Dedicated to Michal Alibayof, who led us with her heart.
She showed us how to be brave and the healing power of friendship.She taught us how to tie a scarf, and to tie it onto our neighbors- forming an unbreakable bond that we will never let go of. She was
FIERCE, FEARLESS, AND FABULOUS
and set the bar for generations to come … all under the age of 40.
A very close friend, Ronny Alibayof, unfortunately lost his wife a number of years ago. This past Wendsday evening, the 21st of September, he celebrated her life with a very moving event. The program commenced with his daughter, Samantha introducing an awareness of tremendous importance. She called everyone’s attention to 5 Under Forty, an organization founded by Jennifer Finklestien, but inspired by Michal Alibayof.
“I was introduced to Michal Alibayof who, 3 years earlier at age 32, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I will never forget the moment I saw Michal for the first time. She was young, beautiful, healthy-looking – but mostly I was awestruck by her positive energy. It was at that exact moment; I could believe that I might recover. She assured me I would get my life back. As I remember it, it was a surreal and powerful encounter.
Michal and I developed a unique bond – and it is this bond which serves as the model for the 5 Under 40 Foundation. Michal shared her courage and her optimism with me; she literally took me by the hand and changed my life – simply by helping me believe I would live my life. We chartered every course together – the tricks to curb the side effects from chemotherapy, to beauty regimens to the physical and emotional toll of breast cancer.
With profound sadness, Michal passed away on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2012. I was fortunate enough to visit her in Tel Aviv in November 2011, as she had moved back home in 2009. She is the first young woman I have ever known who died of breast cancer.
I am now 10-years cancer free; during this time, I have felt the impact of my breast cancer diagnosis in many ways, large and small. I elected 5 years ago to undergo a prophylactic contralateral mastectomy. I have availed myself of many physical and psychological benefits. Most especially, I founded the 5 Under 40 Foundation in honor of the best friend I ever had.”
After speaking to Michal’s husband, Ronny and another friend in attendance, Rafi Fouzailoff, I was flabbergasted by the enormous effort Michal made to preserve her dignity. Michal reiterated to her friend Jenifer, “you cannot give up on who you are. You have to continue to look your best no matter what.” Michal purchased the best wigs because of the effects of the chemotherapy and still maintained her appearance to the highest caliber. Ronny said “she would not allow me to look at her without the wig or head covering”. Michal kept her human dignity. A quality which we said earlier, is what God expects of us. Michal is an inspiration for us, not to succumb to depression and to live life to the fullest, until the very last moment