Judy Asuleen, 59, director of adult and family education at the Orloff Central Agency For Jewish Education, (Orloff CAJE) in Davie, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 at the age of 53.
Six years later, she reports that she feels great and continues to work at Orloff CAJE, setting up programs to help adults and families connect to their Jewish roots through education.
Asuleen has been with Orloff CAJE for 14 years and credits her co-workers with helping her through the difficult disease by giving her moral support, her doctors and necessary items during her bout with chemotherapy.
"When I first suspected I had breast cancer, it took 11 days to get the results back from my ultrasound," Asuleen said. "Michelle Rapchik-Levin, my co-worker at that time, got me an immediate appointment to see her cousin, a radiologist, who then referred me to a surgeon, as well as a team of oncologists. I had a rapidly growing cancer and their actions saved my life."
Asuleen said "being pro-active" is essential when it comes to the disease.
"I had a mammogram and the cancer did not show up in the mammogram," Asuleen said. "The doctor felt something in the breast and told me that her gut instinct was that it was nothing, but I asked for an ultrasound and she agreed to let me take it."
When Asuleen learned she had a triple negative very aggressive cancer, she was glad she had requested the ultrasound.
She underwent genetic testing and learned she had the BRCA 2 gene mutation for breast cancer.
"I discovered that it was on my father's side of the family," Asuleen said.
As a preventative measure she later had her ovaries removed to prevent the possibility of ovarian cancer.
In addition, she consulted with an alternative medicine physician in Manhattan who was formerly an oncologist and changed her diet.
"The doctor told me to eat fish and not to eat meat or chicken and to try to keep my body in an alkaline state," Asuleen said. "He also told me to drink juice and to eat plenty of carrots because of their rich beta-carotene content."
"The doctor told me to stay away from milk products except for a cup of plain yogurt everyday and to try to keep my weight down," Asuleen said.
"I also exercise a half hour a day at a local gym and I swim," Asuleen said.
Following her chemotherapy, Asuleen said it took six months for her hair to start growing again but it did come back.
"It actually feels a little fuller now," she said.
The optimistic Asuleen said she has learned a lot from her cancer experience.
"I try to eat better and to appreciate life and not take it for granted," she said.
Rapchik-Levin, Judaic curriculum coordinator at David Posnack Jewish Day School, said Asuleen had an "amazing attitude."
"She had a rare type of cancer," Rapchik-Levin said. "She had faith and she knew she was going to get better and she did."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times