Archive for May, 2012

Survivor Spotlight – Tara Ripka: Early Detection Saved Her Life

Posted By on May 15th, 2012 at 11:24 am | 19 comments.

I was 27 years old when I felt a pain in my left breast and discovered a lump. I wasn’t really worried about it because I believed I was too young to have breast cancer. A month later at my annual check-up I told the doctor about the lump. He sent me for a needle biopsy which found irregular cells. Then they sent me for a lumpectomy but still no one, from my doctor to the surgeon, seemed concerned. In fact, before I went under anesthesia for my lumpectomy the doctor said, “It’s not cancer. You’re too young. I’ll owe you dinner if I’m wrong.” He still owes me that dinner.

That was June 2000, two days before my husband and I were scheduled to move out of the house we had sold. We were moving in with my parents to wait for our new house to be built. That turned out to be a good thing because there’s nothing like having your parents take care of you when you’re sick. Whenever my husband was working on the new house, my parents were there for me.

My sister was a great support to me too. After a second surgery to get clear margins and a sentinel node biopsy, I couldn’t move my arm and dress myself. I was too stubborn to ask the nurses to help me so I called my sister and, of course, she came.

Radiation and chemotherapy followed the lumpectomy. My first chemo treatment was on August 9, 2000. I remember the date because it was my parents’ wedding anniversary. I didn’t get sick from the first treatment but a few days later I remember drinking a soda that I thought was flat. Then all kinds of food lost its taste, including chocolate! That really made me mad! The next two chemo treatments didn’t go as smoothly but I knew it was what my body needed to get better. By the 4th and final chemo treatment, the new home was completed and ready to move in. I couldn’t have handled all of that without my family.

At 27, I had been thinking that I was invincible. I learned very quickly that none of us are. I appreciate life and my family so much more now. I had to wait for two years after completing chemo treatment before getting pregnant, so we could be sure that the chemo was out of my system. My husband Todd and I now have two daughters, Shaylin and Sadie. I will do everything in my power to keep myself healthy and I will continue to fight for a cure for my daughters’ futures.

I have a mammogram and a breast MRI every year. I’ve had genetic testing and tested positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. That means I am still at a greater risk for recurrence. I may decide to have a double mastectomy at some time in the future. I had my ovaries removed which dramatically reduced my risk of ovarian cancer. The hardest part of that surgery was instantly going through menopause at the age of 35.

A lot of my friends are under 40 and haven’t starting having mammograms yet. I remind them that we’re never too young and encourage them to do breast self-exams and to be aware. And I tell everyone that if you know someone who is going through cancer, you can make a difference for them. You can help with their childcare or household chores, cook a meal, offer a ride, send a greeting card, make a phone call, or give them a hug … all are things you can do to support them.

The Healing Benefits of Yoga to Breast Cancer Patients & Survivors

Posted By on May 15th, 2012 at 11:23 am | 107 comments.

Two studies published earlier this year suggest that yoga can be beneficial to women with breast cancer. One study focused on the impact yoga can have on pain relief and side effect relief for postmenopausal breast cancer survivors experiencing aromatase inhibitor-associated joint pain. Another study centered on the impact of yoga upon cognition and quality of life for women with early stage breast cancer treated with chemotherapy.

The first study centering on survivors with joint pain was a qualitative study where participants took part in an eight-week yoga program, which served both as physical activity and a support group. Participants kept a journal of their experience and received weekly phone calls to uncover emergent themes centering on empowerment, pain relief, increased physical fitness, and stress and anxiety relief.

The second study focused on the benefits of yoga on the cognition and quality of life of women undergoing chemotherapy. It followed women with early stage breast cancer who participated in a yoga program twice a week for 12 weeks. Following the completion of the study, participants completed qualitative questionnaires to determine what benefits and challenges they perceived.

Both studies require further investigation to determine the exact nature of benefits that yoga can provide breast cancer survivors in terms of improving overall quality of life. However, whatever the outcomes of further studies, many breast cancer survivors have expressed anecdotal evidence to suggest that yoga has benefited them.

2012 Conference Scholarships & Sponsorships Available; Registration Open

Posted By on May 15th, 2012 at 11:19 am | 11 comments.

We need YOU! We’re looking for businesses and other organizations to support the 2012 Conference, a premiere event for the breast cancer community. There are a number of ways that you can come on board to make the 2012 event the best yet! Online registration is now open! Visit pbcc.me/Conference to save your spot for the Tuesday, October 9th conference. Use promo code EARLY to save $20 off your registration!

This year, you have two options for registering for the Conference. You may simply register and attend the inspiring event in October. OR you can register and raise awareness of the PA Breast Cancer Coalition through online fundraising. If you fundraise $75, you will receive a FREE pink PBCC umbrella. If you fundraise $150, you will receive a FREE pink PBCC umbrella and an exclusive PBCC totebag. *Please note: in order to receive the free products, you must raise $75 or $150 in addition to being registered for the Conference at the registration rate. If you have any questions, please contact Kevin Smith at Info@PABreastCancer.org or 800-377-8828 x109.

Scholarship applications for the Cary Massa Memorial Scholarship Fund are also available online now. These scholarships cover all or part of the Conference registration cost and are available through the generosity of many donors. Separate travel grants are also available to those who meet certain criteria.

Register and save the date for the 2012 Conference! And be sure to share this exciting opportunity with your friends on Facebook or Twitter. We will see you in Harrisburg on October 9th!

Cambridge Study Could Lead to Tailored Treatment

Posted By on May 15th, 2012 at 10:32 am | 11 comments.

Using data gathered through analysis of the genetic makeup of a tumor, a new study could lead to tailored treatment for those battling breast cancer. This groundbreaking study would reclassify the disease into 10 new categories or subtypes, giving doctors information to make better treatment recommendations and helping patients avoid unnecessary treatment. This is exciting news for the PBCC and all those we serve, as it could revolutionize treatment of breast cancer and give many women better outcomes with fewer side effects.

The Cambridge study, which is the largest genetic study of breast cancer to date, has been heralded as a step toward individualizing treatment for patients, allowing many to avoid treatment that would be less likely to benefit them. The next step in the process is establishing clinical trials. Within three to five years, doctors may be able to start development of more accurate diagnostic tests.

The PBCC is impressed with the results of the study and encouraged that tailored, more individualized breast cancer therapy may become a reality but, of course, clinical trials must be conducted first.

Gearing Up to Take a Swing Against Breast Cancer

Posted By on May 15th, 2012 at 10:30 am | 4 comments.

Excitement is building across the state in anticipation of the PBCC’s Take a Swing Against Breast Cancer® home run derby, taking place at eight minor league ballparks this July! New this year is an online fundraising component which allows teams and individuals an opportunity to raise awareness of their journey to the derby while raising funds to support the PBCC’s mission at the same time. Register today!


What do you get for stepping up to the plate? Each batter gets 15 swings for a chance to score big. Batters earn 100 points for home runs and fewer points for hits to the infield. Prizes are awarded to the team at each stadium that earns the highest number of points and to the individual batter who earns the most out of all individuals in the state. Everyone walks away a winner with a batter’s jersey, program, souvenir team photo, goody bag, and an overall great experience for a good cause!

We are shooting for a goal of raising $100,000 through the Home Run Derby this year and need YOUR help to get there. If you want to step up to the plate as a batter, register today. If you want to volunteer your time for a specific location, please complete the volunteer form. If your business is interested in sponsorship opportunities, check them out! See you out at the ballpark!

One Lap of America Race

Posted By on May 1st, 2012 at 8:47 am | 14 comments.

2012 One Lap of America MapFor the second year in a row, Jim Roberts is participating in the One Lap of America! Jim, a Corvette enthusiast from Mount Joy, combines his love of cars and passion for a cure with this seven day race around America.

Jim expects to log over 5,000 miles for the 2012 race starting in South Bend, Indiana then off to Plymouth, Indiana, Joliet, Illinois, all on the first day. By the next day, they are due in Council Bluffs, Iowa by 8 a.m. and then off to tracks in Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and back to South Bend. By the end of that circuit we will have traveled over 3300 miles plus the miles on each of the tracks, all from Saturday to Saturday.

2012 One Lap of America CarJim and his transit driver Steve Barrett have several sponsors and have once again added a fundraising component to the race. For a donation of $10 or more and they will put a Pink Ribbon sticker on the car with your name or a loved one’s name so you can “ride along” on their One Lap of America!

If you would like to donate please send your donation to Jim Roberts at 14 W. Main St., Mount Joy, PA 17552. Please make any checks payable to PA Breast Cancer Coalition. And be sure to follow Jim and Steve as they travel around America over the next couple of weeks on Jim’s blog!