Author Archive

Berks Survivor Stronger than Ever After Breast Cancer

Posted By on March 16th, 2017 at 12:01 pm | 0 comments.

When I was in treatment, a nurse told me she saw marriages strengthened through breast cancer and others that fell apart. My marriage was definitely strengthened. My husband did things for me I never thought he would be able to do. Todd was my nurse after my bi-lateral mastectomy. He fed me, emptied my drains, bathed me, and made sure he gave me the pain meds on time. It was incredible.

I had found the lump myself. I just moved my hand across my breast and felt it. I got on the bed and asked Todd to check but he could not feel it. Fortunately, two doctors live next door and I asked one of them to come over. She did a breast exam right there in my living room. She said not to worry but to schedule a diagnostic mammogram. I had the mammogram and there it was. I was more afraid than I had ever been in my life when I heard the words “you have cancer.” I drove to where my husband works and fell into his arms. We retreated to our home. We had been planning a weekend at the beach and were all packed to go. I decided that nothing changes, not the plans to go away and not the things we wanted to do. I just kept saying that I wanted to live, I wanted to grow old with him, and I wanted to dance with our son Eric at his wedding.

I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma. My surgeon said that is run-of-the-mill breast cancer and you are going to get through this. Hearing that made me feel much better. I put on my armor and went to battle at every chemo session. I wore the same outfit each time, my survivor t-shirt. My treatments turned into parties. When folks at the infusion center saw people coming in with balloons, they knew those visitors were coming to see me.

God was in this with me throughout. I knew I was a spoiled princess, daughter of the most high King.
I joined a support group called Loving Arms, the only faith-based support group in Berks County. When I meet women who are newly diagnosed I tell them to let people help you. If friends offer to clean your house, let them. If people want to cook meals for you, let them. If they cook something you cannot eat, feed the meal to your family. The outpouring of love, encouragement, and support I received was incredible. That only happens when God puts that on their hearts.

In the end, I got everything I asked for. Todd and I take walks, relax at the beach, and enjoy our time together. I danced at our son Eric’s wedding in May. He and his beautiful wife Jeannie are expecting a baby in October. Boy or girl, the baby will wear a pink ribbon. I have already picked out a onsie that says “I wear pink for my Grandma!”

PBCC Awards $50,000 Grant to Penn State Cancer Institute’s Dr. Nancy Lill

Posted By on February 16th, 2017 at 4:29 pm | 0 comments.

photos for lead story penn state research grants pl with titles
Click here to see the Fox43 coverage of the event
Click here to see the CBS21 coverage of the event

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition recently had the honor of awarding $50,000 to researcher Nancy Lill, Ph.D. of Penn State Cancer Institute. Dr. Lill will use the grant on a specialized project targeting the treatment of aggressive triple-negative breast cancers. Her research team plans to advance novel anticancer compounds, known as schweinfurthin analogues, toward the ultimate goal of clinical use against certain cancers that have been resistant to chemotherapy, like triple-negative.

The funding from the PA Breast Cancer Coalition fills a critical gap in the research pipeline.” said Dr. Lill. “By providing the research resources necessary to undertake such work and generate such evidence, you set the stage for leaps in scientific knowledge that will lead to new and effective treatments for breast cancer patients.”

Dr. Lill hosted a special immersion lab for students from the Harrisburg School District participating in the PBCC CARES (Community, Advocacy and Research Education for Students) program following the award presentation. She explained why triple-negative breast cancers are particularly difficult to treat and showed the students cancer cells through the microscope.

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Funding for Dr. Lill’s research grant comes from Pennsylvanians who donate their PA income tax refund, private donors and contributions from the PA Breast Cancer Coalition’s Grassroots Partners.

Would you like to bring us closer to a cure for breast cancer? Donate your state income tax refund to breast cancer research on Line 32 of the PA-40 form or host a Grassroots Partner event in your community! Help us find a cure now… so our daughters won’t have to!

Dealerships a Driving Force in Fight Against Breast Cancer

Posted By on February 16th, 2017 at 3:53 pm | 0 comments.

The PBCC is thrilled to accept $28,838 from 9 car dealerships participating in this year’s Drive Out Breast Cancer campaign! Hoffman Ford contributed more than $10,000! Brenner Family of Dealerships raised an incredible $5,000 and the list goes on! Thank you to the dealerships as well as YOU, the customers, who helped to make it possible. We cannot thank you enough for the investments you have made in our organization and the women and families we serve every day.

A very special thank you to our Drive Out Breast Cancer coordinators (and faithful volunteers!) Helen Michener and Laraine Forry. You inspire us!

Here are the dealerships who participated in this year’s campaign:

Brenner Family of DealershipsDiamond ToyotaFreedom ToyotaFreysingerHoffman Ford

 

 

 

 

Infiniti of MechanicsburgLehman Volvo MechanicsburgLehman Volvo YorkMaguire's DuncannonMaguire's Hershey

 

Maguire's NissanTurner Kia

 

 

U.S. Senator Bob Casey Hosts PBCC Roundtable Calling for Medicare Coverage of Lymphedema Supplies

Posted By on February 2nd, 2017 at 11:30 am | 0 comments.

P1000580Pennsylvania breast cancer survivors who suffer from lymphedema shared their personal stories and struggles with the U.S. Senator Bob Casey during a roundtable Friday, January 27, 2017. Together, they are fighting for Medicare coverage of lymphedema supplies like garments and sleeves.

Stage III breast cancer survivor Jeanne Schmedlen of Lemoyne (pictured in the photo on the left) lives with the condition every day. She brought her mechanical compression garment to share P1000702with the Senator and explain the high costs associated with lymphedema maintenance.  Survivor Peggy Grove of Harrisburg (picture on the right, next to Jeanne) has spent tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket on sleeves, gauntlets and machines to care for her lymphedema.

Brenda Mitchell of Philadelphia (pictured on the right with Sen. Casey) also shared her story during the roundtable. She took part in a year-long clinical trial during which she was given supplies for her lymphedema.  Now that the trial is over, Medicare will not cover the high costs for her garments.

 

 

 

 

Conference Scholarship Recipient Thankful to be Linked by Pink

Posted By on December 14th, 2016 at 1:37 pm | 0 comments.

mary-law-survivor-storyMary Law, Erie County
PBCC Conference Scholarship Recipient

I didn’t have to go through this alone. Someone else already has and we can learn from one another. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the Linked by Pink support group in Erie. I was reluctant at first but a good friend said I think it would be good for you, and I’ll go with you if that helps. She’s not a breast cancer survivor but just said “come on, let’s go.”

I’ve learned a lot from the women in that group, including from some who have passed. They are incredible in the way they take the focus away from themselves and equip their families to move on without them. They keep on giving even when facing the end of life.

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Mary and her son Will

All the women in the group share things coming up and they spoke very highly of the PBCC and especially the conference. I decided to try for a conference scholarship because of my financial struggle at the time. When I learned a scholarship was granted to me, I felt like a queen! It meant that much to me. My favorite part of the wonderful day was hearing Dr. Emily Conant, who won the research award for her work on 3D mammography. I want all mammography facilities to have someone like her on their team! She was a great example of the many people who are fighting on our behalf, and she was so humble! I also enjoyed learning about the legislative changes that happen in the House and the Senate and how these things move forward. It takes a team effort. You have to have supportive people like that in your corner moving your initiatives forward.

I found a lump in my breast during breast cancer awareness month in 2013 on my 26th wedding anniversary. You see so many reminders but something caught my eye on Facebook and I felt around and told my husband “I think I just found a lump.” I credit social media and the friend who posted that, because I caught it at an early stage.

My job has also helped me through this. I’ve worked in a psychiatric mental health treatment facility for the past 17 years. Trauma is a big part of people’s lives, and when you’re diagnosed there certainly is trauma. After being diagnosed and approaching menopause, it all affects you. It’s a struggle. So I like to physically move. It makes me feel healthy, and eating well and moving lessens the effects of symptoms. My granddaughter was born during the time I was going through treatment, and I plan to be around for her!

JOB OPENING: PBCC Hiring Full-time Program & Events Coordinator

Posted By on December 5th, 2016 at 11:06 am | 0 comments.

PBCC LOGOJob Opportunity
Program & Events Coordinator

Position Title: Program & Events Coordinator
Position Type: Full-time
Location: Lebanon, PA

Position Summary
The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is seeking a highly motivated and energetic professional with excellent communication skills to work full-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 & Events 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’s 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
-Help with general communications duties as needed such as taking photos, shooting video, graphic design and social media
-Travel, as needed, to provide oversight and assistance for programs and events off-site
-Performs other duties as required

Requirements/Qualifications
-At least 2 years’ experience coordinating special events
-Self-starter with extraordinary organizational skills and ability to prioritize
-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
-Excellent communication skills
-Must possess a current and valid driver’s license

Salary Range
$30,000-$33,000- dependent on education and experience. This position offers a competitive non-profit salary and excellent benefits including paid leave, healthcare, dental, life insurance and tuition assistance.
Please submit the following to Jobs@PABreastCancer.org with “Program & Events Coordinator” in the subject line.
– Cover letter
– Resume

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

Vitamin D Linked to Longer Breast Cancer Survival

Posted By on December 2nd, 2016 at 7:38 am | 0 comments.

vitamin-d-photo-2-with-ribbonResearchers say breast cancer patients with higher levels of Vitamin D have higher survival rates, especially premenopausal women. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology, used date from more than 1,500 hundred survivors over the course of 7 years. During that time, women with vitamin D levels over 25 nanograms had a 28 percent higher likelihood of surviving when compared to women with levels under 17 nanograms.

Scientists say higher vitamin D levels had an even stronger impact on premenopausal women. The study considered many factors including the tumor stage, grade and type.

The Institute of Medicine recommends 600 units of vitamin D daily for people under 70 and 800 for people over 70.

To read the entire New York Times article on the study, click here.

Beautiful Inside and Out: Survivor Empowers Women Facing Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Posted By on November 16th, 2016 at 8:33 am | 0 comments.

traci-smith-survivor-spotlightTraci Smith, Philadelphia

I should have been more in tune with my body but I was not. My mother had breast cancer in the exact same spot I did. In April 2013 I went to my doctor at Lankenau Hospital for a routine check-up and I mentioned to her that I felt an ache under my arm. Instead of saying come back for a mammogram, she sent me straight upstairs to the oncologist who did a CT scan and then a biopsy. Four days later the results came back: stage 3 breast cancer. My doctor really saved my life that day by sending me directly to the oncologist.

My family and friends were an excellent support system. Over six months of chemo, friends came with me, sometimes six, seven, or eight of us at a time! In fact, the hospital gave us a private room. We laughed and joked and called it our own chemo party.

Eventually I needed someone to comfort me in a way that only survivors can. I started Traci’s B.I.O. (Beautiful Inside and Out) as a beautification organization. The mission of the organization is to help women maintain a level of normalcy while going through treatment. When my hair fell out I really wasn’t prepared for it. I needed someone to teach me how to put eyebrows on! I knew that I couldn’t be the only one struggling with these things, so I started helping other ladies with the things our doctors don’t talk about … because they’re busy saving our lives. Someone told me they’d been following me on social media and asked if I’d like to tell my story but I didn’t think I was all that interesting. So she said how about a collaboration with the ladies you’ve helped out. I asked them, and that turned into my first book of 13 stories called the Pink Sister Chronicles.

I ignored all the signs and when I finally did something it was stage 3 breast cancer. We need to know and listen to our bodies and take care of ourselves. Whatever inner strength you think you don’t have, get it. There are people to help you but you must reach out. You can’t do it by yourself. And remember, sometimes you have to use your inner beauty to shine when you’re not feeling beautiful on the outside.