By Pat Halpin-Murphy, President & Founder
This Wednesday, we have the opportunity to make a real difference for women in Pennsylvania, but we cannot do it without your help. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition will testify Wednesday, November 18 at 10:00am before of the PA Senate Banking and Insurance Committee in support of Senate Bill 842 which requires insurance coverage of breast cancer screenings including ultrasounds and MRIs. We need YOU to be there. Wear pink and bring a friend!
Why is this so important? Ultrasounds and MRIs can provide an early, more treatable diagnosis and a less-toxic treatment for women with breast cancer. How? For women at an increased risk for breast cancer, particularly women with dense breast tissue, mammograms may not be enough to find tumors. They may need additional screenings such as ultrasounds and MRIs which reveal cancers that mammograms do not show.
The problem is – those tests are not affordable for many women even though they are insured. We know because you’ve been emailing and calling us to solve this issue. We hear you!
Now, let’s do something about it together. Join us for the state Senate hearing Wednesday at 10:00am in Hearing Room 1 of the State Capitol’s North Office Building in Harrisburg.
Be there. Be a part of history with us, again!
Elizabeth (Liz) Barker, Montgomery County
I had a 17-month-old son and was six months pregnant when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was 34 years old, had no family history and was in very good health. Doctors recommended that I abort the pregnancy to “save myself.” They said my child would be slow and small because of exposure to chemotherapy. That child is now 25 years old, has always been a varsity athlete, and is currently on full scholarship to get his Ph.D. in neuroscience.
That breast cancer diagnosis came at a time when I felt broken inside. A year before that I had lost my little girl Lauren who was only three years old. Lauren was born with Down’s syndrome and had significant health issues. She spent her first five months in the hospital, and then came home with a tracheostomy and a tube in her stomach to eat. Within five years I had been pregnant three times, and felt like I’d spent five years in unrelenting stress.
I credit my longevity to two things: an extremely positive outlook and keeping active and healthy through yoga. After completing traditional medical treatments I saw a homeopathic physician who gave me a regimen of herbs to cleanse out the toxins from chemo. He also practices astrology and every year I went to him for a reading. Year after year he would say that when the time was right, I’d be sharing my story and be in the public eye. The year that would have been Lauren’s 25th birthday, I did a fundraiser in her memory for the Arc Alliance, a nonprofit focused on people with special needs. It filled me with love and energy, and I said now it’s time. I pledged to start exercising and to write a book about my experiences. “Changed by Chance” took two years to complete and was published this September.
As Irving Berlin said, “Life is 10% how you make it and 90% how you take it.” When you’re faced with adversity, I say practice the three R’s: Recognize: whatever you’re facing and own it; Reflect: become educated to understand your options; and React: take action and move forward based on that research.
Friends Are By Your Side is a nonprofit organization, uniting salon owners who share the mission to help women and children going through cancer treatment. Stylists and beauty industry experts donate wigs and salon services. The website lists salons across the country (and beyond!) participating in the program, including 20 salons in Pennsylvania.
Click here for more information.
Want to spend the day with more than 700 Pennsylvania breast cancer survivors? Register now for Pink Zone at Penn State on Sunday, January 17 at the Bryce Jordan Center. Survivors attend the game for free along with 3 free tickets for friends and family. Don’t miss this empowering and FUN Lady Lion basketball game that supports breast cancer organizations including the PA Breast Cancer Coalition! Want to go?
PENNSYLVANIA – The American Cancer Society (ACS) today released new, weakened breast cancer screening guidelines, changing the recommended age for women to begin yearly mammograms to age 45 and every two years after age 55. Previously, the guidelines suggested annual mammograms beginning at age 40 for average risk women.
American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Guidelines – published 10/20/15
- Women with an average risk of breast cancer – most women – should begin yearly mammograms at age 45.
- Women should be able to start the screening as early as age 40, if they want to. It’s a good idea to start talking to your health care provider.
- At age 55, women should have mammograms every other year – though women who want to keep having yearly mammograms should be able to do so.
- Regular mammograms should continue as long as a woman is in good health.
- Breast exams, either from a medical provider or self-exams, are no longer recommended.
The American Cancer Society bases its shift in suggested age and frequency on the occurrence of false positives/false alarms. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) cautions women in Pennsylvania on these latest, more confusing guidelines.
“This is a step in the wrong direction,” said PA Breast Cancer Coalition President and Founder Pat Halpin-Murphy. “Most women we speak with would prefer to have a second mammogram or an ultrasound rather than to find cancer at a later, less treatable stage. The advent of 3D mammograms will alleviate much of the ACS’s concern over false positives since 3D mammograms reduce false alarms by 27 percent and increase early detection by 20 percent. The PBCC continues to recommend mammograms for women beginning at age 40 for the average woman until a more perfect test is developed.”
Pennsylvania law requires insurers to cover the cost of all mammograms once a year for women beginning at age 40. Governor Tom Wolf, First Lady Frances Wolf and the PBCC announced earlier this month that 3D mammograms are covered under the same law for women insured in Pennsylvania effective immediately.
About the PA Breast Cancer Coalition
The PBCC represents, supports and serves breast cancer survivors and their families in Pennsylvania through educational programming, legislative advocacy and breast cancer research grants. The PBCC is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure now…so our daughters won’t have to. For more information, please call 800-377-8828 or visit www.PABreastCancer.org.
The 2015 PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference was one for the history books. Not only did we have a day focused on education, empowerment and advocacy, we welcomed major news from PA First Lady and PBCC Honorary Chair Frances Wolf. Mrs. Wolf announced that 3D mammograms are now required to be covered by the insurance companies for women in Pennsylvania. The 3D cutting-edge mammogram that was costing $60 to $600 for some insured women is now available at no cost.
Big, BIG news! Pennsylvania is now the first state in nation to require coverage for 3D mammograms, effective now. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition would like to thank Governor Tom Wolf, First Lady Frances Wolf and Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller for making this life-changing milestone possible for women in Pennsylvania!
The Conference had other surprises in store for guests and awardees alike. We honored outstanding triple-negative breast cancer expert and researcher Dr. Edith Mitchell from the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson University Hospitals with our prestigious Potamkin Prize. PA Rep. Matt Baker won a Pink Ribbon Award for his commitment to women’s health and our Breast Density Notification Act, and Dr. Wendie Berg of Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC received a Pink Ribbon Award for her tremendous work on the issue of breast density. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition surprised Dr. Berg with a $50,000 Extraordinary Opportunity Grant to move forward with her research studying the accuracy of ultrasound vs. 3D mammograms for women with dense breasts.
Those are only a few of the day’s highlights. We enjoyed spending the day with you! If you haven’t already done so, please take 2 minutes to fill out this survey to ensure next year’s Conference is even better. You will automatically be entered to win a PBCC prize pack!
Thank you for participating in our historic 2015 PBCC Conference!
Survivor Julie Rockey has quite the to-do list. Not only does she have her hands full as a new mom to baby boy Maverick, Julie is busy year-round working full-time and planning the Ta-Ta Trot, an annual Grassroots Partner for the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, Geisinger Medical Center and Evangelical Community Hospital. After facing her own breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 30, Julie decided she had to do something for other women facing what she faced. For her outstanding work and dedication to making a difference, the PA Breast Cancer Coalition will present Julie Rockey with the 2015 Shining Light Award at this year’s PBCC Conference.
During her chemotherapy, Julie was approached to organize a 5K. In that first year, 50 people participated in the Ta-Ta Trot and raised over $3,300. The event has grown tremendously and, over the years, has boasted thousands of trotters from all 50 states with more than $348,000 raised for breast cancer charities since 2010. Congratulations Julie and all participants of the Ta-Ta Trot!
Be there Sunday, October 4 at the PBCC Pink Party in the Hilton Harrisburg as we honor Julie for her tremendous contributions to our mission of finding a cure for breast cancer. Click here to RSVP!
“Breast cancer has been my life sentence, not my death sentence. This award is really for the event itself because I don’t do it alone. There are so many people that help. It’s the whole community.”
Will YOU join us in honoring Julie at the PBCC Pink Party and our other incredible awardees at the 2015 PBCC Conference? Register today and make a day of it!
The 2015 PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference offers everything you need to know about breast cancer in one place. From the latest research on metastatic breast cancer to lymphedema to sexuality and fertility to topics like yoga and nutrition, there is something for everyone. Workshops are offered in two sessions, before and after our Pink Ribbon Awards Luncheon. In addition to the expert information, attendees have an opportunity to connect with other survivors, medical professionals and researchers from across Pennsylvania.
Enjoy our extensive exhibitor area with opportunities to shop, network and learn. Be inspired by our 2015 Awardees’ efforts in “finding a cure for breast cancer now… so our daughters won’t have to.” There is truly something for everyone at the Conference. Make a day if it!
The PBCC is also proud to offer 3 FREE Continuing Education hours for ALL nurses in attendance. Scholarships and travel grants for the Conference are available through the Cary Massa Memorial Scholarship Fund.