Archive for April, 2015

National Volunteer Week Spotlight: Diane Funston

Posted By on April 16th, 2015 at 9:03 am | 923 comments.

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is able to provide support and advocacy to breast cancer survivors, families, researchers, caregivers and medical professionals through the tremendous support of its volunteers.  We couldn’t do what we do without them!  April 12-18 is National Volunteer Week, so we asked some of our faithful volunteers here at the PBCC to share more about their experiences making a difference across the Commonwealth.  Thank you volunteers!!!

I got involved DIANE PIC April 2015with PBCC after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 1996. I attended my first PBCC conference in October 1998 and I was overwhelmed by the content of the conference, the volunteers, the PBCC staff so you can say I was hooked. I came home and contacted them to see how I could get involved with them.

My volunteer activities have included volunteering at the yearly conference, legislative advocacy events, health fairs, education fairs, grassroot partners events, past Board of Directors member,  Traveling Photo Exhibit committee member and others I’m sure I’m forgetting to mention.

I am a sponsor for the YMCA in Carlisle of a grassroots fundraising event which started in 2012 and was called “Get Your Pink On” fitness challenge to raise awareness for breast cancer. In 2014 this event was expanded to include the month of September and Prostate Cancer and is now called “Get Your Pink and Blue On Challenge.” Proceeds from this event are donated to the PA Breast Cancer Coalition and PA Prostate Cancer Coalition. Carlisle YMCA

The best benefits from my volunteering efforts are the impact on the community. I feel strongly volunteers are the glue that hold the community and the PBCC together. Volunteering allows me to connect with the community and increase awareness. Even helping out with the smallest task can make a real difference to the lives of people in need. Volunteering is a two-way street: It benefits me as much as the cause. Dedicating my time and talent as a volunteer helps me make new friends and connections with people I otherwise would never have if I did not volunteer.  It also strengthens my existing relationships by my commitment to the PBCC’s fulfilling and fun activities and the tie to not only the community but it also broadens and exposes me to people that need us most… the newly diagnosed, those not yet diagnosed and survivors.

I can’t pick just one favorite volunteer experience since they are all unique in their own way and they have made me a much stronger and richer person. My volunteer experiences are all fun, meaningful, interesting, energizing and ways for me to use my own personal experience and journey to hopefully touch the lives of women and men walking this same journey.

National Volunteer Week Spotlight: Michael Grabauskas

Posted By on April 15th, 2015 at 10:12 am | 916 comments.

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is able to provide support and advocacy to breast cancer survivors, families, researchers, caregivers and medical professionals through the tremendous support of its volunteers.  We couldn’t do what we do without them!  April 12-18 is National Volunteer Week, so we asked some of our faithful volunteers here at the PBCC to share more about their experiences making a difference across the Commonwealth.  Thank you volunteers!!!

Michael GI had met and become friends with Dolores Magro at a local coffee shop in Harrisburg. One Friday, after beginning her new job with a new non-profit (PA Breast Cancer Coalition), she came into the coffee shop and informed me that we would have to curtail our weekend plans because she had brought home a work project that would tie up her weekend. She told me she had to stuff hundreds, maybe even thousands, of envelopes with information about Mothers Day Mammograms (a new program) and it was going to take a lot of work. I had been working political campaigns since I was 15 and one thing I had down pat was stuffing and sorting envelopes!  We went to her house and in just about 2 hours we had it done!  I helped with anything else that came along. It lead to the conferences and I would even get supplies from vendors to either the office or Karen Byers depending where they were needed. Helped with fundraising calls. Typically now I am a “traffic cop” at the conference making sure everyone attending finds everything they need to so they enjoy their day. And I’m always available for anything!  Also, I got to watch the PBCC’s influence on my best friend Dolores Magro (Now PBCC Director of Patient Advocacy) and how it turned her into the best person I’ve ever known outside my family. She and all PBCCers are my family!
The best part of volunteering with PBCC is getting to see some of the most amazing women in our state coming together and taking control of theirs and others lives and health. Seeing so many women caring and nurturing publicly is the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. I’ve seen men in very powerful political and business positions being brought to tears and joy every year by witnessing the stories of empowerment. It has constantly given me power over anything I encountered in my life.

I’ve had so many wonderful experiences. But I think my most memorable would be related to the actual Conference luncheon. A participant each year asked for a very special lunch because it was keeping within their health regimen. My job was to find this person, find their table, check with the kitchen, inform the wait staff, and make sure she received her macro-biotic lunch. The first year was new for all the entities. But each year it became easier. For me I was fascinated as I had never heard of that diet. And it was fun to find one person out of the 1000+ who attended. But it all came together for me when several years later, I ran into the woman at a local grocery store. She wanted to thank me for making sure that her specific needs were met each year at the conference. There were many years she didn’t know if she would be well enough to even attend. But she knew that I would be there to make certain she had a good healthy meal. I’ve never forgotten her.

File your Taxes, Fight Breast Cancer: Penn Researcher Focused on HER2+ Breast Cancer Wins $50,000 PBCC Grant

Posted By on April 15th, 2015 at 8:39 am | 1846 comments.

patheadshotforplBy Pat Halpin-Murphy, President & Founder

You… yes, YOU can make a difference this time every year. I’m talking about the choices you make when filing your taxes. On Line 32, you can choose to donate your state income tax refund directly to breast cancer researchers in Pennsylvania who are working to find a cure. It’s part of the PBCC’s Refunds for Breast Cancer Research initiative.

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Xianxin Hua, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute working on treatments for HER2+ breast cancer. The PBCC awarded Dr. Hua with a $50,000 grant to build progress and advancements in the lab. Dr. Hua is one of three grant winners this year. Drs. Alessandro Fatatis and Mauricio Reginato of the Drexel University College of Medicine also received Refunds for Research funding.

Maybe you already have made a difference this tax season. If you have, on behalf of the thousands of women and families touched by breast cancer, I thank you. You are providing hope and much-needed support for the brilliant minds at work in laboratories across the state!


YOU can make a real difference this tax season. Donate your state income tax refund to breast cancer research by choosing “Option A” on Line 32. Help us continue our fight against breast cancer! For more information on the PBCC’s Refunds for Research program, visit

Erie Survivor Moved to Make a Difference Through Love of Music

Posted By on April 15th, 2015 at 8:38 am | 1819 comments.


Elisa Guida, Erie County

I’m very independent and didn’t want any help the first time I was diagnosed with breast cancer 20 years ago. I learned that was really not the way to go and the second time, 10 years ago, I welcomed help from my friends. I had started having mammograms at the age of 35 because I had cystic fibroid breasts and thought I’d never be able to find a lump myself. At 40 a mammogram detected a cluster of micro calcifications.

The first time I had stage 0, had a lumpectomy and lymph node removal. The cancer was back six years later but it went undiagnosed because I had a stereotactic biopsy at 1:00 o’clock but the cancer was at the 12:00 o’clock point. When I got the right diagnosis at year 10, I had two different kinds of cancer. I had DCIS stage 1 and I also had a tubular cancer which is quite rare.

I knew if my cancer came back, that I would have to have a mastectomy.  After doing research about reconstructing a radiated breast area, I was 99 % sure that I was NOT going to have reconstruction, but I met with the plastic surgeon anyway. There was no advantage to having reconstruction at the time of surgery vs. years later, if I would choose to do that. I also visited a prosthetics provider so that I could see and feel prosthesis.  After all of that I decided NOT to have reconstruction and never looked back and that was 10 years ago.

The mastectomy was easier for me than the lumpectomy had been. I had the mastectomy on Monday, was home on Tuesday, and out grocery shopping on Friday.

I am a custom jeweler and have a love of music and was at one point commissioned to create a guitar string bracelet. Then in 2008 my husband and I went to a Bon Jovi concert and I had the inspiration to get famous artists to give me their guitar strings. I created the nonprofit StringsforaCURE® in 2010. The jewelry made from those strings is what got everyone interested in the charity’s programs and fundraisers. And Jon Bon Jovi is among the many artists who have donated strings. Over 900 pieces have been made and are being worn all over the world.

Baseball is BACK: Take a Swing Against Breast Cancer with the PBCC this June!

Posted By on April 15th, 2015 at 8:34 am | 1871 comments.

Derby for April PLSwing batter, batter swing… for the fences! We hope you will join us this June at the PBCC’s Take a Swing Against Breast Cancer home run derby in Harrisburg and Lancaster.  Bring your family, friends and biggest fans to the stadium and help us find a cure for breast cancer now… so our daughters won’t have to.  Have what it takes?  Want to bat or volunteer?

At a home run derby, individual batters or teams of batters take swings in a professional ballpark of their choice.  We have 2 registration levels this year:
$30 – Silver Slugger
– each Silver Slugger receives 10 swings and an official 2015 derby swag bag

$125 – All Star
– each All Star batter receives 15 swings, an official 2015 derby swag bag and jersey

Each swing is scored based on where the ball lands on the field (or 100 points if it’s outta here!). Prizes go to batters with the highest average and to our highest fundraisers at each stadium.  We’re also looking for volunteers!

Harrisburg registration button  Lancaster registration button

Better hit the batting cages.  We want to see YOU at the plate this June as we Take a Swing Against Breast Cancer!

The Cold Cap: Keeping your Hair During Chemo

Posted By on April 15th, 2015 at 8:28 am | 1816 comments.

chemo-cap-associated-press-for-plWhen it comes to the side effects of breast cancer treatment, many women fear losing their hair the most. A popular new process could stop that from happening. Cancer patients are opting for the chemo “cold cap.” What is it? It’s a cap you wear during treatment and a few hours after that freezes the scalp and stops hair from falling out.

A study at the University of California, San Francisco monitored 100 women who received chemotherapy and used a cooling cap.  Results have not been published, but studies did show that a majority of the women kept most of their hair.  How does it work? The cold cap reduces chemotherapy-induced alopecia (hair loss) by cooling the hair capillaries and reducing the metabolic rate of the hair follicles to a hibernated state, preventing the absorption of chemotherapeutic drugs into the hair bulbs of the scalp.

The process can be costly, averaging around $600 per month for rental of the caps.  Most insurers do not cover the cost, but there have been cases where cooling caps are covered in lieu of wig costs.

To read the complete New York Times article on chemo cooling caps, click here.

Join the conversation! Is anyone using the cold cap? WOULD you use one?  Follow the PBCC on Facebook and Twitter and let us know!

5,000 Miles. One Goal: Fight Breast Cancer

Posted By on April 15th, 2015 at 8:28 am | 1619 comments.

One-lap-of-america-for-plLancaster County Corvette Club members Jim Roberts and Shane Lintner wanted to combine their love of racing with a greater calling to help breast cancer survivors and their families. Through their participation in the 2015 One Lap of America, they are able to leverage support for the PBCC by traveling 5,000 miles for our cause! How?

“The lives of many of our friends have been touched by cancer, especially breast cancer,” said Roberts. “This is a tangible way others can support the cause, by having their name or the name of a loved one come along on this journey with us.”

The Brock Yates’ One Lap of America is an endurance race that challenges the preparation and endurance of both man and machine. It is an offshoot of the original “Cannonball Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash” created in the early 1970’s. Today, all the competition takes place on the tracks, and when all is said and done, the duo will have traveled nearly 5,000 miles in eight days, working their way out as far west as Colorado in Jim’s Yellow 2000 Corvette Coupe! Stickers that will decorate the roof and body of the Corvette can be purchased for a minimum donation of $10. They will list the donor name, or you can purchase one in honor or memory of a loved one. To make a donation, simply visit and fill in “One Lap of America” when prompted for the Title of Event.

StringsforaCure® Strikes a Chord with Breast Cancer Survivors

Posted By on April 15th, 2015 at 8:28 am | 1844 comments.

smLogo2014StringsforaCURE® is a nonprofit organization based in Erie PA (founded by this month’s survivor Elisa Guida!) offering education, comfort and financial assistance, including $100 gas, grocery, and pharmacy gift cards for breast cancer patients. Patients anywhere nationwide may apply for the gift cards. Eligibility requirements include a diagnosis or recurrence within the past year, and you must be in active treatment. First time applicants must submit a signed letter from the treating physician and a schedule from the treatment facility. Want to apply?  Click here for application information.

The medical grant program through StringsforaCURE® is a one-time grant paid directly to the health care provider or pharmacy. Applicants must live within a 60-mile radius of Erie PA and the funds will cover co-pays or doctor visits, lymphedema garments and supplies, prescriptions, and medically necessary supplies prescribed by a doctor. To apply for a grant, click here.