Battling Breast Cancer…A Year Round Effort!

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By Rosemary Garrity

 “Life became a series of doctor visits between the surgeon, the oncologist, and the radiologist,” remembers Liz Giancola, of Sewickley. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Liz was a young mom with three children and was trying to cope with treatment issues, her family and her job.  Quite a formidable task. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by this disease…but living with it, is another story.  This is especially true for women who are categorized as premenopausal, because, in many cases, they are shocked to learn that they have breast cancer, let alone having to cope with everything else in their lives.

According to Dr. Kandace McGuire, Director of premenopausal Breast Cancer Services at Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC, “Breast cancer in young women is inherently different from breast cancer in older women.”  In fact, when breast cancer occurs in younger women, it is often more aggressive. So managing your life with this diagnosis is challenging, to say the least. It is therefore, very important for researchers to learn more about how this population is affected so that doctors can learn how to treat them. At the present time, A Glimmer of Hope Foundation is continuing to fund the largest premenopausal breast cancer research project in the country.  Diana Napper, founder of this local grass-roots organization, has been committed to this project for several years.  “My goal is to do everything that I can to help these women,” she has stated on many occasions. Since her best friend died of this horrific disease, she knows, first hand, how breast cancer affects, not only the person diagnosed, but also the family.

As with any project of this magnitude, funding issues are challenging. In order to be able to obtain the necessary funds for various projects, Glimmer of Hope hosts several events during the year, and Bid for Hope happens to be  the largest. This year’s Bid for Hope XII will be held at the very chic, Echo restaurant, located on Route 228 in Cranberry on October 21, at 7 pm. In addition to the ambiance of the restaurant, Echo has the reputation of having a sumptuous menu.  Attendees will simply love the hors d’ouvres that will be prepared by the restaurant’s talented chef, as well as the carving stations that include local herb-roasted turkey and beef tenderloin. When guests arrive at 7, several Steelers will be there to autograph balls that are found in the gift bags that attendees are given. Participants will be very impressed with the beautiful baskets and other auction items that they can bid on during the evening.  Heath Miller and his lovely wife Katie, will be hosting the event, along with former Steeler Alan Faneca and his wife, Julie Nicole Hammond, the Private Events Coordintor at Echo is looking forward to this year’s event. “We’re very excited for the opportunity to work with the Glimmer of Hope and the Pittsburgh Steelers to help raise funds for breast cancer research and continuing education.”

Judy Herstine, Program Administrator of the Women’s Cancer Services, states, “The Glimmer of Hope and the Bid for Hope events have been instrumental in providing funding to assist in the development of clinical research and patient services for young women with breast cancer at Magee-Women’s Hospital and Magee-Women’s Research Institute. The Glimmer Foundation has worked closely with the staff at Magee to implement procedures that will make it easier for young women who have been diagnosed In fact, a Glimmer Champion, a person who helps to “navigate” these women through the treatment process, has been hired from funds obtained at various Glimmer events. Arthur Scully, Vice-president Development & Communications at Magee-Women’s Research Institute & Foundation is very grateful for the support from this organization. ”Glimmer has funded research and clinical projects since 1999 and created better circumstances for young women diagnosed with breast cancer and we value their work.

Several new partnerships will be supporting Glimmer this year that will make it possible for Glimmer to enhance its projects. According to Joslynn Tatterson, Marketing Dirctor, Chick-fil-A Pittsburgh locations will give a portion of their lemonade sales during a promotional week in October. The hope is to not only raise a significant amount of money, but to bring awareness about Glimmer of Hope’s fight against breast cancer. “The Pittsburgh Chick-fil-A chose to partner with Glimmer of Hope because it is a Pittsburgh based charity and the money raised is used to benefit women in our local communities.”  Rayna Matz, owner of The Mackenzie Collection, a pop-up boutique that features jewelry and clothing, plans to host a party in October  and will donate a percentage of the  sales  to Glimmer. In addition, Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, with locations in the Pittsburgh area, plans to donate 10% of sales every Tuesday in October. Needless to say, Glimmer is thrilled with the generosity of these various entities.

The research that is occurring has been instrumental in helping women to make decisions regarding their treatment. According to Joann Sirera, “I was shocked about my diagnosis, because I live a very healthy life style.  The oncotype test helped me to decide to have a lumpectomy but forgo the radiation and chemo. It’s been two years and I am cancer free and doing great!”  Other women may need to choose other options to treat their cancer, but now, research results regarding various treatments can help them make that decision. It is obvious that the fight to find a cure for breast cancer, is an on-going, year round, effort. To get more information please visit symbolofthecure.com or 800-454-6746. YOU can make a difference!