Meet the Models, Nina Abelowitz,

Rally for Runway, Oragetheory, Concord Remarks

I have to be totally honest, I never attend events like this.

No, it’s not because I don’t believe in them, or don’t have the time, it’s because I’ve dedicated my entire career to cancer care and I feel I’ve given a ton back to the community that way. And I have.

But when I  was asked to speak at this event, I briefly googled the organization. (Insert snarky comment about not attending  cancer fundraisers) and realized just  how special runway was.

I could have really used this organization.

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time when I was 14. My life as a teenager in Miami Beach was perfect until it wasn’t. I was a teenager worrying about my mothers health, life and even death while all my friends worried about what outfit they’d wear, what boys to kiss or what party to attend that weekend.  And that’s what set me apart from everyone else growing up.

Runway may have helped my family keep a normal life while my mom underwent treatment for her first bout of breast cancer.  

Fast forward 14 years later and my mom had a stage 4 reoccurrence with metastases to the brain/ lungs/ bones. It was really shitty, shocking and quite frankly so sad for me. For four years, while I raised my family and worked as a nurse practitioner, I literally battled to keep her alive. Every phone call from every doctor came to me. Every time an aid helped her in bed, they called me. Every visit with every hospice nurse followed with a call to me. And for me, that was ok, because the effort helped preserve her quality of life and dignity as a human.

AND even while battling stage 4 cancer, facing the end of her life, my amazing  mom wrote a comic book that so wonderfully captured how she felt about this  journey- a big “FUCK YOU LOL big fat middle finger.”

 I published it after she died (I brought copies with me today!- please take one) and share them with my patients. My mom smiles somewhere knowing her ideas have come to life.

 My mother Alice died just 7 years ago at the age of 69,  when I was 9 months pregnant and couldn’t travel to be with her as she took her last breath and while I quite literally brought another life into this world- so much so that we joke that my son Ian and my mom high fived on the way in/out)

That experience propelled me to pursue a career as a Nurse Practitioner, now specializing in oncology. I have spent the last several years in medical oncology taking care of some of the sickest patients and holding their hands, just as I held my moms. Most recently, I pursued further studies as a psychiatric NP, specializing in cancer, so I can further counsel and treat  families , patients and  caregivers who are struggling with cancer.

Before she died, a nurse said, “Your mother got to see you grow up and get married. She’s leaving knowing you’re okay.” I had a partner, a good job, beautiful kids and a wonderful house. For the next 7 years following my moms death I had babies, started businesses, made and lost friends, and I did it all without my mother. So, was I okay? Sure. But I’ve felt her loss every. single. day.

I want to close with saying that I’m really thankful for the opportunity to share my story with you. I hope we can support all the 14 year old Nina’s to have a normal life worrying about only their outfits , friends, boys and parties by raising funds for this awesome organization whose mission statement states “that no one experiences breast cancer alone, and that there are ways to ease the burden of this disease on parents, children, caregivers, and loved ones. “ I am hopeful that nobody will go through this alone like I did.