PBCC Awards Drexel Researchers Working to Find Breast Cancer Cure

Posted By on March 16th, 2015 at 8:37 am | 0 comments.

patheadshotforplIt’s not every day you get to witness real hope in action. Innovative, groundbreaking and awe-inspiring breast cancer research is happening right now in Pennsylvania. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition presented Refunds for Breast Cancer Research grants for $50,000 each to Drs. Alessandro Fatatis and Mauricio Reginato of Drexel University College of Medicine last week. Touring their laboratories and learning more about their exciting research was captivating.

Dr. Fatatis is focused on metastatic breast cancer and how to stop the cancer cells from spreading. He plans to use the Refunds for Research grant to ready his work for human clinical trials. With Refunds for Research funding, Dr. Reginato will explore new, alternative treatment options for triple-negative breast cancer.

Thank you Drs. Fatatis and Reginato for working to find a cure for breast cancer now… so our daughters won’t have to!

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YOU can make a real difference this tax season. Donate your state income tax refund to breast cancer research by choosing “Option A” on Line 32. Help us continue our fight against breast cancer! For more information on the PBCC’s Refunds for Research program, visit pbcc.me.refunds.

Mother, Daughter Fight Breast Cancer Together 10 Years Apart

Posted By on March 16th, 2015 at 8:37 am | 0 comments.

Anita-and-Kerri-Survivor-Spotlight-for-PLAnita Conner and Kerri Conner-Matchett, Philadelphia County

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh I gave my daughter breast cancer.’” That’s what Philadelphia survivor Anita Conner thought when her daughter, Kerri was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, exactly 10 years to the day after Anita’s own diagnosis. Now together, they’re on a mission to educate and motivate women of color to get breast health screenings and treatments.

 

Anita Conner

My husband and I found the lump on my left breast. I went to the gynecologist and he said there’s a lump there but it’s not cancerous. So… you go about your business. It just so happened later that I was having some issues and we decided to have a hysterectomy. The surgeon wanted to do a biopsy on the lump and that’s when we learned I had advanced stage breast cancer. Over 18 months had passed. Of the 20 lymph nodes tested, 14 were malignant. I had the breast removed and had high dose chemotherapy.

I was very fortunate in that I own my own business as a CPA. It turned out to be the best year in business. People have a tendency to step up to the plate when they’re needed. I continued to work when I could because that’s what I needed to do to heal.

After I started getting better, we recognized that in our community there wasn’t enough information about breast cancer in African-American women. We came up with the idea to reach out to the faith-based community because that’s where the women are … they are in church. We approached ten churches that are clients of ours and proposed a day we called Praise Sunday. On Praise Sunday we would give out literature to the congregation and have a speaker present a two or three minute talk. All of the churches said yes. This year is our 10th anniversary and now that has expanded into the Week of Hope, Health, and Healing. The last Sunday in September is Praise Sunday, then throughout the week there are survivors pamper parties, a health fair, and a program called Real Men Wear Pink. We close out with a concert on Saturday. It has grown into a nonprofit called Praise is the Cure. This year the youth festival will be presented in 25 sites in the Philadelphia school district, and we expect to reach 400 churches in the tri-state area with Praise Sunday.

I want other women to know that breast cancer is not a death sentence. You have to be active in your health and remember that no one knows your body better than you do.  For more information on Anita’s nonprofit, Praise is the Cure, click here.

Kerri Conner-Matchett

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, exactly ten years to the day after my mother. The lump was above my breast area. My daughter was two years old and I had br
eastfed her, so some people thought it might have been milk in the milk ducts. But because of my mother’s experience, I thought I’d better me,-madison-and-my-mom-for-PLget it checked out. It was stage 3 breast cancer and very aggressive. I was 33 years old.

I had high dose chemo, a double mastectomy, radiation, and two more years of chemo and then reconstructive surgery.

I had a huge support system. I knew it would be a tough journey but I didn’t have any doubt about surviving because I’d seen my mother make it. She was my advocate. I knew my hair would fall out, my skin would turn a different color, my nails might turn black. I also knew I was going to get a brand new pair of breasts and even a flat stomach!
My husband and I have a daughter and are now trying to adopt two more children, foster children who were placed with us. They are all a blessing. Madison will be nine in March, James is four and Haniyah is three. A lot of women have trouble talking to their children about MyMommyHasBreastCancerwhat’s happening. With that in mind, I wrote a book called, “My Mommy has Breast Cancer but She’s OK.” 
When I was diagnosed someone told me that a Monarch butterfly travels 1,000 miles in its lifetime. If a butterfly can do it, you can. Don’t give up and you’ll make it to your destination.

 

 

Free Breast Density Webinar Now Available Online

Posted By on March 16th, 2015 at 8:37 am | 0 comments.

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition’s latest webinar, “Breast Density: What is It and Why Does it Matter?” is now available online! Thank you to our expert presenter, Dr. Susann Schetter, Division Chief of Breast Imaging at Penn State Hershey Breast Center, who presented information on breast density notification, levels, risks and screening options March 11. Did you miss it? Click on the link below to watch a video recording of the webinar:

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Cost Concerns Over Shorter, High-dose Radiation Therapy Treatments

Posted By on March 16th, 2015 at 8:36 am | 0 comments.

radiation-therapyRecent studies suggest that shorter, high-dose radiation treatments can be just as effective as longer-range therapy regimens.  So, why aren’t more patients opting for them? According to doctors at Duke University Medical Center, that reason could be cost.

Duke’s research shows that fewer than 20 percent of patients with early invasive breast cancer who opted for breast-conserving surgery chose to receive the shorter hydrofractionated therapy instead of the more traditional therapy.  Researchers at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium reported that concerns over cost could be the reason shorter, high-dose therapies aren’t catching on.  They also note that about 10 percent of patients at community facilities have access to the hydrofractionated radiation and some 15 percent of patients treated at comprehensive community cancer centers received the treatment.
You can read more about short course radiation therapy in the latest edition of the PBCC’s Frontline Newsletter here.

To read more about this study online, click here.

Saddle Up! 5th Annual Ride 4 Life Set to Raise Funds for PA Survivors

Posted By on March 16th, 2015 at 8:36 am | 0 comments.

shelly-mixThe 5th Annual MidAtlanticSpeedHorse.com‘s Ride 4 Life is here! This open barrel race to benefit the PBCC has raised over $9,500 in the past 4 years, spearheaded by breast cancer survivor and horse enthusiast Shelly Mix! Join over 160 riders April 25 in Annville, Lebanon County, PA for target barrel races, a rookie race and junior horse barrel competitions. It all gets started with exhibitions at 8:30am and the show at 11:00am. There will also be vendors, food and more!

Find out all the info, register, donate or become a sponsor on their website here.

Would you like to organize a fundraiser for the PBCC? Visit pbcc.me/hostevent or contact Kristen@PABreastCancer.org for more information.

Expensive Prescriptions? Assistance Programs Available for Families

Posted By on March 16th, 2015 at 8:36 am | 0 comments.

prescription-helpMany pharmaceutical companies offer Patient Assistance Programs for the prescription medications they manufacture. Patients who are uninsured or underinsured may qualify to receive free or discounted drugs for breast cancer treatment and other family medical needs. Needy Meds provides a user-friendly list of the companies’ assistance programs with details about how to apply.

On the Needy Meds website, search by the name of your prescription medication to see if an assistance program is offered.  Also, Pennsylvania’s prescription assistance programs for older adults, PACE, PACENET and PACE plus Medicare, offer low-cost prescription medication to qualified residents, age 65 and older. For more information, call the PA Department of Aging at 1-800-225-7223.

March 3 is Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Day

Posted By on February 25th, 2015 at 3:16 pm | 0 comments.

woman-with-doctorMarch 3 is Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Day. Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a very aggressive form of the disease which makes up for 15 to 20 percent of all breast cancer cases. Pennsylvania researchers, like Refunds for Research grant winners Dr. Mauricio Reginato of Drexel University College of Medicine, Dr. Yanming Wang of Penn State University and Dr. Sandra Fernandez of Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals are just a few of the scientists in Pennsylvania working every day to find out what causes triple-negative breast cancer and what we need to cure it.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida will be conducting clinical trials on a vaccine they believe could prevent triple-negative breast cancer from coming back after a patient has been treated.

Here is the complete text from a recent USA Today article on the topic:

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A major breakthrough could be coming for patients who suffer from a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer commonly referred to as “triple negative.”

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville are planning to do clinical trials for a vaccine that would hopefully prevent the disease from coming back after a patient has been treated.

“Can we do something else to essentially wake up the immune system so that the patient’s own body fights any cancer cells remaining after standard chemotherapy treatment?” asked Dr. Edith Perez, lead researcher on the project at Mayo Clinic.

Triple-negative breast cancer, or TNBC, strikes 15 percent to 20 percent of breast cancer patients. Unlike most forms of breast cancer, it’s not fueled by estrogen and cannot be treated with estrogen blockers like Tamoxifen. Right now, the only treatment is chemotherapy and the disease, even when treated, is likely to come back and spread.

TNBC typically strikes younger patients than most other forms of breast cancer. It often occurs in women under 50. African-American and Hispanic women are also more likely to develop it as are women who have the BRCA1 gene mutations.

Donna Deegan, a WTLV- and WJXX-TV news anchor, is a three-time breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with the cancer at age 38.

“For women with triple negative breast cancer, if this works, it could be a game changer,” Deegan said.

Perez said that in the past, she was not optimistic about the chances for success of a breast cancer vaccine. However, that has now changed.

“Over the last year we spent quite a bit of time evaluating a protein that is called the folate receptor alpha protein. We studied it in a variety of tumor types here in the laboratory at Mayo and we identified that in approximately 80% of the cases of triple negative breast cancer, this protein was over-expressed.” said Dr. Perez. “Patients who will be eligible are those patients with resected or removed triple negative breast cancer whose tumors express this protein.”

Perez is one of the top breast cancer researchers in the world. She teamed with immunologist Dr. Keith Knutson to develop the vaccine. Knutson’s research has worked on treatments for both ovarian and breast cancer. Patients who are part of the trial will be treated over a six-month period.

Funding for this research comes from several sources, including money raised by a local marathon. Perez said it will take about $10 million to complete the vaccine clinical trial.

“I tell you, the marathon has been instrumental to all of this work we have done over the years because we didn’t have a genomics program here at Mayo Clinic before the marathon started. So we used the funds to start the program,” Perez said.

Dense Breast Tissue: What to Know. What to Do.

Posted By on February 16th, 2015 at 8:31 am | 0 comments.

patheadshotforplWe all have a responsibility to educate, support and care for each other. I’ve met and talked with so many women who tell me similar stories – they have dense breast tissue, didn’t know it and were diagnosed at a later, less-treatable stage. We’re working to ensure no other woman has that same story to tell.

The PBCC hopes to gather information from mammography centers where women receive their mammograms. We’ve developed a 12-question survey to learn more about what mammography centers need to notify women of their breast density. Are you a breast imaging professional? Will you help us with this email survey?

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Answers to the short survey will make a BIG difference! Gathering this information is vital as we move forward, informing and educating women about breast density. Thank you for turning advocacy into action!

Dr. Eugene Glavin, Medical Director for Women’s Imaging at Good Samaritan Health System explains why it’s important for mammography centers to share information.

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