May 29, 2024 Lakewood Women’s Event Raises Cancer Awareness

Gila Pfeffer

Noted Author Gila Pfeffer and Rabbi and Mrs. Rockove join RWJBarnabas Health Physician and Oncology Leadership. Pictured is Author Gila Pfeffer.

Lakewood, NJ – May 28, 2024 - Noted author Gila Pfeffer provided a moving keynote address that spoke to the loss of both her mother and grandmother to cancer and her determination to ensure it didn’t happen to her, during a luncheon hosted by Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus (MMCSC) on May 8th. The event was also attended by Rabbi & Mrs. Rockove and more than 70 women from the Lakewood community.

Participants enjoyed a kosher meal at Patis Café as Pfeffer shared key excerpts from her memoir Nearly Departed: Adventures in Loss, Cancer and Other Inconveniences. She told the audience how the losses of her mother and grandmother due to cancer persuaded her to seek genetic testing, where she learned that she carried the BRCA1 gene, was diagnosed with cancer, treated, and believes her pro-active decision to have a bilateral mastectomy saved her life.

Rabbi Rockove also shared the teachings that life is a divine gift and that it is an obligation to take care of your health. He also shared that he and his family have great regard for both Monmouth Medical Center and Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, both RWJBarnabas Health facilities. RWJBarnabas Health clinical and oncology leaders also discussed the importance of screening mammography, including Alexander King, MD, Lead Interpreting Imager, Julie Chaudhuri, Vice President of Oncology Services, and Dr. Philip Passes, Chief Administrative Officer at both MMCSC and Monmouth Medical Center. Dr. Passes also shared information on the outstanding and comprehensive healthcare programs now available close to home at MMCSC.

“MMCSC holds top national rankings for safety, quality and efficiency, with state-of-the-art technology that provides early detection of cancer,” Dr. Passes said. “Our partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute —the state’s only NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center — provides our patients convenient access to the most advanced treatment options and clinical trials.”

Regional Vice President of Development for MMC & MMCSC Caitlin Olson gave special thanks to the event sponsors, FountainView Care Center and Tallwoods Rehabilitation & Nursing Center, and said the MMCSC Foundation looks forward to hosting more health awareness events in partnership with the Lakewood community. She praised Pfeffer’s address with its twist of humor and candor, sharing: “Gila discussed her ability to thrive, against the odds, all while leaning on her Jewish faith, as an inspiration that echoes our system’s commitment to provide compassion, empathy, kindness and excellence.”

The Jacqueline M. Wilentz Comprehensive Breast Center provides outstanding and compassionate care, from screening and diagnosis through treatment, support, and survivorship. The Wilentz Center has convenient locations at Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus, Monmouth Medical Center, Colts Neck and Howell. To learn more or schedule an appointment, call 732-923-7700.

For more information on how you can support the MMCSC Foundation, visit


Laurie Zalepka