Author Archive

From the desk of: PA Rep. Matt Baker

Posted By on October 17th, 2016 at 3:53 pm | 0 comments.

rep-baker-headshot-for-plHouse Health Committee Chair sheds light on what Breast Cancer Awareness Month means to him

This past year I was humbled and honored to receive the PA. Breast Cancer Coalition Pink Ribbon award, their highest award, and dedicate it to my sister-in-law fighting a rare form of inflammatory breast cancer.

Every woman who conquers breast cancer has an amazing story to share of their journey.  The one common thread in every story is that early detection saves lives.  October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” and it’s hard to forget with pink ribbons, ties, and professional athletes wearing pink.

The statistics bear repeating.  One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.  Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and is the second leading cause of cancer death among women.  Each year, more than 246,660 women and 40,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the nation.

One statistic that is trending in a positive direction is the number of people – 2.8 million – who are breast cancer survivors.  They are living full lives after having been diagnosed.

Pennsylvania is making strides in the continued effort to support those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.  The Breast Density Notification Act requires mammography providers to notify women categorized as having dense breast tissue and about their condition.  Knowledge is power and this law has improved detection and prevention by educating patients about dense breast tissue and how it could conceal possible abnormalities during mammographic procedures.

Three-dimensional mammograms were approved by the Food and Drug Administration five years ago.  In 2014, the American College of Radiology declared tomosynthesis, the medical term for three-dimensional mammography, to no longer be a mere investigational tool.  Pennsylvania followed up last year by becoming the first state to require insurers to cover all screening mammograms, including the 3-D versions, at no out-of-pocket cost to consumers.  To see a list of the mammography facilities that offer 3D mammograms in Pennsylvania, please visit the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition’s website at

In July Pennsylvania became the 42nd state to provide patients equal access to anti-cancer treatments with the enactment of oral chemotherapy legislation (Act 73 of 2016).  I was proud to author the enabling Oral Chemo Parity Legislation (House Bill 60).

Chemotherapy can have a violent effect on the human body as it does its job.  Oral chemotherapy drugs are often as strong as those administered intravenously and may have fewer side effects.  In some instances, oral medications are the only form of chemotherapy a patient can handle.

There is also the financial impact.  Prior to Act 73, orally-administered chemotherapy was covered under a health plan’s pharmacy benefit, which required patients to pay a percentage of the total cost of the drug (generally between 25-30 percent).  This created an enormous financial barrier for patients to access these drugs prescribed by their cancer physician for treatment.  Act 73 prohibits insurance policies from placing oral anti-cancer medications on a specialty tier or charging a copay for the medication.

Hopefully, these measures will help in saving lives and make treatment of breast cancer more tolerable and successful.  The end goal is to eradicate this disease.  Continued support of innovative and high-impact research will someday hopefully lead to the cure.

Survivor Spotlight: Lynne Weber

Posted By on September 16th, 2016 at 8:30 am | 0 comments.

lynne-weber-for-plLynne Weber, Cumberland County

My sister was diagnosed with breast cancer one month before I was. Other than that, we had no family history. I felt like I was sucker-punching my Mom and my Dad, knocking the wind out of them so soon after my sister’s news. Mine was found through a routine screening mammogram in January 2014. Initially I had a lumpectomy but since it had spread to the lymph nodes, rather than stage 1 it was stage 3. I had chemo then a double mastectomy, radiation, and reconstruction.

Throughout treatment I attended a support group and in addition to that had incredible support from friends and family. My mother came out for my surgery, friends came to be with me, and the people at HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College) were flexible and accommodating for my schedule. And once we figured out what I could eat during chemo, my significant other John made sure we always had those foods ready. That was mostly what I called the “white diet,” … mashed potatoes and mild things.

I love to read and to garden and kept that up during treatment. Now that I’m feeling better I like to travel. This summer I went to Romania with a group from HACC. A colleague teaches a course looking at child development in Romania and the students learn about our system compared to theirs. I was able to join them as the second faculty member. It was really powerful for the students, and for me. I was glad to be healthy enough to go.

One interesting thing is that when all my hair fell out, I didn’t really mind being bald. I had wigs and hats and everything but I actually thought being bald was kind of cool. Usually a wore a hat outside because I didn’t want my head to be sunburned but I didn’t feel like I always needed to be wearing a perfect wig. I wasn’t prepared for losing my eyebrows though!

My advice to other women is this: The doctors are doing their job and you have to do yours as a patient. Eat healthy and exercise even if you don’t want to. I made sure I walked and even ran a little bit. Some research has come out indicating that the chemo might even work better if you’re exercising. Going through breast cancer treatment taught me that I’m stronger than I knew I was. When you’re looking at surgery, radiation, more surgery, you can think there’s no way I can go through all that. Now it seems like a long time ago. I’ve learned to value my time and how I spend it.

Cutting Out Chemo? Genetic Test Could Reduce Need for Chemotherapy Among Some Breast Cancer Patients

Posted By on September 1st, 2016 at 9:35 am | 0 comments.

Cutting chemo for PLResearchers say they have found a gene that could cut chemo for some breast cancer patients. According to the European study, published in New England Journal of Medicine, a test called MammaPrint that examines 70 genes can determine whether a patient is high or low risk for recurrence. Researchers studied a group of 1,500 women with breast cancer that had not spread to the lymph nodes.  One group of women considered high risk based on the genetic testing received chemo. The other group, deemed low risk, did not. After 5 years, scientists say survival rates for the two groups were similar. The women who did not receive chemo had a 95 percent survival rate.

According to the findings, nearly half of women with breast cancer who are classified as high risk based on clinical factors may not need chemo. Researchers say, however, the choice to include chemotherapy as part of a treatment regimen remains an individualized decision between doctors and patients. To read more on this study, click here.

In Depth: PA’s Oral Parity Law for Cancer Treatment

Posted By on September 1st, 2016 at 9:31 am | 0 comments.

oral parity law for PL with logo 2Guest author: Kim Kockler, Independence Blue Cross

On July 8, 2016, House Bill 60 was signed into law by Governor Wolf as Act 73, 2016.  The legislation requires health insurance companies to provide coverage for oral chemotherapy medications or impose cost sharing on a no less favorable basis than intravenous (IV) or injected chemotherapy medications for cancer patients. The new law is intended to establish a level of parity for patients regardless of the type of cancer chemotherapy medication they are being prescribed – oral medication or injected medication. It is important for consumers to understand the practical implications of the new law. The following are some points to keep in mind:

•    The legislation applies only if a health insurance policy already includes coverage for IV or injected chemotherapy medications that are FDA-approved.

•    Under the law, insurers are prohibited from increasing cost sharing for chemotherapy medications for the purpose of avoiding complying with the law. Cost sharing examples include a co-payment, coinsurance or other out-of-pocket expense a consumer may have as required under their health insurance policy.

•    Oral chemotherapy medications may be subject to a health insurance plan’s prior authorization requirements. This means that the health insurance plan may require the provider who is treating the patient to get prior approval from the health insurance company before medication is dispensed to the patient. The law allows the health insurance company to consider both the medical necessity and cost of the oral chemotherapy medication in comparison to IV or injected chemotherapy medication when making a prior authorization determination.

•    The specific number and type of oral chemotherapy medications that are covered may vary by insurer and type of health plan.

It is also important to note which types of health insurance plans fall under the new law and the effective date. Act 73 applies to health insurance plans purchased by individuals as well as fully-insured small and large group plans offered by employers. The Act does not apply to self-funded plans. For those with insurance provided by their employer, it is best to check with the employer to inquire if the health insurance plan is self-funded.

The new law is effective for plans issued or renewed on or after January 8, 2017 for fully-insured large group health plans.  For individual and small group plans, Act 73 is effective on or after January 1, 2018.
It is recommended that consumers check with their health insurance company to determine specifically how the new law applies to their particular coverage.

JOB OPPORTUNITY: Part-time Program Coordinator

Posted By on August 23rd, 2016 at 4:03 pm | 0 comments.

PBCC LOGOOrganization Background

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition (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 organization with a board of directors and a network of volunteers across the state. The PBCC exists to help the 13,500 women in this state who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, to support the families of the 2,200 women who will die from it and to serve as a resource for the hundreds of thousands more women currently living with the disease.

Position Summary

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is seeking a highly motivated, experienced, energetic professional with excellent communication skills to work part-time in the Lebanon, PA office.  This position will require some travel across Pennsylvania to committee meetings and will include some night/weekend work.

The Program Coordinator will manage the PBCC’s traveling photo exhibit, “67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in PA” and will also assist other staff members on programs such as the PBCC Community Advocacy and Research Education for Students (CARES) program, and our Research Grant publicity events.  We’re seeking a people person, someone who can work with different personality types and is serious about getting the job done. We need someone who’s reliable, focused, friendly, and detail-oriented.

The ideal candidate should possess a minimum of two years’ experience handling all aspects of event and program planning, be proficient in MS Office and the Adobe Design Suite of programs, have strong oral/written communication skills and work well in a fast-paced team environment.

Key Job Responsibilities

  • Oversee all details of the PBCC’s travelling photo exhibit: “67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania”
  • Assist with the PBCC’s CARES program and Research Grant publicity events
  • Develop new relationships,  additional event sponsorships and/or and grassroots partner events by growing program related contacts
  • Write event recaps for PBCC publications as needed
  • Travel, as needed, to provide oversight and assistance for programs and events off-site


  • Excellent communication skills
  • Highly organized with the ability to multi-task and work productively in a team setting
  • Willingness to travel and attend occasional evening and weekend events
  • Comfort using Microsoft Office suite, Adobe InDesign and Photoshop
  • At least 2 years’ experience coordinating special events

Job Details

This position has flexible hours and is for up to 30 hours per week. The pay is $15 an hour.   This is a grant funded position funded through June 2017 with an excellent possibility of renewal. 

Please submit the following to with “Program Coordinator” in the subject line.

–        Cover letter
–        Resume

No phone calls please.  The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Conference Scholarships and Travel Grants Available through Cary Massa Fund

Posted By on August 16th, 2016 at 1:47 pm | 0 comments.

Cary Massa portraitThe PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference is educational, inspirational and FUN! Make a day of it! Want to attend, but can’t afford the registration fee? Scholarships are available through the Cary Massa Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The Cary Massa Memorial Scholarship Fund has allowed hundreds of women to attend the Conference, free of charge.

Cary was a wife, a mother, a friend, a fighter and a shining light to those around her. She passed away from breast cancer in 2006, but Cary’s husband, Robert, her family, friends and fellow members of the ABCs Support Group have chosen to preserve her memory through the fund. To learn more about Cary’s legacy, click here to watch the video.

Click here to apply for a scholarship through the Cary Massa Fund

New for 2016: Caregivers are eligible for a special registration fee of $25. Nurses, social workers and radiologic techs who attend will receive 3 FREE continuing education hours!

This activity has been submitted to Pennsylvania State Nurses Association for approval to award contact hours. Pennsylvania State Nurses Association is accredited as an approver of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

This educational activity has been submitted to NASW-PA for CE approval
This educational activity has been submitted to the ASRT for CE approval


First in the Nation: Governor Wolf Signs Statement Covering 3D Mammograms in PA

Posted By on August 16th, 2016 at 10:15 am | 0 comments.

Pat and Governor Wolf rounded cornersOn October 5, 2015, Governor Tom Wolf made Pennsylvania the first state in the nation to require insurance coverage of 3D screening mammograms for women insured under PA law. First Lady Frances Wolf made the historic announcement almost one year ago at the PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference in Harrisburg. Now, 3D screenings mammograms are covered at no additional cost to insured women and women covered through Medicaid.

To mark the 1st anniversary of the groundbreaking news, the PBCC is informing women across the state about how to access 3D screening mammograms in their area. We’ve launched a 1-question survey of all mammography centers. At our Conference October 10, we will release a list of the Pennsylvania 3D mammography centers. The list will also be published on our website, in our Frontline newsletter and right here in PinkLink.

Do you work for a mammography center that offers 3D screening mammograms? Don’t miss the list! Take the survey now and make sure your facility is listed as a 3D mammography provider.

Take the survey button

PBCC Photo Exhibit Participant Stresses Importance of Early Detection, Screenings

Posted By on August 16th, 2016 at 10:07 am | 0 comments.

Dorothy Klyap for PL

Dorothy Klyap, Indiana County

I heard so many horror stories but my story was nothing like that. My regular yearly mammogram found my breast cancer in May 2010 and no one ever wants to hear those words, “you have breast cancer.” What is amazing now is that when I look back on it, it has taught me so much.

After chemo treatment, I couldn’t eat for the first two days but I never got sick. I must really have an angel on my shoulder. My husband Jim attended every one of my treatments with me. Our son who lives in Montana flew home to be with me through my first chemo treatment. Our daughter lives nearby and she’s the one who always pushed me to get mammograms, and she’s the one who brought me meals.

I first learned about the PBCC through my nurse navigator. Since then I was honored to be asked to represent Indiana County in the PBCC’s traveling photo exhibit, along with Maria Swinconis and Mary Waugaman. I was a guest at the 2015 conference and heard the announcement that 3D mammograms are now covered by insurance, and I called to tell my daughter that news right away. Indiana Hospital just got 3D mammograms and I said, “Honey, go get that mammogram!” I learned so much at that conference. There were things I forgot to ask my doctor and I was able to bring home so much medical information.

We live in a beautiful home on 40 acres the woods. There is a property connected to ours with a house that had been empty for over seven years. Sometimes during treatment, I’d go back there and sit on the rickety steps where my husband couldn’t see me crying. I dreamed of owning that house and now I do! I put every bit of paint and wallpaper on it myself. My husband wanted to name it Dorothy’s Dream House but I’m calling it B & J Retreat after my daughter Bridget and son Jimmy. We rent it out by the night or by the week. My beautician is planning to hold meditation classes there.

My favorite things to do are sewing and gardening. I just bought fabric to make drapes for my living room. I have vegetables and flowers in my garden and everyone laughs at this but I love getting on my tractor and mowing the grass. That’s my meditation time. Two weeks from now I’m having knee surgery. The surgeon wanted to have a physical therapist work with me until he heard that my husband and I cut down two big trees on Saturday. He said, “You do enough. You won’t need a therapist.” I don’t stop.