have hope.”

Six months have passed since Teresa finished her last chemotherapy treatment and she felt so inspired by the staff and volunteer support she received through JFCS that she has since started to provide free legal services to women with breast and gynecological cancers. She is devoting the rest of her career to serving women with cancer and says, “Thanks to JFCS I am now thriving and helping others.”

Because of you, no one has to be alone when they are in serious trouble. Last year 3,100 individuals and families were given emergency assistance to help them weather a personal or family crisis and get back on their feet.

Partial funding for JFCS’ Emergency Assistance Program and Palliative Care Program is provided by generous individual support and foundation and corporate grants. Special thanks also to the Koret Foundation, the Maimonides Fund and the Newhouse Fund of the Jewish Community Federation.

If you would like to donate, please contact Barbara Farber at or 415-449-3858.

*Name has been changed for confidentiality

Posted by Admin on December 2, 2016