When she was a young girl, Jane Roodman Weiss would follow her beloved father, Dr. Muni Roodman, on hospital rounds and work in his office. Thus the seeds of her future were planted.
“He was really my inspiration,” Weiss said. “When I made the decision to become a nurse, he was very much a part of that. Unfortunately he died right after my graduation, but he left a very important legacy, not just medical.”
Weiss said her father had a great sense of humor and she has lived by his advice, “Always believe in yourself, learn to be self-sufficient and don’t take yourself too seriously.”
A committed career
A registered nurse since 1979, Weiss’s work has included outpatient clinical oncology nurse to clinical research nurse in bone and mineral metabolism.
She was instrumental in bringing to St. Louis a breast health awareness program called “Check It Out,” for young women of high school and college age.
“We went around the St. Louis community educating women about how to do breast self-exams, how to lower their risk for breast cancer, and practicing self-awareness,” Weiss said. “I did that for about eight years as a volunteer for Hadassah.”
In 2005, Dr. David Caplin approached Weiss and her co-chair with Hadassah, Christine Lyss, about working on a new concept in health care for breast cancer which he and Dr. Marlys Schuh were developing. This concept was Gateway To Hope, a program to help women who slip through the cracks of medical treatment for breast cancer.
“Their mission is to provide comprehensive medical and surgical care at no cost for individuals who are either at risk for breast cancer or who have been diagnosed, and are either uninsured or under-insured, and don’t qualify for any government-funded program such as Medicaid,” Weiss said.
The services are provided through a network of partners and providers who donate services needed for breast cancer care.
“For the first several years, I was more involved in the clinical end, now I’ve moved into outreach and education,” Weiss said. “I go out to the St. Louis region and beyond. We have expanded our services in the many of the smaller communities such as Jefferson, Franklin, St. Genevieve, and St. Clair Counties, and we raise awareness of Gateway To Hope by speaking at community resource fairs, community service committee meetings, wherever I can get my foot in the door.
“I love spreading the word about something I’m so passionate about – there’s such a need out there,” Weiss said. “Our program has grown from 12 patients in our first year, and now we have served over 230 patients. This year we’re on target to serve possibly 90 patients. We never dreamed the need would be so great.”
All the while, Weiss has remained active on boards of the Jewish Federation, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, and J Associates. As a past president of Hadassah and Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation, she feels strongly about promoting pride in the Jewish Community.
She said her husband, John, has supported her throughout her career. “He’s missed a lot of dinners over the years!”
John owns John Weiss Toyota and Weiss Brentwood Volvo. The couple's son, Ben, is an attorney in New York. Daughter Rachel just got her masters in social work from Washington University and is involved with the Young Friends committee for Gateway To Hope.
“My grandparents were strong supporters of Israel,” she said. “They instilled a sense of if you’re fortunate, give back. I think it was my love of Israel, a love of my Judaism, and wanting to learn more that fostered this feeling.”
She said, “The important thing to me is to set an example for my kids and how important it is to be part of your community, do the right thing and give Tzedaka, which is giving back, and the principles taught in Judaism.
“Understanding the tenants of Judaism and the basic principles is how I’d like to live my life,” she said. “It’s the values. And we’re taught to give back because you never know when you’re going to be on the receiving end.”
Weiss will be on the receiving end when she is honored by the Gateway Voice of Mid-Life and Older Women at their 21st Annual WOW Awards dinner at the Missouri Athletic Club on October 13.