Posts Tagged ‘diagnosis’

Update on Breast Density Screening Legislation

Posted By on August 16th, 2012 at 9:58 am | 32 comments.

Senator Bob Mensch from Montgomery County introduced legislation regarding breast density screening and insurance coverage for MRI screening.  No committee meeting has yet been scheduled to consider the bill. Can you help by contacting your state senator and asking him or her to help bring the bill up for a hearing before the end of the legislative session? Click here to find your state senator’s contact information.

The first of the two bills would require certified FDA facilities to provide patients with information related to their breast density and post a notice advising women with dense breast tissue that they may benefit from supplemental screening such as a breast MRI. The second bill would amend existing law to extend mandated insurance coverage to ultrasound and MRI screening if a mammogram shows dense breast tissue.

“Mammogram films of breasts with higher density are harder to read and interpret than those of less dense breasts,” said Senator Mensch. “Breast density is one of the strongest predictors of the failure of mammography screening to detect cancer, with a mammogram missing at least 40% of tumors in women with the densest breasts.”

Senator Mensch’s staff member Terry Gillen said, Kudos to the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition for raising this important issue.  As a breast cancer survivor, I know that we need to provide women with more information and more options regarding dense breast tissue diagnosis.

Spring 2012 edition of FrontLine

Posted By on March 28th, 2012 at 11:56 am | 46 comments.

By now, if you’re on our mailing list, you should have received the latest edition of FrontLine. The PBCC sends out this print newsletter every quarter to let you know what we’re up to across the state and how YOU can get involved!

Take a read through our online edition and share it with your friends!

We Take Our Mission Seriously

Posted By on February 7th, 2012 at 2:54 pm | 17 comments.


It’s the PA Breast Cancer Coalition’s mission to give breast cancer survivors a voice within our Commonwealth. We believe we are that voice in the medical, legislative, insurance and corporate communities.

Since 1993, we have dedicated ourselves to finding a cure for breast cancer. Our many acclaimed statewide outreach efforts, along with our grassroots partners raise thousands of dollars for research each year. The money raised goes to people like Dr. Craig Meyers, a researcher at the Penn State College of Medicine. Dr. Meyers recently discovered a nondisease-causing virus that successfully kills breast cancer cells in the laboratory. With the help of our outreach efforts and grassroots partners we can give him the funding he needs to one day conduct human trials that will hopefully lead to a cure to breast cancer.

We believe that anyone can help make a difference in the lives of those fighting breast cancer and their families. It’s the creativity and talents of people like you that can truly make a difference. We know that the only way to end breast cancer is to find a cure and believe with your help we can do so.

My battle with breast cancer ignites my resolve to make certain that our generation is the last to ever fear breast cancer. As a mother and grandmother, I thank you for joining the PBCC’s efforts to find a cure now… so our daughters and granddaughters won’t have to.

Survivor Spotlight: Karen Byers, Cumberland County

Posted By on October 19th, 2011 at 9:17 am | 41 comments.

When I was diagnosed 22 years ago, things were quite different. Sometimes I feel like I had breast cancer in the dark ages. And in many ways, I did. There was very little information. This was pre-internet. The library had books on the subject but they were medical journals that I couldn’t understand. Now I see women who come through our support group and I’m amazed at how informed they are because of the internet. In 1989 there weren’t even articles in women’s magazines. Now hardly a month goes by without features about new studies.

I became involved with the PBCC at its very beginning. Four years after my diagnosis I was invited to a meeting about a new organization that was just starting up. That was a good year, 1993. The PBCC was created and so was the ABC’S (All Breast Cancer Survivors) support group in Carlisle, and I’m still very involved with both groups. The PBCC gave me the wings I needed to fly and to do more than I had done before. I was able to speak to groups, become involved in advocacy, and to be a helping hand to newly diagnosed women. That’s when I really blossomed.

People ask me why I’m still involved with support group after so many years. It’s my way of showing appreciation for what was offered to me. With a diagnosis of any kind, you can crawl in a corner and have a lifetime pity party. I opted not to do that. My kids were 14 and 20 years old so I could talk with them and share whatever the doctor told me. My heart breaks for moms whose small children only know that mommy is sick. I knew everyone around me would respond to whatever way I accepted the diagnosis. My theory is when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I made a lot of lemonade.

I discovered a lump in August 1988 and had a mammogram right away. It seemed to be nothing more than just a thickening. I was scheduled to see my doctor again in January and that suited me just fine. After all, my husband Ralph coached soccer and my son Mark played. So I wanted to get through soccer season, Thanksgiving and Christmas first. But before Christmas my breasts became engorged and the nipple inverted. I knew I had a problem. A biopsy confirmed that the milk ducts had filled with a malignancy.

I had a modified radical mastectomy at the age of 44. I had positive nodes and underwent six months of chemotherapy, 12 treatments twice a month. I was fortunate to have a surgeon who was informative and a hand-holder, a very understanding and compassionate person.

I learn something from the incredible group of women in the ABC’S every time we get together. I learn from their drive, and from how they fight to make things better for those who will follow. I’ve also been awed by the dear friends we’ve lost from our group and how courageous they were. They taught us to be brave and to look at life as a gift and to continue to care about others.

I want other women to know that they are not alone, especially in Pennsylvania. First of all, you have the PBCC. And you have free treatment for breast cancer. We are very blessed in this state. Having breast cancer is like joining a club… a group that you never really want to join, but once diagnosed you are grateful for the women who take your hand and walk you through it. They are your friends for life.

Karen Byers has been a PBCC volunteer since 1993. She coordinates the registration booth at the conference with the ABC’S, and represents Cumberland County in our traveling photo exhibit. Karen was a past recipient of the Shining Light Award at the PBCC Conference. She loves spending time with the lights of her life, her grandchildren. 

Legislative Update: Senator Mensch Sponsors Bills on Breast Density Screening

Posted By on October 19th, 2011 at 9:16 am | 48 comments.

The PBCC has been working with PA State Senator Bob Mensch (Montgomery County) in his efforts to address the issue of breast density in breast cancer screening through two bills to be introduced this session. The first would require mammography facilities to provide their patients with pertinent information regarding breast density in the form of a notice.  The second bill would require insurers to cover ultrasound screening and magnetic resonance imaging if a mammogram reveals dense breast tissue. Co-sponsors are needed to support this legislation, so contact your State Senator in Harrisburg today.

PBCC President & Founder Pat Halpin-Murphy said, “This legislation is an important step in making certain that women with dense breast tissue are not overlooked when it comes to breast cancer screening. The PBCC thanks Senator Mensch for introducing this legislation and we pledge our support to making sure these bills become law here in Pennsylvania.”

To view Senator Mensch’s co-sponsorship memo, click here. The deadline has been extended until the end of October, so there is still time for Senators to sign-on as a co-sponsor. Encourage your State Senator to call Senator Mensch’s office to co-sponsor this legislation. 

Survivor Spotlight – Nicole Shaffer – Lititz, PA

Posted By on July 15th, 2011 at 8:55 am | 1 comment.

Nicole with husband Dave and their children Blair, Brandon, and Brady.

Nicole Shaffer was familiar with the PBCC years before her breast cancer diagnosis. Nicole, an occupational health nurse practitioner at Johnson & Johnson in Lititz,  participated in the annual Freshburst Race to benefit the PBCC in 2007. In December 2008 at the age of 35, Nicole found a lump in her breast.

A mammogram and an ultrasound both came back negative, but she wasn’t satisfied. That lump bothered her and she followed up with a surgeon and had an MRI. The surgeon confirmed that she had DCIS and Nicole had a bi-lateral mastectomy.

She has expanded her commitment to the PBCC, representing Lancaster County in our traveling photo exhibit, and co-presenting the workshop “Young Survivorship: Finding Your New Normal” at the 2010 PBCC Annual Conference.

Nicole believes that her purpose in life is to help other women. She was always a compassionate nurse but now where cancer is involved she finds herself reaching out even more. She never misses an opportunity to remind a woman to listen to her own body. Those initial tests Nicole had were read as negative but she knew something was wrong.

Nicole is now director of occupational health and wellness for North America with Pfizer. She and her husband Dave have three boys ages 9, 7 and 5. She loves to cook, spend time with her family hiking, biking and just being outside.

Request for Applications for Refunds for Research Grants

Posted By on July 15th, 2011 at 8:53 am | 0 comments.

Are you a breast or cervical cancer researcher in PA looking for additional funds? Dr. Marius Sudol, shown left,  is a past recipient of a PBCC Refunds for Breast &?Cervical Cancer Research grant – and you could be next! $50,000 competitive grants are now available to PA researchers who apply. Thanks to Pennsylvania taxpayers generously donating their state tax refunds, over $2.8 million has been raised and every penny is given out in grants to cutting edge researchers.

Please visit PBCC.me/RFA for the full Request for Application and budget forms. Letters of intent are due to the PBCC by July 29th, and full proposals are due August 30th. The grant period is January 1, 2012 to December 30, 2012.

We encourage all breast and cervical cancer researchers to apply. Help spread the word to your personal and professional network about this opportunity. Please contact PBCC Program Director, Jennifer Pensinger at jennifer@pabreastcancer.org if you have any questions.

Photo Exhibit Opening Tonight in Huntingdon, PA

Posted By on May 12th, 2011 at 8:14 am | 0 comments.

York County Photo Exhibit OpeningThe PA Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) is pleased to work with the Huntingdon County Exhibit Committee and J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital to bring its traveling photo exhibit 67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania, to Huntingdon County from May 12th through May 22nd.  The photo exhibit will be displayed in the Main Lobby of the J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital located at 1225 Warm Springs Avenue in Huntingdon.

An opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, May 12th at 5 p.m. The exhibit and reception are free and open to the public. The pink van and PBCC staff will be on hand to kick-off the 110th showing of the photo exhibit. This will be our first visit to Huntingdon County!

This work of art features women from each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties, along with a message about how breast cancer has touched their lives.  The women reflect the diversity of Pennsylvania, and their stories reflect the impact of breast cancer on themselves, their families and their communities.  The exhibit encourages women to learn about early detection and celebrates life, courage, hope and dignity of women and families who have battled breast cancer.  67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania is sponsored by the PBCC and funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Pat Halpin-Murphy, President and Founder of the PBCC, encourages everyone to visit the exhibit.  “Breast cancer is not a rare event separate from the fabrics of our everyday lives.  It impacts our mothers, daughters and friends.  We must educate ourselves about this disease and fight to find a cure now…so our daughters won’t have to.”

“The Alliance for Breast Care (ABC) at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital is honored to host the 67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania exhibit,” said Dr. Maria Pettinger, Medical Director of Radiology at J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital. “This opportunity is limited to a few locations in the Commonwealth each year. We want to encourage not only the residents of Huntingdon County to take advantage of this inspirational exhibit, but also the people from the surrounding counties to experience the strength and courage of those who have faced breast cancer.”