IN THE NEWS: Joy Binkovitz, a Breast Cancer Survivor Who Supports Others

Randall Lieberman

Jewish Journal (subscription required)

Oct 16, 2015

Joy Binkovitz current JFS Honorary Board member and former JFS Chair of the Board

As a breast-cancer survivor, Joy Binkovitz, 83, of Delray Beach, believes that other survivors play a huge role in supporting those diagnosed with breast cancer.

Binkovitz said: "After you are diagnosed, no matter how good your doctors are, sometimes it takes a survivor to build up your hopes and dispel your fears. At least that's how it was with me. Talking with survivors made all the difference in the world for me."

Binkovitz was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 at the age of 61.

She first had a lumpectomy — in which only the tumor and some surrounding tissue was removed.

However, since the margins — the tissue removed along with the tumor — were not clear in the biopsy (tissue sampling), Binkovitz ended up needing a full mastectomy — a surgical removal of the breast.

Binkovitz said: "I had my procedure done at the Cleveland Clinic and it ended up being a seven-hour surgery. At least I got a free tummy tuck to provide the tissue to make a replacement breast."

Ever since her experience as a breast-cancer patient, Binkovitz has been active in the movement to find a cure for breast cancer.

For example, Binkovitz and her late husband, Gene, made a significant donation for breast-cancer research to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

And she has been involved with the local affiliate of Susan G. Komen — the most widely-known, largest and best-funded breast-cancer organization in the U.S. — for many years, including participating in Komen's annual Race for the Cure.

Binkovitz said: "The Race for the Cure is a very uplifting experience for a breast-cancer survivor. It helps you know that you are not alone."

In fact, just in the past year, Binkovitz was named a board member of Komen's South Florida Affiliate.

As a Komen board member, Binkovitz has an agenda to make sure that doctors know the importance of connecting their patients with breast-cancer survivors to help them get through their fears with one-on-one mentoring.

Binkovitz said: "I have talked to many breast-cancer patients to help them to not be afraid. I remember one woman who was particularly nervous and I asked her if she wanted to see what the surgery looks like. She didn't believe I would do that for her. Later, after her own surgery, she called me up to say that she couldn't have gotten through the experience without me."

Added Dayve Gabbard, executive director of Susan G. Komen South Florida: "Joy's name really says it all! She is quite simply a joy to work with, and we are so appreciative of her support of Komen South Florida. She blends her passion for ending breast cancer with an extensive background in philanthropy, and we are proud to have her on our Board of Directors."

However, Binkovitz said Komen's primary importance is to help provide mammograms for women who can't afford them.

Binkovitz said: "By providing these free mammograms, Komen saves many lives."

Binkovitz grew up in Cleveland and started coming to Delray Beach as a "snowbird" with Gene, in 1983. The Binkovitzes moved here full-time after they retired in 1988.

After moving to Florida, Joy Binkovitz became a board member of Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) — the Boca Raton-based Jewish social-services agency. She particularly had a heart for helping seniors in the community, helping start the agency's Telephone Reassurance Program in which JFS volunteers call home-bound seniors daily to make sure they are OK.

This past year, Binkovitz stepped down from the JFS board to become an honorary board member, but Danielle Hartman — JFS president and CEO — still values Binkovitz's contributions to the agency.

Hartman said: "Joy was very instrumental in working with JFS and Komen to receive a grant to host a Breast Cancer Symposium. She was one of the presenters that day speaking about her experiences as a survivor. She is very committed — not only to JFS and the work we do in the community — but also to helping educate other women about breast cancer awareness. We are lucky to have her on our board and part of our family."

In the past few years, Binkovitz also has become an advisory board member of Sinai Residences of Boca Raton, the new Continuing Care Retirement Community being built on the Boca Raton campus of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.

Binkovitz also will be one of the many seniors moving into Sinai Residences when the facility begins moving in residents in early 2016.

Binkovitz said: "I've been a widow about three years now. I realized I didn't need to pay to keep up a whole house any more for just me. Sinai Residences is a win-win situation that will provide a great living situation for residents as well as much-needed funds for Federation programs."

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