Survivor Spotlight: Dr. Susanne Gollin

Posted By on February 19th, 2020 at 3:20 pm | 0 comments.

How was your breast cancer found?

DR. GOLLIN: Eight years before my diagnosis I was a subject in a cancer genetic study. My mother and my two younger sisters had breast cancer, as well as my maternal great aunt and her daughter, and my father had died of lymphoma. That’s why I went into cancer genetics research. I met with a genetics counselor who suggested that my annual mammogram should be should be diagnostic rather than screening, and that I should have breast MRIs. The third annual MRI saved my life.

In February 2010 I had a mammogram and an MRI. The results of the mammogram were negative but my primary care doctor wanted me to have a biopsy. The doctor said, “I’m 95% confident that you have a small cancer. I’ll biopsy to confirm and then you’ll get it removed and go along your way to continue your exciting research.” She projected a “we can do this” attitude and it set the tone for the entire process.

What was your treatment?

DR. GOLLIN: I decided on a double mastectomy. I chose silicone implants rather than tissue reconstruction, for a variety of reasons, including that I had a genetic predisposition to blood clots. One clot could ruin the entire tissue reconstruction. The tumor was invasive and I concluded that the MRI saved my life, since the mammogram was negative for cancer. I recovered, went back to work in five weeks, and never looked back. I’m grateful for the genetic counselor who educated me about my family history and strategies for early detection.

What do you hope other women learn from you?

DR. GOLLIN: I hope they will meet with their family at reunions or holidays and talk about any history of cancer. They can draw a family tree showing who had cancer and what kind.

Also, women should try to have a friend with them at their appointments. When your doctor talks with you, the stress of the situation can lead to forgetfulness, or altered perception.

What was your support system like?

DR. GOLLIN: My sister came from Miami to keep my husband company during my five-hour surgery, and to keep me company over the next few days. My husband was a remarkable caregiver. It’s so much harder on the family members than it is on the patient. They need support too.

Facebook was a powerful source of support. I floated through the process as though I was a cake crumb being carried by a herd of ants. I envisioned friends in my neighborhood, my congregation, my support group, and my work support group carrying that crumb and it helped me. My philosophy is whatever works. Be positive.

What advice would you give to friends of a woman who was just diagnosed?

Just be there for her. Send her cookies or a little note saying “I’m thinking of you and wondering if I could bring you a bowl of soup.” Send an email saying “I’m on your team.”

Without the PA Breast Cancer Coalition ________.

DR. GOLLIN: Without the PBCC, women in PA wouldn’t have a strong voice for early detection and diagnosis, someone who holds their hands through the process.

My life-saving MRI was covered, but for many women in Pennsylvania, it’s not. I am grateful to the PBCC for fighting to pass Senate Bill 595 for breast MRI and ultrasound coverage to help women whose insurers do not cover them.

Need a Wig? Resource Available for Western PA Breast Cancer Survivors

Posted By on February 19th, 2020 at 2:58 pm | 0 comments.

Hair Peace Charities offers up to $200 to purchase wigs for women in the Western region of Pennsylvania. To qualify for financial assistance for a wig needed due to cancer treatment, call 412-327-5177 or click here to visit the Hair Peace Charities website. Hair Peace will determine eligibility and share information about participating salons.

Our Fight Moves Forward!

Posted By on December 11th, 2019 at 12:10 pm | 0 comments.

You did it! YOU made it happen.

Legislation requiring insurers to cover breast cancer screenings like ultrasound or MRI for women with high-risk factors, including dense breast tissue, now goes to the full Senate for a vote. The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee unanimously reported Sen. Bob Mensch’s Senate Bill 595 out of committee as amended. From here, the bill goes to the Senate floor.

Senate Bill 595 covers ultrasound or MRI screenings for women with extremely dense breasts and women with heterogeneously dense breasts who have one other high-risk factor. High-risk factors include personal history of breast cancer, family history, positive genetic testing results, among others. 45 out of 49 state senators co-sponsored the bill.

Click here to read Senate Bill 595


Breast Implants Linked to Rare Cancer Are Recalled Worldwide – The New York Times

Posted By on July 31st, 2019 at 9:44 am | 0 comments.

Meet the Awardee: 2019 Pink Ribbon

Posted By on July 11th, 2019 at 4:18 pm | 0 comments.

Robin Shine-Maddox, Pink Ribbon Awardee

This year, the PA Breast Cancer Coalition honors breast cancer survivor and advocate, Robin Shine-Maddox, with our Pink Ribbon Award. Founder and President of Celebrating Sisterhood and Chief Networking Officer of SHINE CONNECTIONS LLC., Robin has been a fearless leader and motivator in the fight against breast cancer in the Philadelphia area. Since being diagnosed at age 55, Robin, who also serves as Constituent Activity Liaison for State Senator Vincent Hughes, has been a voice of strength and survivorship within her community. In addition to her public work to raise breast cancer awareness, promote early detection practices and help other women find the resources they need, Robin’s message to survivors is one of solidarity, hope and faith.

Meet the Awardee: 2019 Potamkin Prize

Posted By on July 11th, 2019 at 4:13 pm | 0 comments.

Dr. Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, Potamkin Prize Winner

2019 Potamkin Prize Winner, Dr. Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, MD, FACP, is a longtime trailblazer in the field of breast cancer research and oncology. As Professor of Medicine in the Department of Breast Medical Oncology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Hortobagyi’s major area of focus is the biology and treatment of breast cancer and the development of new agents and management strategies for the disease. He  has guest edited numerous issues of Seminars in Oncology, Seminars if Breast Disease, Oncology, and The Cancer Bulletin. For over three decades, Hortobagyi has dedicated his life’s work to improving the lives of breast cancer patients. He has focused overcoming resistance to endocrine therapy by developing rational combinations of endocrine therapies with targeted therapies. His work has changed the standard of care in managing metastatic, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.groundbreaking research and ultimately, finding a cure.


Palliative Care: The Facts on this Specialty Supportive Service

Posted By on July 1st, 2019 at 11:06 am | 0 comments.



David R. Wenner, DO FAAFP

Chief Medical Officer, Hospice of Central PA


Palliative care is a medical specialty that focuses on relief of physical, emotional, physiological and spiritual symptoms related to chronic and/or serious illness. Often, symptoms such as pain, anxiety, insomnia, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, and appetite loss can significantly impact a patient’s quality of life. Palliative medicine specialists aim to reduce the burden of these symptoms by focusing on individualized treatment strategies, addressing the “Whole Patient” and not just the disease process.


Palliative care includes a specialized team of physicians, nurses, social workers, and chaplains. We work alongside the patient, family, and other medical providers as a team. Specialists in palliative care see patients in hospitals, in their offices, in long term care facilitates, as well as in their homes.

Palliative care is NOT the same as hospice care. Palliative care may be provided at any time during a person’s illness. Often, palliative care is offered to patients at the same time they are receiving potentially life prolonging or curative treatments. Receiving palliative care does not prevent the patient from pursuing other services, treatments, or procedures.

Another goal of palliative care is to help patients and families better understand their illness in order to assist with complex medical decision making. We strive for a patient’s values and goals to be heard and appreciated so that they can make the best decision possible for their care.

A referral to a Palliative Medicine physician does not mean your medical provider is “giving up hope.” Often, patients who receive palliative care early on in their disease process benefit from superior symptom management, greater emotional support, and overall improved quality of life.


Palliative ( pal-ee-uh-tiv)

Adj. intended to alleviate a problem. Synonyms: soothing, alleviating, calmative.



AARP’s CARE Act Provides Support to Caregivers

Posted By on June 28th, 2019 at 10:52 am | 0 comments.


More than 1.6 million Pennsylvanians care for older parents, spouses or other loved ones, helping them to live independently at home. These family caregivers have a huge responsibility, and PA now has a law that will make life a little bit easier for them.

The CARE (Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable) Act helps family caregivers when their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition home.

The CARE Act requires hospitals to:

  • Provide your loved one the opportunity to designate a family caregiver.
  • Inform you when your loved one is to be discharged to another facility or back home.
  • Give you an explanation and demonstration of the medical tasks you will need to perform at home.

“AARP is here in PA fighting for older Americans and their families said Joanne Grossi, PA State President AARP and Executive Vice President, PA Breast Cancer Coalition.  Because of the work of AARP, the CARE Act is now a reality for all Pennsylvanians. This crucial law gives essential information and support to caregivers, including families who are facing a breast cancer diagnosis and living with metastatic disease.  Caregiving is a big responsibility, and caregivers should have the important information that they need to safely care for their loved ones at home.”



AARP Pennsylvania led the fight in PA for the CARE Act. To see the full release please click here: