Cancer benefit concert lifts spirits

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 21, 2014

Ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is a growth of malignant cells beginning in the ovaries, according to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Malignant cells in the ovaries can metastasize either directly to other organs in the pelvis or abdomen, or through the bloodstream or lymph nodes to other body parts.
Causes are unknown, but some theories exist:
• Genetic errors may occur because of the repeated “wear and tear” of the monthly release of an egg.
• Increased hormone levels before and during ovulation may stimulate the growth of abnormal cells.
Symptoms include:
• Bloating.
• Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly.
• Pelvic or abdominal pain.
• Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).
While some women have one or more risk factors, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily develop ovarian cancer. Risk factors include: 
• Genetics.
• Increasing age — a woman’s risk is highest during her 60s and increases through late 70s.
• Reproductive history and infertility.
• Hormone replacement therapy used to alleviate symptoms of menopause.
• Obesity.
For more information on ovarian cancer, visit the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance website at

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Elaine Greenberg had all the classic symptoms of ovarian cancer, but it took over 11 doctors to connect the dots.

The 78-year-old Farmington Hills resident’s symptoms were “gastro” in nature, she said, and after a year of being in poor health, when she began hemorrhaging, her symptoms “finally caught the attention of the medical community.”

“I might not be here because it would have gone undetected,” Greenberg said. “Ovarian cancer is one of the hardest ones to diagnose. There is no reliable test because the symptoms can be (related to) different diseases and different problems in the body.”

Fourteen years later, Greenberg proudly says that she is a cancer survivor, and because of her experiences, which included chemotherapy  and a complete hysterectomy, she began raising awareness about ovarian cancer. In addition to being the Great Lakes regional coordinator for Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women’s Lives — for which she travels to medical schools to discuss ovarian cancer — she and her husband formed an organization that raises funds to help cancer patients.

“I wear many different hats, but basically, I’m someone who is trying to save other women from what I went through through early detection,” Greenberg said. “If you can’t find a cure, then you raise awareness, and you scream from the rooftops if you can.”

In conjunction with Temple Israel, Living for Music Inc. will host the eighth annual Jazzalot: Music for the Soul cancer benefit concert at 7 p.m. May 27. The concert will be held at Temple Israel in West Bloomfield. The concert will feature George Benson, the Cliff Monear Trio and young musicians from the Southeastern Music Academy Jazz Ensemble. Funds raised from the concert go toward gift bags that Greenberg makes and distributes to chemotherapy patients. Included in the gift bags are a bracelet designed by a Michigan artist, a “silly stuffed animal,” a journal, a CD and hand sanitizer.

“It’s something that makes a person smile,” Greenberg said. “(The stuffed animal) is the first thing that these people, who are not young, little kids, reach for. They cuddle. It’s interesting to watch.”

Out of the 60 bags Greenberg will distribute to selected hospitals, 25 of them contain hand-knitted blankets created by members of the Cancer Thrivers Network for Jewish Women, which is located at the Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit.

The Cancer Thrivers developed six years ago as a group for women who have been diagnosed with any type of cancer during their lives. The group offers educational programs and physical activities that enhance lives, according to Miriam Cohen, chair for the Cancer Thrivers.

Cohen said Cancer Thrivers, which is not a support group, also does “good deed” projects to benefit the community.

“That was the knitting project. We wanted to be able to help other people, and so … we are making these blankets,” Cohen said. 

Everything the women of the Cancer Thrivers use to create the blankets is donated — yarn and needles — and Greenberg’s foundation is a designated recipient of the blankets, which took close to 10 months to complete because it is a volunteer-based group.

“We’re just a little group that sits there and plays with our needles,” Cohen said.

Tickets for Jazzalot: Music for the Soul cost $30 and are tax-deductible. For more information about the concert or where to purchase tickets, email or call (248) 661-6344. Temple Israel is located at 5725 Walnut Lake Road in West Bloomfield.