Melissa Berman is passionate about making an impact on the lives of breast cancer survivors.
Melissa Berman is a wife, a mom of three, a competitive tennis player, a philanthropist, and a cancer survivor. In December 2017, Melissa embarked on a journey that began with an abnormal MRI and led to early detection of stage 1 breast cancer. Her diagnosis became a philanthropic spark to support the survivorship needs of women in Greater Atlanta. In her role as Development Chair on the Board of Directors of TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation, Melissa works to raise funds and awareness for specialized rehabilitation needs and educational programing for breast cancer survivors.
Years before her diagnosis, Melissa was told that due to dense breast tissue she would be required to have mammograms and MRI’s on a regular basis to ensure early intervention in the event of any abnormalities. Her December mammogram was normal, but she already had an MRI scheduled for the following week. “The MRI revealed some alarming areas of concern, so I went back to my breast specialist’s office in January to biopsy the areas. In February, the needle biopsy results came back benign,” Melissa said. Although there was no family history of cancer, she wasn’t convinced of the results, so she became an advocate for her health and continued with testing until her suspicion was confirmed — she had breast cancer. Melissa said, “It was at that point I decided to have a double mastectomy and realized my life would change forever.”
“I had been worried I wouldn’t be able to enjoy the quality of life I had been accustomed to. However, working with the physical and massage therapists at TurningPoint changed my outlook.” Melissa became deeply invested in the array of supportive services offered at Turning Point and started making contributions through her donor–advised fund with Atlanta Jewish Foundation.
Her passion for TurningPoint deepened when she became a member of their Board of Directors. As Development Chair she was seeking philanthropic causes and opportunities to get more involved. “As I experienced the unique features of TurningPoint, I felt passionate about having a hands-on impact on the lives of women in my community. I wanted to serve this organization in every way and communicate the wonderful mission and services to as many people possible,” Melissa said.
What sets TurningPoint apart is its leadership. Physical Therapist and breast cancer survivor Jill Binkley, who has over 30 years of experience in breast cancer rehabilitation, orthopedic physical therapy and manual therapy and has taught physical therapists, founded the organization in 2003. The staff members are passionate about TurningPoint’s mission and understanding about what survivors are going through. Many are breast cancer survivors themselves or have walked beside a close family member or friend’s breast cancer journey. This gives the organization a specialized approach to providing total wellness to survivors and their families.
“No other place in Georgia offers the same bundle of therapy and specialized care,” Melissa said. She devotes her time and charitable gifts to TurningPoint because of the impact the organization had on her life. Melissa received physical therapy, bra fittings, Pilates classes, cooking lessons, educational opportunities and so much more. Her desire to give back to an organization that provided so much during her recovery has now become her philanthropic priority. Melissa expressed that “national organizations are wonderful and do great work — but they also have large endowments which fund research, marketing and professional fundraisers. My local fundraising for TurningPoint is extremely valuable because the work I do has a direct impact on women in my community who are just like me.”
Melissa has always been passionate about giving to local causes, and having a donor-advised fund through Atlanta Jewish Foundation makes that easy. She likes to see the money she invests have an impact on her community. Over the years, Melissa has been a supporter of Federation, Temple Israel, Temple Sinai, and Israel Tennis Centers Foundation — all organizations that demonstrate tangible results. “Using my DAF makes local giving quick and easy. The online platform is a simple way for me to give without lots of red tape and paperwork slowing me down.”