Archive for the ‘Pink Link’ Category

Care Package Provides Comfort for Allegheny County Survivor

Posted By on April 17th, 2017 at 9:20 am | 0 comments.

Betty Davis-Smith, Allegheny County
Diagnosed in 2016

When I was putting together a luncheon at my church to make other women aware of breast cancer issues, my daughter offered to help find literature for the event. She called the PA Breast Cancer Coalition and you sent me out the Friends Like Me care package. I could not imagine anyone going to all the trouble to put that together with such nice gift items and great educational materials. The basic information was easy to understand and helped me to decipher all the terminology. I particularly loved that there was a book for the spouse. The PBCC really thought of everything!

I had a double mastectomy in May 2016, and chemo and radiation. I was treated at Allegheny General Hospital and they did a great job. The hospital had a nurse navigator who answered all my questions and told me what to expect all along the way. When you finish chemo, they give you a little graduation certificate. People are just doing their jobs and don’t really have to go out of their way to stop and think about their patients in that way. They made it special. I also had tremendous support from church members and my pastor. I have belonged to a prayer group for about eight years so there was no shortage of people praying for me. I learned that I could do anything through Jesus Christ who strengthens me. I didn’t do anything by myself.

My husband Jessie and I have two daughters. We love to travel, go out to dinners, and to plays and concerts.

I want other women to know that you can survive this. Breast cancer is not the death sentence it once was. There are amazing advances in breast cancer treatment now. And we have the support of the PBCC. Without the PBCC, women might not know what is available to them in terms of information and support.

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.

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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!

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!

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.