Last week I was privileged to see a premiere showing of the movie “Decoding Annie Parker”. The compelling film tells the story of the discovery of the BRCA 1 gene. Helen Hunt playing the role of Dr. Mary Claire King, commits to a painstaking journey to uncover a possible genetic link to some breast and ovarian cancers. The medical community is completely dismissive of her thesis. At the same time the movie focuses on the saga of Annie Parker’s family’s struggle with these cancers and the tenacious strength of Annie, the survivor. The Canadian Parker is revealed to us through the extraordinary performance of Samantha Morton. First as a child watching a mother die and then as a free-spirited young woman coming of age in the 1960’s and 70’s, we are witness to both the physical and mental toll of her battles. As wretchedly painful as it is to watch, one has to be awed by her relentless quest for answers to puzzling scientific and medical questions. Early on Parker becomes convinced of a mysterious linkage to these diseases and becomes obsessed with discovering why her family has been plagued by this “bad luck”. The parallel tenacity of these two women drives the story.
Many JWFNY friends from Sharsharet attended the premiere showing. I encourage everyone to see this film and help bring attention to strives that have been made in this field as well as awareness of how much more we need to do and learn.
By, Madeleine Grant, President of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York