The bond between five sisters can be unbreakable, especially when tragedy strikes. In 1990, Tyanna Barre O’Brien, 48, lost her courageous battle with breast cancer – and five girls lost their mother.
Several years later, when each was living on her own, Anne, Bridget, Megan, Sara and Kate O’Brien decided to establish a fund to honor their mother’s life, love and living legacy. In 1999, The Tyanna Foundation was founded and its signature event, BreastFest, was launched.
Since its inception in Athens, Georgia, The Tyanna Foundation has operated solely by the generous support of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to increase awareness of breast cancer and generate funds to support breast cancer research, services, education, treatment and patient care for local breast cancer patients and survivors.
By expanding its reach into four states (Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania), BreastFest has raised over one million dollars to help local organizations treat and care for breast cancer patients. All of the funds raised in each city benefit a local breast center or breast health organization.
All proceeds for the Philadelphia chapter of The Tyanna Foundation are donated to the Breast Center at Fox Chase Cancer Center. In its first year in Philadelphia, The Tyanna Foundation and BreastFest raised over $13,000 for Fox Chase, which was dedicated to research and a survivors series.
Join Tyanna’s Daughters on September 17 in Philadelphia
After a very successful launch into the Philadelphia area in 2010, the second annual BreastFest Philly has been scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2011, at Mad River Bar & Grille in Philadelphia’s Manayunk neighborhood located at 4100 Main Street, Philadelphia.
Beginning at 3:00pm, guests will enjoy live music performed by Loverbuggy, Alice’s Garage, Northern Rednecks, Sara O’Brien and Stellar Mojo. There will be plenty of food, drinks, raffles and silent auction items. The event ends at 8:00pm.
Tickets are $40 in advance, $50 at the door and all proceeds benefit breast cancer research, treatment and prevention programs at Fox Chase. For more information, or to purchase your tickets, visit www.breastfest.org or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pre-Party Event on August 25
If you happen to be in Philadelphia on August 25 instead of the Jersey Shore, you’re in luck! The Tyanna Foundation is “Painting Manayunk Pink!” The gang will gather at Mad River – check their Facebook page for details.
I wish the O’Brien sisters all the best with their terrific event. For more information on other events held to benefit Fox Chase Cancer Center, visit our online calendar – and join us on Facebook! If you are inspired to plan your own fundraiser, let us know. We have staff to help get you started. Contact Jamie Roche in the Institutional Advancement Department at 215-728-2531.
As always, thanks for your support.
Be well, Bob
Cheryl Herman has a positive attitude for life. This was especially evident when she established a special fund at Fox Chase Cancer Center in tribute to her beloved sister, Eileen Stein Jacoby.
In 1996, at the age of 42, Eileen had a routine mammogram. Her doctor detected a pea-sized mass of cells that would later turn out to be breast cancer – ductal carcinoma. After a three-year struggle with the disease, this mother, sister, daughter, wife and friend passed away.
A year after Eileen’s passing, Cheryl and her family decided to turn a very negative event in their lives into something positive. Cheryl threw her energies into developing The Eileen Stein Jacoby Fund as a lasting tribute to her sister’s life.
With tremendous support from her husband Scott, her children, Justin and Jillian, her parents Harold and Pauline Stein, her brother and sister in-law, Mitch and Julie Stein, and niece and nephew Alison and Evan Epstein, The Eileen Stein Jacoby Fund at Fox Chase Cancer Center was established in 2000.
Small but mighty, The Eileen Stein Jacoby Fund has achieved a tremendous amount during its first decade.The fund supports a talented research team and its fundraising efforts have had a tremendous impact on their work. The fund initially supported the laboratory of molecular biologist and geneticist, Andrew Godwin, PhD (who has since left the institution). The fund sponsored Dr. Xiaowei Chen (pictured at podium above) when he first joined Dr. Godwin’s laboratory in 2002. Dr. Chen’s studies examine the hereditary and non-hereditary factors that influence an individual’’s risk of developing breast cancer and theirs response to therapy.
The Eileen Stein Jacoby Fund is run completely by volunteers. Every penny that they have raised over the years has gone solely toward cancer research.
The many fundraising activities organized by Cheryl and her army of committee members and volunteers have included an annual bowling benefit, golf outing, shopping sprees and special events at various businesses, holiday gift-wrapping at a local mall, sporting event trips, breast cancer apparel sales, trips to Broadway shows, breast cancer awareness events for students, charity concerts, square dances and more!
Cheryl and Scott’s daughter, Jillian, is the student volunteer coordinator for the fund and was recently honored with a philanthropy award at her high school. Their son, Justin, is enrolled in medical school in Philadelphia.
Lymphedema – the swelling of an extremity caused by the accumulation of intercellular fluid – is a condition that affects nearly 400,000 U.S. women. In a previous blog, I invited Wilma Morgan OTR/L, CLT-LANA, the Lymphedema Specialist in Fox Chase’s Rehabilitation Department, to address some common questions surrounding the condition. Today, I have invited Wilma back to introduce a new measurement tool soon to be introduced at Fox Chase called a perometer that can make a significant difference in the quality of life for our patients who struggle with lymphedema and can also help prevent onset of the condition.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Board of Associates for their generous support of this new tool that will improve the lives of our patients.
Be Well, Bob
Since I began at Fox Chase 11 years ago, my team has been passionate about finding ways to make the lives of our patients more comfortable. Each day, I treat five to six patients living with chronic lymphedema, and we often see each other two to three times a week, working diligently to manage the effects of the swelling. I move through a standard series of four steps: manually massaging the lymphs to remove fluid, teaching exercises that can be done at home to ease discomfort, providing skin care to prevent infection, and placing a compression garment to reduce the size of the swollen limb.
Improving the lives of our lymphedema patients
But when our new perometer arrived just a few weeks ago, I knew it would change the way we manage lymphedema for the better. A perometer is a computerized, digital scanner that measures the size and volume of a patient’s limbs. This one piece of technology significantly enhances our patients’ experience through improved consistency and speed. In just 10 seconds, I can get a clear picture of the lymphedema’s progress and track specific areas where swelling is most severe. Measurements that previously took up to 15 minutes manually, now only take 1-2 minutes, leaving more time for other aspects of therapy.
Not only is the perometer a great tool in therapy, but also in research and prevention. Fox Chase strives to find the most effective methods for treating and managing cancers, and we intend to use the perometer to proactively work to prevent lymphedema.
According to a large study from the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., if lymphedema is diagnosed at only 3 percent progression, immediate treatment can reverse the process. I hope to be able to work with the physicians to take benchmark limb scans with the perometer on all patients undergoing a node dissection before they enter the operating room. We can then more easily track any changes in limb size after surgery to prevent the development of lymphedema.
I anticipate using the perometer with all my patients in the near future, as Fox Chase offers this new tool to improve the quality of life for patients. I cannot wait to see the positive outcomes.
If you have any questions about lymphedema or the perometer, I encourage you to post them here or ask me at your next therapy session. Our staff members will be happy to answer them.
Have you used the new perometer? If so, let us know what you thought of it!
Tony and Kitch Mussari are retired college teachers. Kitch was one of the first female broadcast journalists in Pennsylvania, while Tony has been producing documentary films for close to 40 years. Since September 11, 2001, they have produced more than 30 programs in the “What Is America” series, which focuses on the people, places and events related to this tragic day.
In 2009, while observing a failing economy, a war and record unemployment, the Mussaris wanted to focus on positive examples of America on its best day. The “Face of America” project is a 10th anniversary commemorative project honoring all those who lost their lives on 9/11, and in the subsequent wars. They have clocked 30,000 miles, snapped 60,000 photos, recorded video in 260 cities and are on the verge of completing a book.
When Kitch and Tony started their tour in January 2010, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma was the furthest thing from their minds. Today, it is the center of their universe. They feel that their visit to Fox Chase gave them peace of mind, excellent advice and compassionate care. In their words, “The people we met at Fox Chase are impressive examples of America at its very best.” I wanted to share one of Tony’s recent blog posts that illustrates their experience.
Be well, Bob
Our Face of America Journey to the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia
“Always expect the unexpected.” James Patterson
With all due respect to “the man who transformed book publishing,” James Patterson, some things in life are unexpected and unwanted. They come without warning. They test your strength. They sap your energy, and they turn your life upside down.
That’s exactly what happened to Kitch and me on December 9, 2010, when Kitch was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Since that day, virtually all of our time and energy has been focused on a six letter word that no one wants to hear, and everyone wants to avoid.
According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women other than skin cancer. In 2010, Kitch was one of the 207,090 women diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s the bad news. The American Cancer Society estimates there are 2.5 million breast cancer survivors living in America. That’s the good news.
Our goal is to make sure that Kitch will become a member of that group. We have been blessed with excellent advice and care from Dr. Dan Kopen and his team of nurses and assistants. A recent visit with Dr. David Greenwald and members of his staff reassured us that improved methods of chemotherapy will give Kitch a higher probability of beating this cancer and avoiding the probability that other cancers might develop. Both doctors encouraged us to seek a second opinion, and we are very thankful they did.
On Wednesday, February 9, we packed our Toyota Prius with a folder of CD’s containing all of the data from several medical tests and the glass slides containing the pathology of tissue samples taken during her biopsy and operation, and we drove to Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.
From our first contact with the attendant in the parking garage to our parting farewell to a young woman named Michelle, every experience at Fox Chase was positive, welcoming, comforting, helpful and reassuring.
Cancer patients and their caregivers are filled with anxiety and fear. There are so many unknowns and so many worries. It’s not only the disease itself; it’s the disruption it causes in one’s life, the loss of privacy, the worry about the cost of care and the uncertainty about the future. At Fox Chase, everyone you meet is sensitive to these issues and much more. To them you are not a client. You are a patient who needs help. You are not being treated by a provider. You are visiting with and talking to a medical doctor who cares about you and the problems you are facing.
In all things big and small, Fox Chase is an example of patient care at its best. When you enter the facility, you are greeted by a personable and thoughtful attendant who helps you register. The young woman who worked with us was named Michelle. She was flexible and very accommodating. She made registration a pleasant and human experience, not an exercise in robotics. When I made a mistake, she was understanding. She did not embarrass or scold me.
When we reached the registration desk adjacent to the waiting room, we were greeted again by a person, not a blaring television set or loud music. At Fox Chase, there is no television set. In its place there are people who talk with you and help you. When I explained that I was writing an article about our experience, Nurse Navigator, Jessie Schol was more than willing to have her picture taken with Kitch.
Once inside the examining room, Kitch was greeted by a wonderful nurse, Jacqui Kelly, who explained the procedure and then she gave her a surgical robe that was freshly ironed.
Dr. Saad Khan, a fellow in medical oncology, visited with us for almost 45 minutes. He began our conversation with these words, “Good afternoon, I am Dr. Kahn. Let me see how I can help you.” That set the tone for a very productive conversation about probabilities and possibilities. It helped us to put things into perspective. Dr. Khan has been working in medical oncology for 18 months. He made a very favorable impression, because he made a human connection with us.
When Dr. Lori Goldstein entered the room, she greeted us with a smile and a handshake that radiated concern, compassion and competence. Dr. Goldstein was invited to become a member of the Fox Chase team 20 years ago. She is a woman of dignity, class and grace. We did not know that she was recently selected as one of Philadelphia’s top doctors, and she gave us no indication that she was anything but a very competent doctor concerned about Kitch’s welfare.
Dr. Goldstein spoke a language that we understood, because she has a gift for translating complex medical data into sentences her patients understand. During her conversation with us she made us feel comfortable with news we did not want to hear by reassuring us that the chemotherapy treatment Kitch needs is something she will be able to tolerate both physically and psychologically.
While we were with Dr. Goldstein, both Dr. Kahn and nurse Kelly were in the room. All three were focused on Kitch and her needs, and all three acted with kindness and respect. They were not rushed, they were not imperious. They were generous with their time and willing to answer any and all questions.
Obviously most of the moments were serious, but believe it or not, there were moments of humor and laughter.
For a cancer patient and a caregiver, there are no perfect scenarios, there are no perfect moments, but in my mind’s eye our experience at Fox Chase with Dr. Lori Goldstein and her colleagues was about as close to perfection as one can get.
What made it that way is a very simple, but often neglected element. Fox Chase is dedicated to scientific research in its effort to prevail over cancer, but it has not lost sight of the importance of the human connection. Battling cancer demands an effort of the heart as well as the mind. Everything we experienced during our visit provided the scientific answers to our questions, and the encouragement we needed to move forward. Our Fox Chase experience was a perfect blend of the heart and the mind.
When we arrived at Fox Chase we had great expectations and many apprehensions. When we left we had a better understanding of our situation, and a sense of confidence that we could meet the challenges of the next six months with confidence, hope and optimism.
To put it another way, the psychology and the physiology are now aligned, and we are ready to take the next step in our battle with cancer. We are prepared to experience the unexpected.
Thank you Dr. Lori Goldstein, Dr. Saad Khan, Jacqui Kelly, RN, Jessie Schol, RN, receptionist Pat and Michelle. Thank you Dr. Dan Kopen, and Dr. David Greenwald.
You are the “Face of America” on its best day and we are blessed to know you.
Tony & Kitch Mussari, Producers
The Face of America Project
In August, we briefly introduced you to our Navigation Program launched in the Women’s Cancer Center. Our Administrative Director Bonnie Miller, RN, BSN, OCN, has been instrumental in piloting the nurse navigators, and she has done a tremendous job of addressing patient needs to continuously improve the program. For those of you who have worked with one of Fox Chase’s three nurse navigators (Jessie Schol or Christin Kramer in the Women’s Cancer Center for breast and gynecologic cancers and Joanne Stein in the main annex for head and neck cancer), you know that they provide much more than simply booking your appointments.
When women come to the center after receiving abnormal test results or a new diagnosis, they usually have a lot of questions. It is critical to connect these patients with someone on the clinical team as soon as possible, and the navigators are the first step. Instead of waiting until the day of the appointment, nurse navigators begin educating patients on the same day as the patient’s first phone call to Fox Chase.
Since April 2010, the nurse navigators in the Women’s Cancer Center have helped over 1,300 patients through their course of treatment in our Breast and Gynecologic Oncology Program, and over 300 patients in our Head and Neck Program. This high level of attention has increased patient satisfaction and decreased patient anxiety. Whether you’re new to Fox Chase or have known us for years, we always aim to make your experience as smooth and comfortable as possible. In this blog, I invited Jessie Schol, one of our breast cancer navigators, and Joanne Stein, our head and neck nurse navigator, introduce themselves so that you can hear how they came to this career path and what they love most about it.
Jessie Schol, RN, BSN, OCN – Breast Cancer Nurse Navigator
I started my career at Fox Chase in 1988 in the nurse extern program, exploring my interest in oncology nursing. I then briefly worked at another center before seeing a job opportunity at Fox Chase. Within five months, I was back, and now I’ve been here for more than 22 years. I’ve worked in various types of settings, including home infusion, protocol management and as an outpatient nurse. I became a navigator for breast cancer patients in April 2010, beginning with only one day a week to help cover for another navigator. During that time, I fell in love with the work, so I applied and became a full-time navigator in October.
While I deal with something different every day, I ultimately see myself as a liaison for the patients. Navigators don’t provide social services, but we connect patients with the people who do. Some patients are fine on their own and don’t request extra help; others really need our services and contact us on a regular basis. I’m also here to make sure that women can focus about their recovery rather than their schedules. I had a patient who called and had forgotten to drop off her scheduling form for chemotherapy, and she was supposed to receive treatment that day. I was able to move the process along and fit her in so she didn’t have to change her appointment. Another patient that was commuting from Reading for a biopsy was worried about inclement weather, but needed the biopsy before she could have surgery. I arranged to have it done on the same day, and she immediately felt relieved that she could save herself a trip in the snow. If I can alleviate anxiety for people before they step in the door, or even after they step out, that’s the best part of my job.
Joanne Stein, RN – Head and Neck Nurse Navigator
My experience at Fox Chase began as a staff nurse in 1975, when I worked a lot of head and neck patients during clinical trials in radiation. They were always my favorite patients to serve because they had a challenging course of treatment – often chemotherapy, radiation, and sometimes surgery. In the spring of 2010, I saw an opening for the nurse navigation position in head and neck and applied right away. I officially became a nurse navigator in May 2010, working with two head and neck surgeons and three medical oncologists.
The majority of my time is spent with patients in chemotherapy or radiation. I do everything from coordinating their appointments and setting up infusion room schedules to making inpatient arrangements. I also see the patients during clinics, which I work two afternoons and two full days. I think that just knowing a navigator will be there waiting for you helps the patients calm down a bit. It helps to know they have an extra contact, someone to return their calls and serve as an extra support system. At the end of treatment, if somebody says, “Thank you so much for getting me through this, I don’t know how I’d have done it without you,” it makes me feel great and as if I’m accomplishing something important.
Learn more or get connected with a nurse navigator at The Women’s Cancer Center.
Every so often, I learn that one of our patients is making a difference in the lives of others. Today, I have the honor to re-introduce you to Margaret Zuccotti (a guest blogger last year). A former teacher and avid reader, Margaret launched the Louise S. Mauran Book Fund at Fox Chase to provide supportive books to cancer patients with families of their own. She values every moment she can read with her children and hopes that her project will help others as they cope with their disease.
Be well, Bob
As parents, we often find ourselves having difficult and sometimes awkward discussions with our children about growing up. The conversations cover a wide range of topics, and it is almost always impossible to have all the answers. Sometimes, just knowing how to respond to the initial questions is a struggle. How much should we tell them? How much do they really want to know? Do we lay out all the details or just avoid information altogether? It is hard to gauge how much information to share with young children.
Sharing the news of a cancer diagnosis may be the toughest of all those conversations. While divulging all the details of a diagnosis may, at first, seem frightening, being honest is of the utmost importance. If you don’t tell the truth about your situation, your child may create a scenario which is bigger and more awful than the reality of what you are dealing with.
There is a new fund at Fox Chase Cancer Center to help parents and caregivers deal with challenging cancer conversations. The books in the Louise S. Mauran Book Fund at Fox Chase will provide parents wtih a healthy starting point for discussing cancer. There are six titles now available to any family at Fox Chase, free of charge, who is receiving treatment. The books touch on a variety of topics related to cancer treatments such as hair loss, fatigue, appointments, surgery and sadness. Many of the books remind children that they can’t “catch” cancer or cause a loved one to get cancer. Most importantly, the books emphasize that talking about worries and fears regarding cancer can be helpful to everyone.
I started the fund because I want to help young children as they cope with a parent’s cancer diagnosis. I hope that these children will see that while cancer treatment will affect life at home, it will not change how much we love them. Mothers and fathers try so hard to maintain the normal routine while juggling the many aspects of cancer. Books given to families through the Louise S. Mauran Book Fund will hopefully ease that burden.
The fund is just beginning to touch the lives of patients at Fox Chase. The professionals in the Department of Social Work will hand out the books to patients upon request. It is our hope that the doctors, nurses and staff at Fox Chase will refer patients to the social workers who will present the books to their patients. I want the stories to help patients manage this crummy situation a little better so that they can focus on other things that matter in life.
Margaret Mauran Zuccotti, M.Ed.
Diagnosed Stage IV Breast Cancer, 2006
Lael Swank was diagnosed with stage IIB, grade III breast cancer in March 2010, shortly after her 39th birthday. During her treatment at Fox Chase, Lael and her close friend, Linda, started a CarePage to document her journey and keep all of their family and friends connected. Below, Lael explains in her own words how her CarePage began and how it’s helped her on the road to recovery.
As you know, the journey through cancer diagnosis and treatment is not just experienced by the patient, but by all the family and friends who love him or her. They want to know how treatments are going, how the patient is feeling, and what will happen next. CarePages is a free, private, personalized website where patients or caregivers can post updates and photos, as well as receive messages from loved ones. This is a great tool to keep everyone in the know at once, like in Lael’s care.
If you or a loved one is going through cancer diagnosis, treatment, or are now cancer-free and want an outlet to express yourself and document this experience, I encourage you to check out our CarePages.
Be well, Bob
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2010, it was definitely a shock since I didn’t have any history of breast cancer in my family. My local doctor suggested that I go to Fox Chase after my initial diagnosis to receive further care, and I couldn’t be happier that I did. My care team and I made a treatment plan together which made me feel comfortable and confident. But all of my family and friends weren’t in the exam room with me, so they had a lot of questions about what was going on.
While I did put some updates on Facebook, I didn’t want to put the nitty-gritty details there. In this age of social media, you have 850 friends on Facebook, and they have 650 friends, which makes it hard to control who sees what you post. Facebook to me was somewhere that I could vent, but I needed a different place to explain the whole story of my recovery.
My sister, Kellie, knew that I was getting bombarded with all of these questions, and didn’t want me to have to worry about explaining everything over and over again while trying to deal with treatment. Kellie decided to ask my best friend Linda if I would be interested in starting a CarePage of my own. This would give everyone one central place to go for answers and give me the ability to control who was viewing my updates. When they asked me, I said, “Sounds good, but I’m not writing it!” So, my friend Linda agreed to be the voice of the page for me.
“My CarePage could be updated from the surgical waiting room at Fox Chase, which allowed everyone to be updated at once.”
We started my page in April, after diagnosis but before I had my bilateral mastectomy and TRAM reconstruction. I’ve never been one to keep a journal, and having Linda document my journey for me has been such a blessing. My cancer treatment was my main priority, so it really lightened my load to have Linda writing everything down. At the time of my surgery in May, everybody just wanted to know when I was out of surgery and how I was doing. I didn’t have to field many phone calls or messages because Linda was able to update my CarePage from the waiting room (free WiFi!) at Fox Chase instead. That was a huge relief.
Linda also posts things that I’ve talked to her about, things that I’ve vented to her about, and all the important milestones along the way. I always refer back to my page for dates, like my first and last chemo treatments. It was so special to have surprise photos counting down to my last chemo posted weekly on the site; especially ones of my brother who is away at college. And for that last treatment, I decided to go out in style, like a princess. I put on a tiara and pink boa, and Linda posted pictures of my husband and me online. Everybody loved it and it brought some happiness to a difficult situation. We even got footage of that day featured on ABC’s Good Morning America!
I’d absolutely recommend starting a Care Pages site to anyone going through this experience. Even if you don’t have the energy to write one yourself, you can ask a close family member or friend to help you. Sharing my cancer through the CarePage with my best friend Linda has been quite the journey. It’s been an amazing outlet for us to share our frustrations and triumphs with my loved ones. Linda and I are still posting away, and I can’t wait to get to another milestone for my last day of radiation when I ring the bell!
It was a beautiful, crisp Fall afternoon, the just-planted stuardia tree taking root in the courtyard, when we welcomed about 100 survivors and supporters on November 6 for the Jane Pepper Women’s Cancer Symposium.
The day was designed as an opportunity for survivors and their family and friends to convene to discuss issues surrounding cancers that affect women and to celebrate survivorship.
Fox Chase Cancer Center CEO Michael Seiden offered opening remarks and dedicated the day to board member Jane Pepper for her years of service and commitment to supporting our research and treatment efforts.
Dr. Mary Daly, chair of the Department of Clinical Genetics, moderated a panel discussion featuring ovarian cancer survivor Emily Beck, and breast cancer survivors Cathy Bueti and Kerri Conners, followed by a reception and tour of the Women’s Cancer Center.
We were confident that these young women’s stories would inspire the audience, because they have used their challenges to encourage other women to pursue their dreams. But we were still overcome with how honest and engaging they were.
For Emily Beck, 38, a three-year survivor of Stage IIIA ovarian cancer, this was the first time she shared her story publicly. A child advocate attorney, Emily spoke about volunteering with First Descents (www.firstdescents.org), a non-profit that provides free outdoor adventure experiences for young adult cancer patients and survivors. She showed slides of her experiences and how participants surpass their expectations about what they can accomplish physically. We encourage you to visit Emily’s blog, See Emily Play, as she shares her ongoing journey as a cancer survivor.
Cathy Bueti, a nine-year survivor, stressed that writing and being creative has helped her manage the fear and anxiety of cancer. Cathy told the heart breaking story of how she became a widow at age 25, and several years later, was diagnosed with breast cancer. In May 2009, she published the moving memoir Breastless in the City chronicling, with good humor, her experience as a young widow dating through cancer treatment. She also maintains a blog and web site, cathybueti.com. Her husband of seven years, who was in the audience, received a warm ovation.
Kerri Conner postponed her bridal shower to be with us! Kerri was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer at age 33, and described how different her experience has been from that of her mother, who had breast cancer at age 41 without the support that exists today. Kerri published My Mommy Has Breast Cancer but She is OK! this past February, inspired by her 4 year-old daughter. Kerri chaired Philadelphia’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in 2009 to celebrate the 10th year survivorship anniversary of her mother, with whom she operates a CPA firm.
All three women acknowledged that the experience of cancer doesn’t end with formal treatment and that issues of cancer survivorship are real. At the same time, they demonstrated how vibrant life continues to be with the support of family and friends, the pursuit of physical and creative outlets, and the faith that we can thrive.
We plan to host more programs like this at the Center that promote education, inspiration and support. We’d love to hear from those of you who attended, and we welcome your suggestions for future programming.
Be Well, Bob
Even though October has come to an end, breast cancer awareness and education is always on our minds at Fox Chase Cancer Center. As you know, we are currently preparing for our Jane Pepper Women’s Cancer Symposium this Saturday, November 6, which will focus on women’s cancers and survivorship (all are welcome to attend, even if you didn’t RSVP yet!) But we are also looking forward to December 11, when three of our very own staff members will be speaking at the Philadelphia affiliate of Susan G. Komen 7th Annual Sisters for the Cure event.
Sisters for the Cure is a wonderful program that empowers the African American community to take charge of their breast health and reduce their risk of breast cancer.
I’m always impressed by the breadth of topics they cover, from the emotional side effects of cancer treatment to how women in need can find financial assistance. Events such as Sisters for the Cure are especially important since African Americans have the highest breast cancer death rate compared to all other racial or ethnic groups – that equates to the loss of almost 6,000 African American women each year. Education is the first step toward reducing these statistics and building a strong network of support.
Fox Chase’s Dr. Mary Daly, Chair of the Department of Clinical Genetics; Joan James, PA-C, Project Manager of Breast Cancer Prevention; and Melanie Corbman, MS, CGC, Cancer Genetic Counselor, will lend their expertise during a specialized group session on “Personalized Treatment for Breast Cancer.” Together, they will touch on advances in matching the best treatment plan to each individual patient, the importance of a family history of cancer, and clinical trials.
This year’s Sisters for the Cure event also includes a breakfast session on sexuality and intimacy for breast cancer survivors, a breakout session on breast health basics, and a keynote lunch address by Dr. Byllye Y. Avery, Founder of the National Black Women’s Health Project and the Avery Institute for Social Change.
I hope that you will find this program a useful resource, whether you have already been diagnosed with breast cancer or you are taking proactive steps to protect your breast health. As always, we welcome your questions about breast cancer or any other cancers on the blog, our Facebook and Twitter pages.
Sisters for the Cure will take place at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, 1201 Market Street, Philadelphia on December 11, 2010 from 8:30am – 2pm.
For more information or to register, visit the Susan G. Komen Sisters for the Cure website.
Here at Fox Chase, we’re constantly amazed by the incredible ways that family and friends of cancer patients choose to support and honor their loved ones. Equally inspiring are the ways that these people – regardless of their age – can make a difference in their communities.
I’d like to share with you a special story about how one patient’s experience inspired her daughter to make a difference in the breast cancer community by organizing a successful fundraiser for teens and their moms. Her work also resulted in the public recognition of the doctor who not only treated her mom, but who has made a positive impact in the lives of women throughout the Delaware Valley.
This is the story of Barbara Davis and her daughter Eliza, presented by Barbara’s doctor Marcia Boraas, MD, a surgical oncologist who recently returned to Fox Chase. We hope you find it as inspiring as we do.
Last November, I had the great honor of being recognized for “Outstanding Devotion to the Breast Health of the Women of the Delaware Valley” at the first annual “Tickled Pink” event sponsored by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The event—a gala featuring an auction and survivor fashion show—was planned and launched by Teens for the Cure, a junior chapter of the local Komen affiliate that was founded by Eliza Davis, the youngest daughter of my patient Barbara.
I first met Barbara when she developed breast cancer in 2003 and I performed her surgery here at Fox Chase. Inspired by Barbara’s experience overcoming cancer, Eliza launched a Philadelphia chapter of Teens for the Cure and rallied friends and supporters to organize the area’s first Tickled Pink event. The highly successful event was attended by over 400 guests and raised an impressive $110,000 for Komen. Just as importantly, it offered breast cancer survivors, their families and friends the opportunity to come together and celebrate.
Most women with breast cancer are treated successfully, which is why offering hopeful care to my patients is one of the most rewarding aspects of my work at Fox Chase. Eliza and Barbara’s story reflects the importance of hope, and shows how an experience that is initially frightening—a breast cancer diagnosis—can turn into a source of inspiration and positive change.
I sincerely hope you’ll consider joining Barbara, Eliza, my daughter, Elisabeth and myself at this year’s Tickled Pink, which will be held at the National Constitution Center on Friday, November 19, 2010.
All the best,
Marcia Boraas, MD
To learn more about this year’s Tickled Pink and to buy tickets (available through November 1), click here.