Archive for the ‘Pink Link’ Category

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.

Diagnostic vs. Screening Mammograms: What’s the Difference?

Posted By on October 31st, 2016 at 11:42 am | 0 comments.

Pink-Link-Test-Mammogram

According to the National Cancer Institute, diagnostic mammography takes longer than screening mammography because more x-rays are needed to obtain views of the breast from several angles. The technician may magnify a suspicious area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis.

Women diagnosed with breast cancer are given a diagnostic mammogram for several years following their diagnosis even if they no longer have symptoms.

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 pabreastcancer.org

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.

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.