A 501(c)(3) public charity dedicated to creating materials and learning opportunities to prepare and encourage friends to help and support people with cancer.

Friends & Cancer

Meet Our Contributors

Rachel Abram, MA, MPhil

Rachel was a freelance developmental editor, specializing in nonfiction. Based in New York City, the late Ms. Abram worked with writers in a wide range of subject areas, including literary and art history, biography, medicine, finance, and career development. Rachel was the developmental editor for When Cancer Strikes a Friend.




Amy Blumenfeld, M.S

Amy is a former staff writer and editor of George magazine and American Health magazine. She is a free-lance journalist who has published numerous articles on health-related issues. A childhood cancer survivor, her freelance articles have appeared in O-The Oprah Magazine, Fitness, People, Self, Marie Clarie and others. Blumenfeld is one of many contributors to When Cancer Strikes a Friend.

Friend's and Cancer's first initiative, a 224 page book, When Cancer Strikes a Friend: What to Say, What to Do, and How to Help, was written by a large consortium of cancer professionals as well as individuals who have traversed the cancer journey as patients, family members and friends.

Over three dozen contributors have offered their expertise as cancer surgeons, oncologists, physicians, social workers, chaplains, nutritionists, psychologists and others sharing “What Every Friend Should Know” about cancer and how to respond to individuals facing this disease. Additionally, hundreds of cancer survivors, their friends and family members have offered their experiences, wisdom and countless practical suggestions for successfully supporting and helping people with cancer.

Dan Costin, MD Joseph Disa, M.D Michael Finkelstein, M.D.    


Dan Costin, M.D

Dan is an oncologist, internist, hematologist and the Medical Director of the Westchester Institute for Treatment of Cancer and Blood Disorders, White Plains, NY. Dr. Costin is also Chief Emeritus, the Division of Hematology and Oncology at White Plains Hospital Center (White Plains, NY).  He is co-director of the White Plains Hospital Cancer Program.

Joseph Disa, M.D.,

Joseph is a plastic surgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, specializing in the reconstruction of areas of the body following tumor surgery. He is co-author of 100 Questions and Answers About Breast Surgery and numerous professional articles.

Michael Finkelstein, M.D.,

Michael was Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Chief of the Department of Medicine at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, New York. He left this position to study Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona School of Medicine, directed by Dr. Andrew Weill. Dr. Finkelstein is the founder and current Director of SunRaven, a holistic health center in Bedford, NY.

Pamela Foelsch, PH.D.

Pamela is Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Dr. Foelsch has a private practice counseling people with cancer as well as personal family experience with the disease.

Alexandra Heerdt, M.D.

Alexandra is a leading breast surgeon, known for her highly compassionate approach to treating the whole patient. She has worked at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center for over a dozen years and served as the director of their Special Surveillance Breast Cancer Program. Dr. Heerdt is frequently chosen as one of New York's top 100 doctors by New York magazine.

Julie Monroe, M.D. and Henry Lee, M.D., PhD.

Julie and Henry are colleagues at the Westchester Institute for Treatment of Cancer and Blood Disorders, White Plains, NY. Dr. Monroe specializes in hematology and oncology. Dr. Lee is a radiation oncologist. Together they have written, “Chemotherapy: What Friends Need to Know.”

Michelle Pearlman, PH.D.

Michelle is a clinical psychologist who has specialized in children and families impacted by the death of a loved one. Pearlman is the former Director of the Trauma and Bereavement Service and Clinical Director of the Institute for Trauma and Resilience at the New York University Child Study Center. She is currently in private practice in Rockland County, New York.

Rosalind Kleban, B.S., M.S.W.

Rosalind is senior clinical supervisor at the Evelyn Lauder Breast Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.  Ms. Kleban was named Social Worker of the Year (2005) by the Association of Oncology Social Workers.

Bonnie Draeger Janice Ross Catherine Sherwood-Laughlin      


Bonnie Draeger, M.S., M.DIV.

Bonnie is the executive director of Friends & Cancer (IN MARJOLEIN’S MEMORY, INC).  This nonprofit organization oversees and supports the creation of cancer education materials and programs. An ordained United Methodist minister, Draeger is a cancer survivor and is a featured speaker on cancer survivorship .  She also leads nationwide cancer education workshops for friends and colleagues of people experiencing cancer.

Janice Ross, R.N., M.S.N., O.C.N., C.B.C.N.,

Janice is an oncology nurse, cancer educator and survivor. As manager of Bloomington Hospital’s Olcott Center for Cancer Education (Bloomington, Indiana), Ms. Ross counsels newly diagnosed cancer patients, their families and friends. She also leads community cancer awareness and education events.

Catherine Sherwood-Laughlin, H.S.D., M.P.H.

Catherine is a health sciences professor at Indiana University. Dr. Sherwood’s course on cancer is one of the most sought after university undergraduate classes. She has contributed Did You Know: Cancer Facts for Friends.”

Special Contributors
Gena Asher Sigrid Olsen        


Gena Asher, M.I.S., (Master of Information Science)

Gena is the creator of the Web site BreastCancerFYI.org. A cancer survivor, Asher teaches at the Indiana University School of Journalism and has won awards in web development and journalism from organizations such as the National Federation of Press Women. In November, 2007, the Woman's Press Club of Indiana gave her their highest award.

Jessica and David Bechhofer Jessica and David are a Boston father-daughter cancer advocacy team. Jessica began walking for cancer awareness when only five years old, having lost her mother to cancer two years earlier. By ten years of age, Jessica had delivered a speech before 3000 participants in the Boston Breast Cancer 3-Day walk.  David Bechhofer founded the Boston Breast Cancer 3-Day Youth Corps for 10-16 year old students. 

Mary C. Murphree, PH.D.

Mary served as a Regional Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor, (Region 2 Women’s Bureau) for two decades, overseeing the interests of six million U.S. working women. She is currently a senior advisor at the Sloan Center for Innovative Training and Workforce Development at Rutgers University. Murphree is an ovarian cancer survivor interested in the needs of single people with cancer.

Sigrid Olsen

Sigrid is an artist, designer, international retreat leader,  and cancer survivor She currently owns art galleries in Massachusetts and Florida where she displays and sells her work. She has contributed original block print designs to the book and has written on “Sharing Beauty During Cancer.”

Chaplains and Spiritual Leaders
Wiliam Griffith, M.DIV., D.MIN

William is the retired Chaplain of Hospice of South Central Indiana (Columbus, Indiana). Griffith is counselor to the terminally ill and the author of  three books including More Than a Parting Prayer: Lessons in Caregiving for the Dying.  He has worked in hospice care for many years.

David Jenkins, M.DIV., D.MIN.,

David led  the Chaplaincy and Pastoral Education Department at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, until his retirement.  As an ordained minister, Jenkins has published works focused on pastoral care in the hospital context, and is the primary creator of the  MD Anderson Chaplaincy Department website, Spiritual Pathways.

Gloria Steadman-Sannermark, R.N., M.DIV

Gloria has spent the last decade working exclusively in care ministries for older adults. Sannermark is an ordained minister who has been both a nurse and hospice chaplain. She contributes “Cancer and Older Adults.”