Attorney Spotlight Part 2: Sabrina Presnell-Rockoff

From time to time this news feed will include a closer look at our attorneys. The posts will be on topics not necessarily about the law but about what is personally important to our attorneys outside the office. This is the second installment of our spotlight as we feature Managing Partner Sabrina Rockoff. Click here to see her bio.

October is breast cancer awareness month. Sabrina offers the following reflections to take note of this month but also to share how her life experiences influenced who she is today. Thank you Sabrina for this article!

“For the past two years I have used my employment blog to remind women to pay attention to the pink ribbons around town this month and go get a mammogram – a 3D mammogram would be my recommendation; but I’m not a doctor, just a lawyer. (So according to the fine print this is neither medical nor legal advice.)

This year I was asked to write for our new attorney spotlight feature in this particularly pink month because I’m not only a lawyer, but a breast cancer survivor. At first, I was uncomfortable with putting something I never wanted to define me in the spotlight.  If I were choosing where to shine the spotlight, I’d much rather tell you about my two daughters – the ballerina and the soccer player, my talented husband who teaches high school, my role as a Trustee for Temple Beth Ha’Tephila, my poetry, my passion for yoga, my hardworking parents, what it was like growing up in Asheville 30+ years ago, Tar Heel basketball, my love for Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen or my ability to quote the lyrics to almost any country music song recorded more than 10 years ago; in other words, I’d like to shine a light on about 100 other things about me. 

But, I guess that’s part of being a breast cancer survivor—we don’t choose when we become one of the ever-growing number of women who has faced this scary disease. More importantly, I think that’s also the point of all of the pink ribbons, buttons, fundraisers, balloons and t-shirts this time of year—a reminder that breast cancer survivors are just like you: we give you legal advice, process your loan at the bank, bag your groceries, take care of your pets, and pick kids up from school.  Breast cancer doesn’t discriminate – while some breast cancer is hereditary, mine was not. I was diagnosed at age 37 and in the best physical shape of my life.  But, breast cancer remains a disease that can be most effectively treated when caught early.  So go get your mammogram and take the opportunity to know your body.  If you are worried about anything that changes, looks different, or feels different, go get checked out.

And what does being a breast cancer survivor have to do with being an employment lawyer or managing a law firm? A lot more than you might think.  I firmly believe I give my best legal advice when I can see all sides of an issue.  Having breast cancer taught me a lot about what it means to go through a medical event.  But our tag line at MWB is “smart legal.”  Smart Legal doesn’t just mean giving legal advice, it means giving practical, usable, relatable advice.  My role is not to lose sight of the big picture, even when, due to the emotional nature of the situation, my clients may have difficulty seeing it.  My cancer journey taught me a great deal about the big picture and how to relate to people in crises of all kinds.  At the end of the day, the better we understand each other and humanity, the better advice we can give and the better we can communicate it.  I’m grateful for the perspective my cancer provided for me, and that I caught it early so I can now use this platform to inform others.”

For more about Breast Cancer Awareness Month click here to go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. Their excellent website has valuable information including early detection, myths, and a cancer FAQ.

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