Tomika Bryant, Montgomery County
It started with me feeling really tired, just no energy, and I thought it was low blood sugar. And then I got an email that the Fox Chase Cancer Center’s mammography van was coming to my husband’s workplace at GlaxoSmithKline. My gynecologist had been telling me to get a mammogram and then the day the van was scheduled, I felt a lump in the shower. I thought I must have been imagining things. I got the mammogram done, told them about the lump I felt, and they saw it. I needed to get a biopsy. That was right before Mother’s Day in 2013.
Afterwards I got a call saying it was triple-negative breast cancer. She started talking about grade and tumor size and I didn’t know what it all meant. I decided to get a second opinion at Penn and wound up having surgery and treatment there. I had a double mastectomy and tram flap for reconstruction. I had to have chemo but no radiation because there was no node involvement. My treatment is all finished now.
Throughout the process, my mother and my husband made sure I was never alone. They asked questions and helped me. I sat my children down and explained everything to them and hoped they would understand. My son couldn’t imagine at the time how mommy could be sick. That didn’t happen. He was afraid. My daughter was all about the pink ribbon and asked a lot of questions. I teach her about looking out for things in her own body.
The whole experience showed me that I’m a lot stronger than I ever thought I was. It gave me a new reason for living and a new voice. I feel like I can conquer anything now. I feel like there are times in our lives when we let fear cripple us. Now after all I’ve gone through I learned that fear is not real. I don’t have time to play with fear.
When it was all done, I said I gave cancer its eviction notice out of my body and apparently it accepted that. I encourage other women to share their stories if they can because you don’t know who you might help. I was blessed because I had a large village of people who stepped in to help.
24 hours. Endless possibilities. The PBCC is participating in the Extraordinary Give next Friday, November 21! The Extra Give is a 24-hour giving marathon during which donors have the opportunity to contribute to the PBCC and the Lancaster County Community will give a little extra to increase the donation. Every penny donated to the Coalition will support Pennsylvania breast cancer researchers. Take part in the Extra Give next Friday and bring us closer to a cure!
Contest alert! After you’ve donated, share the news using #PBCCGive on social media and we’ll send you a Coalition t-shirt! Share it and wear it!
Hispanics have less than a 10 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer when compared to 13 percent for non-Hispanic whites and 11 percent for African Americans. A study led by a team at the University of California, San Francisco may have found why Latinas have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. There is a genetic variation that is common in Hispanic women with indigenous American ancestry that appears to lower the risk of breast cancer.
The genetic variation may work by decreasing breast density or affecting the production of estrogen receptors. Women who carry one copy of the variant were 40 percent less likely to develop breast cancer and those with two copies had double that level of protection. The risk was especially low for estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer, which is an aggressive form. This genetic variant may lower the risk of breast cancer, but is not the “silver bullet” because some women with the variant still get breast cancer. Marc Hurlbert, the executive director of the Avon Foundation Breast Cancer Crusade is quoted in saying that this study is important because “if we can understand how this is protective, it might help us to develop better treatments for those who do get breast cancer.”
To read the complete study, click here.
FRIENDS ARE BY YOUR SIDE is a nonprofit organization, uniting salon owners who share the mission to help women and children going through cancer treatment. Stylists and beauty industry experts donate wigs and salon services, and grant children’s wishes. The website lists salons across the country (and beyond!) participating in the program, including 20 salons in Pennsylvania.
For more information on Friends Are By Your Side, visit the website here.
Great news! We are proud to announce that, this past week, The White House recognized our PBCC President and Founder Pat Halpin-Murphy as one of 2014’s Champions of Change! The Champions of Change program honors ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things in their communities. Pat received the distinction for her unparalleled work advocating for women’s health care and insurance coverage.
Pat was featured as a speaker on the White House Champions of Change panel, discussing the Affordable Care Act and Pennsylvania’s Free Treatment program for breast cancer.
Congratulations, Pat! If you would like to send Pat a message, click here.
Pat Halpin-Murphy, PBCC President and Founder
Thousands of women are alive today, thanks to Dr. Kevin Fox.
Dr. Fox’s expertise and compassion shines through in his patients at the Rena Rowan Breast Center at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center. For his excellence in oncology, the PA Breast Cancer Coalition will award Dr. Fox with the Potamkin Prize at the 2014 Conference on October 13 in Harrisburg. We hope you will join us in acknowledging the exceptional care he has provided to women in Pennsylvania for decades.
Dr. Fox will also present the PBCC Conference Plenary Workshop Session. Don’t miss it!
Watch the video below to learn more about Dr. Fox and his incredible work with breast cancer patients across the state.
To register for the 2014 PBCC Conference, click here.
The PA Breast Cancer Coalition invites you to kick off National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with us Wednesday, October 1 at 11:00am in Harrisburg at the State Capitol East Wing Fountain. Together we will turn the Fountain pink in honor of survivors and families fighting breast cancer across our state. Can you be there?
Throughout the entire month of October, the fountain will serve as a reminder to all women of the importance of good breast health and the need for annual mammograms. Over the years, the pink fountain has also become a beacon of hope for the hundreds of thousands of survivors across the Commonwealth that one day we will find a cure for breast cancer… so our daughters won’t have to. This event is made possible by the incredible support of the PA Department of General Services.
Color it Pink with the PBCC on Wednesday, October 1 at 11:00am outside the State Capitol East Wing Fountain on Commonwealth Avenue. We hope to see you there!
Pink Apple Wheat Beer. Spending time outside. A buffet dinner. Live music. Have we caught your attention yet? Then join us at Snitz Creek Brewery in Lebanon on September 28th for “Party for the PINK of It!” a 5k fun run/1 mile walk event, followed by dinner, brews and music at the brewery. Proceeds from the event benefit PBCC and our work for breast cancer survivors and their families across the state. Want to go?
To register, click here.
Proceeds from the event benefit PBCC and our work for breast cancer survivors and their families across the state. Registration is only $35 for adults ($15 for children) and includes access to the entire event—including 2 beers or sodas on the house. It all gets started at 4PM—so grab the entire family and join us to Party for the PINK of It!.