Author Archive

Courage in your Community: Erie Breast Cancer Survivors Honored at PBCC Photo Exhibit Opening Reception

Posted By on May 15th, 2015 at 8:35 am | 0 comments.

patheadshotforplIt was a powerful and inspirational evening in Erie last week as local breast cancer survivors shared their stories of hope and courage. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition was honored to showcase its photo exhibit, 67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania at the beautiful Ramond M. Blasco, M.D. Memorial Library. More than 100 guests participated in the exhibit opening reception on Thursday, May 7.

From the moment they hear the words, “You have breast cancer,” every woman endures a unique and complicated battle. Survivor Sue Fassette is a 3-time survivor now thriving through her connections to the Erie support group Linked By Pink. Survivor Bettylou Perkins spoke of her own struggles and determination to beat breast cancer from Day 1.

The PBCC was also thrilled to welcome Mary Rennie, Executive Director of the Erie County Public Library, Joanne Grossi, Regional Director for Region III of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper and Dr. Greg Engel, Medical Director of the Comprehensive Breast Program at UPMC Hamot as speakers for the evening.

We want to thank everyone who shared in our celebration of life, courage, hope and dignity last week. If you have not seen the exhibit yet, you still have time!. It will be on display at the Blasco Library through May 17!

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Will YOU Help Women in PA? Take Action. Save Lives.

Posted By on May 15th, 2015 at 8:33 am | 0 comments.

woman-getting-mammogram-pinklinkNow that mammography facilities in Pennsylvania are required to notify women of their breast density (a result of the PBCC’s Breast Density Notification Act), we need your help with the next steps on this critical advocacy effort. We believe our actions will save the lives of women across the state.

Now that mammography facilities in Pennsylvania are required to notify women of their breast density (a result of the PBCC’s Breast Density Notification Act), we need your help with the next steps on this critical advocacy effort. We believe our actions will save the lives of women across the state.

We have developed two surveys: one for women in our state and one for the mammography centers they visit for screenings like mammograms, ultrasounds, MRIs and 3D mammograms (tomosynthesis).

The PBCC needs to gather information from both women and facilities in order to develop resources, materials and corresponding legislation to follow the Breast Density Notification Act. Please take 5 minutes and fill out the survey that best fits your role in our outreach efforts.

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Your Donations at Work: Penn State Hershey’s Dr. Craig Meyers Publishes Results of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Study

Posted By on May 15th, 2015 at 8:30 am | 0 comments.

Dr-Meyers-and-BoardThe research of Dr. Craig Meyers and his team at Penn State College of Medicine, which was funded by the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, has been published in Cancer Biology and Therapy. They have determined that a virus not known to cause disease kills triple-negative breast cancer cells and killed tumors grown from these cells in mice. Understanding how the virus kills cancer may lead to new treatments for breast cancer.

Adeno-associated virus type 2 (AAV2) infects humans but is not known to cause sickness. In prior studies, the researchers tested the virus on a variety of breast cancers that represent degrees of aggressiveness and on human papillomavirus-positive cervical cancer cells. The virus initiated apoptosis — natural cell death — in cancer cells without affecting healthy cells.
“Treatment of breast cancer remains difficult because there are multiple signaling pathways that promote tumor growth and develop resistance to treatment,” said Craig Meyers, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Immunology.
Signaling pathways involve molecules in a cell that control cell functions — like cell division — by cooperation. For example, the first molecule in the process receives a signal to begin. It then tells another molecule to work, and so on.
Treatment of breast cancer differs by patient due to differences in tumors. Some tumors contain protein receptors that are activated by the hormones estrogen or progesterone. Others respond to another protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, or HER2. Each of these is treated differently.
A triple-negative breast cancer does not have any of these protein receptors and is typically aggressive.
“There is an urgent and ongoing need for the development of novel therapies which efficiently target triple-negative breast cancers,” Meyers said.
In the current study, the researchers tested AAV2 on a cell-line representative of triple-negative breast cancer. The researchers report their results in Cancer Biology & Therapy.
The AAV2 killed 100 percent of the cells in the laboratory by activating proteins called caspases, which are essential for the cell’s natural death. In addition, consistent with past studies, AAV2-infected cancer cells produced more Ki-67, an immunity system activating protein and c-Myc, a protein that helps both to increase cell growth and induce apoptosis. The cancer cell growth slowed by day 17 and all cells were dead by day 21. AAV2 mediated cell killing of multiple breast cancer cell lines representing both low and high grades of cancer and targeted the cancer cells independent of hormone or growth factor classification.
The researchers then injected AAV2 into human breast cancer cell line-derived tumors in mice without functioning immune systems. Mice that received AAV2 outlived the untreated mice and did not show signs of being sick, unlike the untreated mice. Tumor sizes decreased in the treated mice, areas of cell death were visible, and all AAV2 treated mice survived through the study, a direct contrast to the untreated mice.
“These results are significant, since tumor necrosis — or death — in response to therapy is also used as the measure of an effective chemotherapeutic,” Meyers said.
Future studies should look at the use of AAV2 body-wide in mice, which would better model what happens in humans.
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Other researchers on this project are Samina Alam, research associate, Penn State; Brian Bowser, PPD Vaccines and Biologics Laboratory; Mohd Israr, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research; and Michael Conway, Central Michigan University College of Medicine.
The Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition funded this research.

To read the complete article online, click here.

 

32-Year Survivor Looks Back, Shares Advice to Young Women

Posted By on May 15th, 2015 at 8:30 am | 0 comments.

Doris Rogers, Wayne County

Things have changed a bit since I was diagnosed with breast cancer 32 yDoris-Rogers-for-PLears ago. Now they do radiation, and I don’t think that was prevalent then. I had a lump that I found myself and I watched it for a few months. I had a mastectomy on December 30, 1982, and a month later I started on chemotherapy. I took methotrexate and cytoxan, and then tamoxifen for five years. I was in a study with the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group.

At that time my husband Bill and I had a variety store on Main Street. I like numbers and I did all the bookwork for the store, which we owned for 22 years. We had five children and 10 grandchildren.  I’ll be 87 years old in a few weeks. My daughters are very aware and I know they get their mammograms on time. They always did.
For fun and relaxation, I like to do crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, read, and watch movies on TV. I’ve been a member of the Women’s Club of Honesdale now for 60 years. We have a big antique show and I serve as treasurer of that. And I volunteer at the gift shop of the hospital auxiliary. I’m treasurer of the Wayne Memorial Hospital gift shop. When the Women’s Club of Honesdale started in 1939 we had 200 people who met in the afternoons and the ladies came to the meetings in hats and white gloves.
Now, I would advise anyone, not just breast cancer survivors, to keep busy and get involved.
I’m happy to represent Wayne County in the PBCC photo exhibit. My daughters have gone to different locations where it’s been displayed and I think they are proud to see me in it.

Think Spring, Think Pink! Stauffers to Hold Annual Pink Day for the PBCC June 6

Posted By on May 15th, 2015 at 8:29 am | 0 comments.

stauffers-pink-day-previewSpringtime means gardening, planting, mulching and PINK DAY at Stauffers of Kissel Hill Garden Centers! Join us on Saturday, June 6th at all 8 locations in Central PA for this 4th annual event! The fun runs all day, with a bake sale, educational info from PBCC (10am-2pm), and your chance to win a pink garden from Stauffers of Kissel Hill! Additionally, 2% of all sales on Pink Day will go to support PBCC’s programs and services for breast cancer survivors in PA!

Stop by to grab your gardening essentials on Saturday, June 6th and make a difference in the lives of women facing breast cancer in your community! Find out all the details here.

Erie Area Survivors: Apply for Grants through Linked By Pink

Posted By on May 15th, 2015 at 8:28 am | 0 comments.

Linked-By-PinkLinked By Pink is a nonprofit organization providing assistance to younger breast cancer patients. Traditionally, Linked By Pink serves women who were diagnosed under the age of 45; however, that age limit is temporarily extended to women under 55. If you fit the age requirement and live within a 45-mile radius of Erie, you are welcome to apply for financial help through one of their grant programs. The grants offered cover medical, travel, or living expenses. Gas cards are available for travel to medical appointments, and rent, mortgage, and utility payments are paid directly to the provider. Further details about eligibility and the application forms are at www.linkedbypink.org.

National Volunteer Week Spotlight: Diane Funston

Posted By on April 16th, 2015 at 9:03 am | 115 comments.

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is able to provide support and advocacy to breast cancer survivors, families, researchers, caregivers and medical professionals through the tremendous support of its volunteers.  We couldn’t do what we do without them!  April 12-18 is National Volunteer Week, so we asked some of our faithful volunteers here at the PBCC to share more about their experiences making a difference across the Commonwealth.  Thank you volunteers!!!

I got involved DIANE PIC April 2015with PBCC after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 1996. I attended my first PBCC conference in October 1998 and I was overwhelmed by the content of the conference, the volunteers, the PBCC staff so you can say I was hooked. I came home and contacted them to see how I could get involved with them.

My volunteer activities have included volunteering at the yearly conference, legislative advocacy events, health fairs, education fairs, grassroot partners events, past Board of Directors member,  Traveling Photo Exhibit committee member and others I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention.

I am a sponsor for the YMCA in Carlisle of a grassroots fundraising event which started in 2012 and was called “Get Your Pink On” fitness challenge to raise awareness for breast cancer. In 2014 this event was expanded to include the month of September and Prostate Cancer and is now called “Get Your Pink and Blue On Challenge.” Proceeds from this event are donated to the PA Breast Cancer Coalition and PA Prostate Cancer Coalition. Carlisle YMCA

The best benefits from my volunteering efforts are the impact on the community. I feel strongly volunteers are the glue that hold the community and the PBCC together. Volunteering allows me to connect with the community and increase awareness. Even helping out with the smallest task can make a real difference to the lives of people in need. Volunteering is a two-way street: It benefits me as much as the cause. Dedicating my time and talent as a volunteer helps me make new friends and connections with people I otherwise would never have if I did not volunteer.  It also strengthens my existing relationships by my commitment to the PBCC’s fulfilling and fun activities and the tie to not only the community but it also broadens and exposes me to people that need us most… the newly diagnosed, those not yet diagnosed and survivors.

I can’t pick just one favorite volunteer experience since they are all unique in their own way and they have made me a much stronger and richer person. My volunteer experiences are all fun, meaningful, interesting, energizing and ways for me to use my own personal experience and journey to hopefully touch the lives of women and men walking this same journey.

National Volunteer Week Spotlight: Michael Grabauskas

Posted By on April 15th, 2015 at 10:12 am | 114 comments.

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is able to provide support and advocacy to breast cancer survivors, families, researchers, caregivers and medical professionals through the tremendous support of its volunteers.  We couldn’t do what we do without them!  April 12-18 is National Volunteer Week, so we asked some of our faithful volunteers here at the PBCC to share more about their experiences making a difference across the Commonwealth.  Thank you volunteers!!!

Michael GI had met and become friends with Dolores Magro at a local coffee shop in Harrisburg. One Friday, after beginning her new job with a new non-profit (PA Breast Cancer Coalition), she came into the coffee shop and informed me that we would have to curtail our weekend plans because she had brought home a work project that would tie up her weekend. She told me she had to stuff hundreds, maybe even thousands, of envelopes with information about Mothers Day Mammograms (a new program) and it was going to take a lot of work. I had been working political campaigns since I was 15 and one thing I had down pat was stuffing and sorting envelopes!  We went to her house and in just about 2 hours we had it done!  I helped with anything else that came along. It lead to the conferences and I would even get supplies from vendors to either the office or Karen Byers depending where they were needed. Helped with fundraising calls. Typically now I am a “traffic cop” at the conference making sure everyone attending finds everything they need to so they enjoy their day. And I’m always available for anything!  Also, I got to watch the PBCC’s influence on my best friend Dolores Magro (Now PBCC Director of Patient Advocacy) and how it turned her into the best person I’ve ever known outside my family. She and all PBCCers are my family!
The best part of volunteering with PBCC is getting to see some of the most amazing women in our state coming together and taking control of theirs and others lives and health. Seeing so many women caring and nurturing publicly is the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. I’ve seen men in very powerful political and business positions being brought to tears and joy every year by witnessing the stories of empowerment. It has constantly given me power over anything I encountered in my life.

I’ve had so many wonderful experiences. But I think my most memorable would be related to the actual Conference luncheon. A participant each year asked for a very special lunch because it was keeping within their health regimen. My job was to find this person, find their table, check with the kitchen, inform the wait staff, and make sure she received her macro-biotic lunch. The first year was new for all the entities. But each year it became easier. For me I was fascinated as I had never heard of that diet. And it was fun to find one person out of the 1000+ who attended. But it all came together for me when several years later, I ran into the woman at a local grocery store. She wanted to thank me for making sure that her specific needs were met each year at the conference. There were many years she didn’t know if she would be well enough to even attend. But she knew that I would be there to make certain she had a good healthy meal. I’ve never forgotten her.