A Health Crisis Becomes A Turning Point
Melissa Berman is a wife, a mom of three, a competitive tennis player, a philanthropist, and a cancer survivor. In December 2017, she 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. Now she has found an ideal way to give back to TurningPoint, the breast cancer rehabilitation organization that supported her recovery following a double mastectomy, through her donor-advised fund with Atlanta Jewish Foundation.
This is Melissa’s inspiring story of diagnosis, recovery and ongoing advocacy.
Following a routine mammogram, a follow up MRI revealed some alarming areas of concern, so Melissa went back to her 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 as an advocate for her health she 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 TurningPoint and began making contributions through her donor-advised fund with Atlanta Jewish Foundation.
In time she became a member of TurningPoint’s Board of Directors. As Development Chair she was seeking philanthropic causes and opportunities to get more involved. “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 TurningPoint’s wonderful mission and services to as many people possible,” Melissa said.
“No other place in Georgia offers the same bundle of therapy and specialized care,” Melissa said. She received physical therapy, bra fittings, Pilates classes, cooking lessons, educational opportunities and so much more at TurningPoint. “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.”
Learn more about setting up a donor-advised fund through Federation to make your charitable giving targeted, quick and easy. As Melissa says, “the online platform is a simple way for me to give without lots of red tape and paperwork slowing me down.”