Helen Michener, Perry County
I spent most of my nursing career in pediatrics but occasionally would also moonlight a few shifts a week in oncology. I decided then and there that if breast cancer ever happened to me I would have a mastectomy to feel like the cancer was gone. It DID happen to me. And my life changed forever.
My routine mammogram in October 2013 revealed areas of calcification that weren’t there the year before. I was very lucky that it hadn’t spread to the lymph nodes and it was in the early stage. I didn’t need chemo or radiation after the surgery and I’m taking tamoxifen for five years.
I feel like I breezed through it physically, but not emotionally. It changes your life. At first I wanted to just forget about it and not tell people because I didn’t want it to define me. I learned though how to integrate breast cancer into who I am rather than integrating myself into breast cancer. One of the ways I did that was to embrace the community I’m now part of with the PBCC. I visited Kristen Snoke, PBCC Community Outreach Director to discuss how I could help. It seemed like raising funds through grassroots efforts would be a good fit for me. I created a wine-tasting event, Toasting for a Cure at the Vineyard in the spring and we made $8,355. I now know that that’s very good for a first-time effort. I’m planning a fall fundraiser called Drive Out Breast Cancer, and hope to get car dealerships to donate $25 for every new car they sell throughout the month of October.
My husband Bob and I live in an intentional community of seven families who own a 140-acre farm together. It was a great place to raise our children. We have a son and a daughter and two granddaughters. My granddaughter Amelia was ten years old when I was diagnosed and she said, “You talked to Mommy for a long time and now she’s sad. Breast cancer, that’s bad, isn’t it?” I told her, “No, honey, it doesn’t have to be.” Amelia and Kasey are both part of Art Symphony for a Cause and make crafts they sell for nonprofits. They came to the wine tasting and made $170 to donate to the PBCC. The PBCC tagline “finding a cure for breast cancer now … so our daughters won’t have to” really speaks to my heart.
Have dense breasts? You may need extra tests. If you opt for a 3D mammogram, WE believe, your 3D mammogram should be covered under current law. 3D mammograms are mammograms. Are you with us? How can YOU help?
Tell us your story. Send an email to Info@PABreastCancer.org with “3D Mammograms” in the subject line. Tell us why you are so passionate about this topic (like we are!) and why you feel 3D mammograms should be treated the same as 2D screening mammograms when it comes to billing and insurance. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is taking action on this important issue, but we cannot do it alone. Send us your story today!
Now through October 31, you can make a difference for Pennsylvania women facing breast cancer, with one simple text message. Text “HOPEPA” to 89800 and Sutter Home Winery will donate $1 to the PA Breast Cancer Coalition. Plus, a portion of Sutter Home wine sales in PA will also be donated to our cause.
The texting campaign runs through the end of October. Standard data and messaging rates apply. Sutter Home will donate up to $10,000 to the PBCC during that time period, so get texting!
Look for this ad at your local wine and spirits store and help us provide hope in PA for survivors and their families:
A new study points to electroacupuncture as an effective treatment for hot flashes in women who received estrogen-targeted therapies for breast cancer. Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania studied 120 breast cancer survivors experiencing hot flashes on a daily basis. After 8 weeks, the patients receiving electroacupuncture showed greater results than those taking common drugs used to treat the symptoms.
What is electroacupuncture? Electroacupuncture is a procedure in which embedded needles deliver weak electrical currents to the body. According to the study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, patients say they experienced fewer hot flashes during the electroacupuncture than with other treatments.
To read the complete study results, click here.
President’s Corner by Pat Halpin-Murphy
To say Dr. Edith Mitchell, our 2015 Potamkin Prize Winner, is accomplished would be an understatement. She’s an oncologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, a triple-negative breast cancer expert, a Brigadier General, a mother, a wife and a humanitarian. The list goes on from there. Dr. Mitchell currently works with breast cancer patients and students at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital’s Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center and serves as President of the National Medical Association.
The Vivian and Meyer P. Potamkin Foundation Prize for Breast Cancer Research is an annual award presented to an individual who is performing outstanding or groundbreaking work in the field of breast cancer research. It is someone who demonstrates vision and commitment to providing the best possible treatment and outcome for patients, and leadership in the breast cancer community. Dr. Mitchell embodies that commitment, making breakthroughs in triple-negative breast cancer research and treatment while caring for patients every day. Her work has made a direct impact on the women served by the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, and throughout the world. Congratulations, Dr. Mitchell!
Will YOU join us in honoring Dr. Mitchell on Monday, October 5? Register today and experience Pennsylvania’s premier statewide breast cancer conference. Make a day of it!
Messages of hope and courage will accompany the hustle and bustle of travelers at Harrisburg International Airport this fall. The PA Breast Cancer Coalition’s photo exhibit, 67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania will be on display at HIA Sept. 24 – October 6. Don’t miss our kick-off opening reception Thursday, Sept. 24 beginning at 6:00pm with light refreshments following by a program including local breast cancer survivors. Want to attend?
The photo exhibit shares real quotes and photos from women who have faced breast cancer in all of PA’s 67 counties while promoting the importance of early detection. To RSVP for the opening reception, email Stacy@PABreastCancer.org or call 800-377-8828, ext. 3040. We hope to see you there for this inspiring and empowering event!
Melissa Cole – Luzerne County
My husband Mike and I were in the process of moving in with his parents. I was loading books into a crate and bruised my chest wall. When the pain didn’t go away after a while, my husband was checking the bruise and said “Do you know you have a lump in your breast?”
I was 38 years old and had done breast self-exam regularly but hadn’t found this lump. It was deeper than I could feel but the injury may have pushed it forward. I had chest X-rays done and the doctor said you need to have a mammogram.
I went to Geisinger Women’s Imaging Center and learned I have dense breast tissue. I had a lumpectomy, 33 radiation treatments and then went on anastrozole.
My family was very supportive. We were up front with our 12 year-old son Chase. He understood and was there to help me whenever I needed him. I teach toddlers at Little Meadows Learning Center and my co-workers brought us food and helped with gas money. To this day, my friends still check on me.
My friend Barb Bowman had been diagnosed with breast cancer before me and she encouraged me to go to the PBCC Conference. She said it would help me to learn how to move forward and live my life. That conference was amazing! The classes were great; I feel like I learned so much. The vendors were a big help too. I wasn’t sure at that time if I’d have to have a mastectomy and at the conference I was able to see and feel a prosthesis and know what it would be like if I had a mastectomy and didn’t have reconstruction.
Now I tell other women not to be afraid to go to the doctor if you find something. It’s important. It took cancer to settle me down but now I know my life is my life and I’m going to live it the way I need to. I’m living a happier life.
FAVORITE QUOTE: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
The Pink Daisy Project offers short-term assistance for women under the age of 45 who are within three months of breast cancer treatment or reconstruction. The organization provides gift cards for groceries, gas, and restaurants in order to offset the increased expenses in your budget during treatment. How can you apply?
As part of the application process, your oncologist must verify your age and date of diagnosis. To receive an application, send an email to email@example.com.
To learn more about the Pink Daisy Project, click here to visit the website.