Author Archive

Update on Breast Density Screening Legislation

Posted By on August 16th, 2012 at 9:58 am | 0 comments.

Senator Bob Mensch from Montgomery County introduced legislation regarding breast density screening and insurance coverage for MRI screening.  No committee meeting has yet been scheduled to consider the bill. Can you help by contacting your state senator and asking him or her to help bring the bill up for a hearing before the end of the legislative session? Click here to find your state senator’s contact information.

The first of the two bills would require certified FDA facilities to provide patients with information related to their breast density and post a notice advising women with dense breast tissue that they may benefit from supplemental screening such as a breast MRI. The second bill would amend existing law to extend mandated insurance coverage to ultrasound and MRI screening if a mammogram shows dense breast tissue.

“Mammogram films of breasts with higher density are harder to read and interpret than those of less dense breasts,” said Senator Mensch. “Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer, with a mammogram missing at least 40% of tumors in women with the densest breasts.”

Senator Mensch’s staff member Terry Gillen said, Kudos to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition for raising this important issue.  As a breast cancer survivor, I know that we need to provide women with more information and more options regarding dense breast tissue diagnosis.

Young Survivor Denied Coverage for Reconstruction

Posted By on August 16th, 2012 at 9:57 am | 0 comments.

The PBCC counts among its many legislative victories the Breast Cancer Reconstructive Surgery Coverage Act – which mandates that insurers cover the cost of reconstructive surgery for breast cancer survivors. So when the PBCC learned from WGAL that Courtney Morrison’s insurer was not going to cover a second reconstruction to correct a problem after her first, we knew we had to get to the bottom of the issue. Click here for the WGAL story.

The Breast Cancer Reconstructive Surgery Coverage Act, passed in 1997, requires insurers to cover the cost of reconstructive surgery after mastectomy and symmetry of the breasts within six years. However, Courtney’s employer is self-insured, and under the current legislation, self-insured employers are exempt from the requirement to cover the surgery. We hope that, with our help, Courtney’s situation will be resolved and she will be able to get coverage for the surgery.

Thank You Heather Hibshman, Welcome Jennifer Pensinger

Posted By on August 16th, 2012 at 9:56 am | 0 comments.

When the PBCC began nearly 20 years ago, we were a small organization with a large mission: finding a cure for breast cancer now…so our daughters won’t have to. At the time, we had just a few employees to help us achieve that goal. Heather Hibshman is one of those people whose hard work and dedication allowed us to grow strong in our first few years.

We were blessed to have her enthusiasm and dedication, and she rose through the ranks of the organization to eventually become our Executive Director. She earned many accolades for her tireless work. Thank you, Heather, for your 18 years of leadership and service to the PBCC and best wishes in your next endeavor! You will be truly missed.

I am pleased to announce that our Program Director, Jennifer Pensinger, has jumped in to the Executive Director role. Jennifer, who reached her 10th anniversary with the Coalition on August 5, brings great leadership, passion, and a thorough knowledge of the PBCC as an organization. We are thrilled that she accepted the position and look forward to her many contributions as Executive Director.

Take a Swing Against Breast Cancer®: Home Run Derby in Review

Posted By on August 16th, 2012 at 8:59 am | 0 comments.

All across PA last month, batters swung for the fences with their friends and family cheering them on in the Take a Swing Against Breast Cancer® Home Run Derby. Now that the last bat has been swung, we can take a look back at the heavy hitters who made the 2012 derby a smashing success. Click here for a highlight video. Check out our top ten teams, our top three individuals, and some of the records that were broken this year!

Top 10 Teams

  1.  Furlong Boys Team 2—2,105 points (Reading winners!)
  2. Neuman’s Crew – 2,050 points (Washington Winners!)
  3. PeoplesBank Team 3—1,895 points (York Winners!)
  4. Cross’ Crusaders – 1,795 points
  5. TESCO Tools Team 2 — 1,760 points (Erie Winners!)
  6. Furlong Boys Team 1 – 1,745 points
  7. Community State Bank of Orbisonia – 1,580 points (Altoona Winners!)
  8. Icing on the Lake Team 2 — 1,575 points
  9. Guns of Roses Team 1 – 1,560 Points (Lancaster winners!)
  10. UTI Power-1,545 points

 

Top 3 Individual Batters

  1.  Bill Klenoshek – 675 points
  2. Blair Beer — 400 points
  3. Jeffrey Lengle – 375 points

Records Broken:

This year we had a record 40 home runs throughout the derby! 20 of those homers came from three heavy hitters – John Furlong from the Furlong Boys had a record 8 home runs in Reading, Joe Oliphant from Neuman’s Crew had 7 in Washington, and Kevin “Bubba” Becker from the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute team had 5 in Reading! These batters each broke the 2011 record for most home runs by an individual.

Gloria Ferri – Survivor Spotlight, Carbon County

Posted By on July 18th, 2012 at 9:59 am | 0 comments.

I was 60 years old when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I thought it couldn’t happen to me. That was 22 years ago. My doctor had scheduled a mammogram for me and that mammogram saved my life. I wouldn’t have known about the cancer until it was too late. Sometimes women tell me that they don’t want to have a mammogram because they’re afraid it will hurt. I tell them that one little hurt is going to save you a big one later on.

When I was first diagnosed, Pat Halpin-Murphy hadn’t created the PA Breast Cancer Coalition yet. But once it got started, the PBCC invited me to represent Carbon County in the traveling photo exhibit. I agreed right away. I’m always willing to help with anything. I know that Pat and the PBCC have been working tirelessly and will always keep going to help other women.

Through surgery and radiation treatments, I had faith. And I kept my sense of humor and kept busy. That will get you through difficult times. I love to crochet and have made many bride dolls, and I wanted to do something special for the PBCC. So I made a pink doll and attached 67 roses to the train to represent the women in the 67 counties from the exhibit, and I added pink beads in memory of those we have lost. I was happy to be able to present the doll to Pat at the recent exhibit opening at the Hazelton Health & Wellness Center. Quite a few friends have asked me to make one for them but I won’t make another one like it. It’s one of a kind, just like Pat is.

Over the years I’ve seen a lot of changes, like digital mammograms and other advances. I see many more women getting mammograms now and talking openly about their breast cancer. It’s really good to see that.

Hazleton Hosts 67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania

Posted By on July 18th, 2012 at 9:58 am | 0 comments.

The Hazleton Health and Wellness Center hosted the 67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania traveling photo exhibit last month. An opening reception featuring a number of speakers kicked off the exhibit’s stay in Luzerne County. The reception concluded with a moving recognition of all breast cancer survivors in attendance.

Joining Pat Halpin-Murphy in speaking at the exhibit were Jim Edwards, CEO of the Greater Hazleton Health Alliance, Joanne Grossi, regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; State Senator John Yudichak, State Representative Tarah Toohil, and breast cancer survivor and Luzerne County exhibit participant Beverly Hernandez.

New Treatment Better Controls Growth in Advanced HER2-Positive Breast Cancer

Posted By on July 18th, 2012 at 9:57 am | 0 comments.

A recent study showed that trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1), a new treatment for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, worked better to control the cancer growth than the current standard treatment of chemotherapy with capecitabine (Xeloda) and lapatinib (Tykerb). HER2-positive means that the breast cancer has too much of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2).

T-DM1, the new drug found to be more effective in controlling the cancer growth, is a combination of a drug that targets HER2 and one that is similar to chemotherapy. The study of nearly 1,000 patients with metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer showed that cancer worsened three months later in patients receiving T-DM1 than in patients receiving the standard therapy. In addition, T-DM1 has few side effects, namely low levels of platelets and signs of liver function problems. These side effects went away with a break in treatment.

More information on the study can be found here.

Supreme Court Upholds Healthcare Law

Posted By on July 18th, 2012 at 9:56 am | 0 comments.

The recent Supreme Court decision upheld major provisions of the Affordable Care Act. What does this mean for women with breast cancer? Now, any new health plan must provide mammograms without any cost to the patient. Starting in 2014, the following provisions go into effect:

-          No pre-existing conditions

  • Insurers will no longer be able to exclude breast cancer survivors from coverage or charge them a higher premium by defining breast cancer as a pre-existing condition.

-          No caps

  • Insurance companies cannot impose lifetime caps now or starting in 2014 annual dollar caps.

-          No cancellation

  • Insurers can no longer cancel a breast cancer survivor’s insurance policy when she or he gets sick and needs it most.