We’re going to be honest, not much “tastes” better than helping to kick cancer’s ass. But — if we had to pick — helping to kick cancer’s ass while eating pie wouldn’t be out of the running. That’s why we were so excited to speak with Dr. Ilana Ressler, a resident of New Rochelle and a reproductive endocrinologist at Norwalk’s RMA of Connecticut, about a new holiday tradition she’s taken on here in Westchester.
“Being a reproductive endocrinologist, I mainly work with women with infertility, not too many patients with breast or ovarian cancer,” Ressler says. “However, I do see patients with cancer to help preserve their fertility, because their cancer treatments may lead to the loss of their ovarian function and inability to have children.”
A few years ago, Dr. Ressler got involved with Sharsheret, a non-profit originally started in the tri-state area to help women, particularly Jewish women, and their families dealing with breast and later ovarian cancer diagnoses. In the years since, the organization has spread nation-wide.
“I thought it was a really good organization, that the services that they offered seemed very meaningful,” says Ressler. “ There are a lot of resources out there in general for women diagnosed with breast cancer but this was sort of a unique population of young women: new mothers and people who didn’t fit the role of a typical breast cancer patient.”
“One day I received an email about a fundraiser, Pies for Prevention, and I was hosting Thanksgiving that year. I thought that it’d be a good idea: I could buy homemade pies and all the proceeds go to a good cause (and I don’t have to bake all this stuff myself when I’m hosting all these people for Thanksgiving).”
Unfortunately, Ressler discovered there was no local branch of the Pies for Prevention program. “I thought, ‘That’s a shame,’ because Westchester’s such a great community and I know it would be well supported.” After getting her sister in New Jersey to pick up that year’s desserts from the nearest Sharsheret participant, she reached out herself about starting a Westchester branch. Three years later, and she’s baking up a storm.
Pies are $25 each — not an unreasonable price for full-sized, scratch-made pies — and come in flavors like chocolate chip cookie dough, pecan, pumpkin, and even pumpkin-cranberry bread (two loaves for the same price). Sweet-toothed philanthropists can order directly from the Sharsheret website, and even make an extra donation to the organization or to offset the baking costs.
Those interested should place their orders by Thursday, November 15 for pickup between 4 and 9 p.m. on Wednesday, November 21 at the doctor’s New Rochelle residence.
“I just think that the fundraising’s a great way to give back to the families whose loved ones are suffering from breast or ovarian cancer,” she says. “I think that there’s still a lot that we need to learn to help fight. Hopefully this is contributing to how people can support their families during this most difficult time.”