Author Archive

Survivor Spotlight: Nelline Talton, Allegheny county

Posted By on February 11th, 2019 at 4:15 pm | 0 comments.

HOW AND WHEN WAS YOUR BREAST CANCER FOUND?

I had my baseline mammogram when I was 28 years old after learning that my great grandmother had breast cancer. At that time, they told me I had dense breasts and the mammogram was cloudy because of my age. In September 2005 at age 44 I went for annual screening mammogram and there was a suspicious area on the film. I had additional views done and an ultrasound guided biopsy, then an MRI stereotactic biopsy. It was concluded that I had a malignant tumor and that I needed a mastectomy.

I had chemo prior to the surgery due to the size of the tumor. I’ll never forget the date of my surgery: it was on Good Friday 2006. I had a double mastectomy with reconstruction.

WHERE DID YOU FIND YOUR BEST SUPPORT?

Most of the support I had was through my church family at the Deliverance Baptist Church in Wilkinsburg, and my sister. My sister actually spent one of her birthdays with me at my chemo treatment.

I want to share one very special thing. Right before my surgery the surgeon was running behind. One of the ministers from my church, who is the bishop’s daughter, sat and sang to me until they came to take me to surgery.

HOW DID YOU LEARN ABOUT THE PBCC?

I went to a breast cancer support group at the YWCA in Pittsburgh after my first chemo treatment. The coordinator Yvonne Durham shared lots of information and a gift bag. Two weeks after that meeting I received a PBCC Friends Like Me care package. It was close to Christmas when it arrived and I thought it was a Christmas gift. A little note inside said that Yvonne had requested it for me. I cried going through everything because it made me feel special to think that such a wonderful thing could come because of having this awful disease.

 

 

 

YOU’VE BEEN TO THE PBCC CONFERENCE IN OCTOBER. WHAT WAS THAT LIKE FOR YOU?

My first two conferences were in 2016 and 2017. This past year I really enjoyed the opening session presentation by Dr. Hudis. He shared so much information and he’s so humble! I love that he’s still working with patients. Without the PBCC, I would not be able to continue learning about breakthroughs with treatment, research, and clinical trials. I share as much of that as I can, and I know that you’re doing it all in an effort to save lives. I’m truly thankful for the PBCC. You’re a sounding board and lasting voice for me and for other survivors.

IS THERE SOMETHING YOU WANT OTHER WOMEN TO REMEMBER?

Be aware of any changes in your breasts and don’t be afraid to voice them to your doctor. Be vigilant about having mammograms. Schedule it and show up!

 

Is Transportation To Your Medical Treatments A Challenge?

Posted By on February 11th, 2019 at 11:05 am | 0 comments.

UberHealth or LyftForHealth may be able to help! Each of these popular ride companies are partnering with healthcare facilities to arrange transportation for patients and caregivers. The hospital books the ride in advance (or the day of the appointment) and the patient is notified by text when to expect the driver. If texting is not an option, the patient will receive a confirmation call from the hospital.

The passenger does not need an Uber or Lyft account; however, the hospital must be participating in the program. Check with your doctor or hospital to see if they might consider joining UberHealth or LyftForHealth, available anywhere that Uber and Lyft have services.

More details are at www.uberhealth.com and https://lyftbusiness.com/healthcare

2018 Conference Workshops Announced!

Posted By on July 26th, 2018 at 2:34 pm | 0 comments.

  Learn from leading medical and wellness professionals about topics that are important to your life!

Workshop topics to include:

  • New Advances in Treatment for Women with BRCA Mutations by Dr. Susan Domchek, University of Pennsylvania
  • Advances in Breast Cancer Research and Clinical Trials by Dr. Shannon Puhalla, NSABP and UPMC
  • What it is your Recurrence Score?: Why it Matters presented by Dr. Amy Clark, University of Pennsylvania
  • Screening Update: The New American College of Radiology Recommendations presented by Dr. Alison Chetlen, Penn State Health
  • Palliative Care and How it Relates to Breast Cancer presented by Hospice of Central PA
  • Breast Reconstruction: Advances and Options presented by Dr. Brynn Wolff, UPMC Pinnacle
  • Patient Resources 101: Free Mammograms and Services through the PA Department of Health’s HealthyWoman Program presented by Siri Ready, Diane Donahue, Kathy Makara; PA Department of Health
  • Navigating your Insurance: the Bra Benefit presented by Terri Scott and Jill Robbins, The Perfect Match Boutique
  • Food for Thought: Nutrition and Breast Cancer presented by Shanna Shultz, Giant Food Stores
  • Pink Ribbon Pilates presented by Allison Zang, Absolute Pilates
  • The Benefits of Exercise During and After Treatment presented by Dr. Karen Wonders,Wright State University

Sessions are current as of 8/3/18. Additional topics are still being added so check back to our website for updates, the full schedule and workshop descriptions!

 

Warren County Survivor: “Don’t Let Cancer Define You”

Posted By on July 16th, 2018 at 2:55 pm | 0 comments.


When and how was your breast cancer survivor diagnosed?

I teach at the Warren Area High School and always have a screening mammogram before the school year begins. After my August 2015 mammogram I was called back for a follow-up and diagnosed the following month with stage 4 breast cancer. It was breast cancer that had already metastasized to my lymph nodes and liver.

Tell us about hearing a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer.
I’m living with it and pray every day but I beat it and I try to keep on beating it. If there’s a recurrence, we’ll deal with it then. Right now I’m cancer free and hope it stays that way. I take an aromatase inhibitor daily but that’s all the treatment at this point. I’m progesterone and estrogen positive and Her-2 negative so I think that helps. I’m metastatic so that means I’m living with it.

I’m grateful for all the research that’s going on. I have a friend who passed away eleven years ago and I often think that if the research was as intense then as it is now she might still be alive.

Who supported you through your diagnosis and treatment?
Number one was my husband Ted. He’s been my rock with all I’ve been through. The whole family has been a strong support.  My daughter Megan and her husband Toby have a little daughter Avery who will be 16 months old. She was born when I was going through all this and was my real bright spot. Toby is in the Air Force stationed in Tampa. My son Hank is marrying his college sweetheart in September. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 2016 after college and played two years in the minor leagues. He’s a personal trainer now working with baseball players, doing what he loves. My sister Barbie and I went through Livestrong at the local YMCA and she was my support through that. And I have my parents who are 89 and 85 years old and going strong and living just five minutes away from me. Warren is very small so all my colleagues in the town were supportive. Above all else is my faith. It’s so important.

How did you come to know about the PA Breast Cancer Coalition?
A woman who taught at our high school is now working at the Warren Public Library. She reached out to me and told me about the traveling photo exhibit, and asked if I would like to speak at the exhibit’s opening reception there at the library. I hadn’t heard of the PBCC before but now I have learned so much about it from reading the website. I love that you’re funding research and creating awareness and making sure that there is always a way for a woman to get a mammogram. Everyone should be able to get a mammogram, to get treatment, and you should be able to go to the best places.

 How you might complete this sentence: “Without the PBCC, ______”
Without the PBCC, it seems that many women would not have the chance for early detection with a yearly mammogram.

What advice would you offer to someone whose friend or family member has been diagnosed with breast cancer?
Don’t allow cancer to define them. I’m a mother, wife, grandmother, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, fighter, and a survivor. I won’t let cancer define who I am.

 

 

Study: Women with Early-Stage Breast Cancer May Not Need Chemotherapy

Posted By on June 5th, 2018 at 9:36 am | 0 comments.

According to a recent study, thousands of women with early-stage breast cancer do not need chemotherapy as part of their treatment regimen. The results of the largest ever breast cancer treatment trial, the TAILORx study, were published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers say the trial found evidence that 70 percent of early-stage breast cancer patients will receive no benefit from chemotherapy. The article goes on to say those patients would effectively be treated with endocrine therapy alone. The data indicated that some women 50 and younger might benefit from chemo even if gene-test results suggested otherwise. It is not clear why.

“This is a game-changer. It’s truly groundbreaking. Now, thousands of women will not have to undergo toxic chemotherapy treatment with its unwanted side effects,” said PBCC President and Founder Pat Halpin-Murphy. “The results of this clinical trial will change the way oncologists treat breast cancer every day here in Pennsylvania and across the country.”

In order to conduct the TAILORx study, researchers examined results of the Genomic Health Oncotype DX test which provides a score for the patient’s risk of recurrence. The clinical trial found that, in patients who received a score of 11 to 25, chemotherapy was not necessary. Investigators conducted gene tests on tumor samples to identify women who could skip chemo and take drugs like tamoxifen that block estrogen or stop the body from producing estrogen (endocrine therapy). Drugs like tamoxifen have been proven to reduce the risk of recurrence in breast cancer survivors.

Today, 37 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Pennsylvania, and 140,000 PA women are currently living with the disease. Early-stage breast cancer makes up half of all breast cancer diagnoses.

CLICK HERE to read the complete New England Journal of Medicine article.

 

NEW Recommendations for Breast Cancer Screening

Posted By on May 11th, 2018 at 1:32 pm | 0 comments.

 

If you are considered at higher-than-average risk for breast cancer or you have dense breast tissue, the American College of Radiology (ACR) now recommends you get an annual screening MRI in addition to a mammogram. The new recommendations, published on DenseBreast-Info.org and in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, call for MRI if a woman is considered high risk.
The ACR continues its previous recommendations, supporting MRI beginning at age 25 for women with a BRCA1 mutation.

Women are considered high-risk if they:

  • Have dense breast tissue
  • Have a family history of breast cancer
  • Have been diagnosed with breast cancer by age 50

The American College of Radiology also recommends that all women, especially black women and those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, be evaluated for breast cancer risk no later than age 30 so that a “higher risk can be identified and [the woman] can benefit from supplemental screening.”

    

Join the PBCC Team!

Posted By on May 10th, 2018 at 12:51 pm | 0 comments.


Job Opening
Part-Time Administrative Assistant

 Organization Background

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition (PBCC) represents, supports and serves breast cancer survivors and their families in Pennsylvania through educational programming, legislative advocacy and breast cancer research grants. The PBCC is a statewide non-profit organization with a board of directors and a network of volunteers across the state. The PBCC exists to help the 9,500 women in this state who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, to support the families of the 2,200 women who will die from it and to serve as a resource for the hundreds of thousands more women currently living with the disease. 

Position Summary

The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is seeking a highly motivated, experienced, energetic professional with excellent communication skills to work part-time (24-30 hours per week) in the Lebanon, PA office. The Administrative Assistant will work with all PBCC staff members to help keep the office running smoothly. We are looking for an ambassador, a team player, someone who can work with different personality types and is outgoing. We need someone who’s friendly, organized, detail-oriented and is willing to help with projects as needed.

This person is responsible for performing a wide range of administrative and workplace tasks.   He/she will have the ability to organize and manage multiple projects simultaneously; problem-solve and trouble-shoot; interact well with all levels of staff, board and volunteers; and assist staff with both routine and special projects.

Key job responsibilities:

  • Answer the phone and transfer calls
  • Open the daily mail and mail/ship items as needed
  • Make hotel & travel arrangements for staff members
  • Write and send general letters/emails and thank you letters
  • Pack up materials and boxes as needed for events
  • Monitor weekly donor reports to help manage donor cultivation and recognition for individual donors
  • Provide admin support for all PBCC programs (for example but not limited to:)
    • Organize PBCC Conference Fundraising prospects and keep ongoing solicitation list for staff
    • Facilitate PBCC quarterly webinars through “Go-to-Meeting” platform, keep the RSVP list and send out CE certificates to attendees
    • Attend site visits, planning committee meetings and event opening receptions for the“67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania” Traveling Photo Exhibit
  • Travel, as needed, to provide assistance for programs and events off-site

Requirements/Qualifications

  • Bachelors or Associates degree
  • Highly organized with the ability to multi-task and work productively in a team setting
  • Willingness to travel and attend occasional evening and weekend events
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Comfort using Microsoft Office suite

Salary Range

This is a part-time position with the potential to go to full-time. This position has flexible hours and is for 24-30 hours per week. The pay is $14 an hour.

Please submit the following to Jobs@PABreastCancer.org with “Administrative Assistant” in the subject line.

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Salary requirements

No phone calls please.  The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Survivor Spotlight: Tori Wilt, Huntingdon County

Posted By on May 4th, 2018 at 3:10 pm | 0 comments.


Meet Tori Wilt, Huntingdon County

Tori was a 34-year-old single mom when she was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. While in treatment, she met her now-husband, got married and had their “miracle” baby. Tori is a fighter, thriver, and survivor. This is her amazing story.

Tell us about your breast cancer journey…

In January 2013, I felt a lump while adjusting my bra but cancer didn’t even occur to me at the time. That March, my Dad, who was a one-year prostate cancer survivor, sent me an email about breast cancer being on the rise. Within a week, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma.

“On May 22, we got married and I had my 20-week ultrasound. We went to the courthouse, got in the car, drove to Pittsburgh and had the ultrasound to make sure everything was OK… and it was. I said ‘OK, here we go.’”

I had six rounds of chemo, 11 rounds of Herceptin and had a bi-lateral mastectomy in August 2013, and then I met my now-husband. We didn’t think I could have children, but I got pregnant after the mastectomy, so I had to put the Herceptin treatment on hold. A few doctors suggested I shouldn’t go through with the pregnancy, that it was high risk. My daughter Finley was born in October 2014 and then I started Herceptin again.

Did you have a lot of support?

Tori with her husband Ryan, son Evan and daughter Finley

Yes! My parents and my co-workers were very supportive.

You came to the PBCC with a specific concern. What was it?

I started a Facebook group called Pink Sisters in Christ. And just from communicating with people on there, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one whose eyebrows never grew back after chemotherapy. Some mentioned losing eyelashes too. I draw them in every day but microblading is a very effective way to put them back on. The cost varies by area and can run anywhere between $300 and $400.

What do you hope to see happen?

My goal would be for there to be an option for women or men who choose to have this done to have at least a portion of the cost covered by insurance.

What do you want other women to know?

Cancer doesn’t discriminate. I never thought at 34 years old I’d feel a tumor. I do think there are some things we can do. My doctor advised me to leave my counseling career behind because it was too stressful. I now work for a company that manufactures nontoxic products, and I educate women about inflammation in the body caused by stress, processed foods, and even where you live in the country.

Do you have advice for someone whose friend or family member is diagnosed? 

Be respectful of the range of emotions they are going to go through. A lot of women tell me they are happy one minute and enraged the next. Be part of a supportive environment to accept those range of emotions. And remember that every journey is different. What’s important to one is not to another.