Frontline Spring 2021

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2021, Volume I

Support Senate Bill 445: New Legislation to Increase Breast Cancer Research Funding

PBCC Grant Winner Dr. David Cormode, Penn Medicine


o move more ideas from the lab to life-saving treatments, researchers need funding. Sen. Bob Mensch is introducing Senate Bill 445 which enables Pennsylvanians to donate to breast cancer research through their Driver’s License and Vehicle Registration renewals. Contributions will go to the PBCC’s Research Grants Initiative for outstanding Pennsylvania scientists working to find a cure for breast cancer now... so our daughters don’t have to. Thank you to our 33 Senate co-sponsors of the bill!


- Anne Moon, PhD, PBCC Research Grant Winner

PRESIDENT’S CORNER New Board Members Robin Shine-Maddox joins the PBCC Board as a breast cancer

survivor who fights every day for other survivors across the state. Robin received a Friends Like Me care package and immediately connected herself with our mission. Through legislative advocacy, educational outreach and her empowering spirit, Robin quite literally “shines” as an advocate and mentor. Robin is a previous PBCC Pink Ribbon Awardee and photo exhibit participant who now shares her own personal story with solidarity and hope. Thank you for the work that you do and congratulations, Robin!

Evelyn Gonzalez brings over 30 years of experience in public health

advocacy to our board. She currently serves as Senior Director in the Office of Community Outreach at Fox Chase Cancer Center, educating the community on issues like cancer screening and treatment. As Chair of the PBCC’s Dense Breast Advisory Committee, Evelyn was instrumental in the passage of the PBCC’s Breast Density Notification Act of 2014 and many subsequent pieces of legislation. Welcome and thank you for your contributions, Evelyn!

Honi Gruenberg is a breast cancer survivor, advocate and Chair of our

PBCC County Captains, representing Monroe County. Because of Honi’s efforts, thousands of Pennsylvania women at high-risk for breast cancer now have insurance coverage for breast MRIs and ultrasounds. Her passion and persistance have made a tremendous impact for women facing breast cancer in our state. Honi received the Pink Ribbon Award at our 2020 Conference for her leadership and dedication to our mission. Welcome, Honi, Board Member and Chair of PBCC County Captains!

Join Honi and become a County Captain for the PA Breast Cancer Coalition! We’re looking for passionate volunteers to help us take action and serve women facing breast cancer in our state.

Visit to apply!


You were diagnosed with breast cancer at the very beginning of the pandemic. What was that like? On March 10, 2020, I went in for my annual mammogram, and a few days later, received a call back.... I was not ultrasurprised by this at first because I had felt a lump, but didn’t think too much about it because I had had a benign tumor two years earlier. I made an appointment to go in for a magnifying mammogram and ultrasound. At this point in time the Covid19 pandemic had just started to explode. During my ultrasound, the radiologist identified a 4cm tumor in my left breast that needed to be biopsied. I was diagnosed officially with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)in situ, ER/PR- HER2 positive. I would need chemotherapy and surgery, all this while the world was paralyzed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Receiving treatment during the pandemic was at first very scary. I was not able to have anyone go in with me for my MRI, PET Scan or Echocardiogram appointments. I also had to go through 6 rounds of intensive 6-hour chemotherapy every 3 weeks alone. By nature, I am a social person and that all had to change. Facetime, however, was a lifesaver as I was able to communicate during my 6-hour chemotherapy sessions with family and friends. At first, the thought of having to do this all alone was devasting. However, I had no choice but to do it alone so I dug in deep, put my faith in God and turned my trust all over to my medical care team. Having to do these things alone actually empowered me. I am a stronger person for it. It was time to step up and become a warrior. I have to say there isn’t much that I couldn’t do alone anymore and as a result I feel so empowered.

For her birthday, Heather set up a Facebook fundraiser for the PBCC, raising more than $900! Thank you, Heather!

What have been the biggest “bright spots” for you? A bright spot for me was the overwhelming love and encouragement that I received from my family and friends. I received numerous texts, emails and cards almost every day along with care packages, flowers and gift cards. Knowing that I had the support from them made me want to fight even harder. It felt like they were right there with me. As, the warmer weather moved in I was able to socially distance visit with friends and family on the patio and around the fire pit which boosted my spirits immensely. You received a Friends Like Me care package and we are so grateful to now call you a Grassroots Partner! Tell us about your experience with the PBCC. The PBCC was a great support to me along my journey. The Friends Like Me Care Package I received was such joy and encouragement. There is just something so special knowing that someone cares and understands what you are going through, like a “sisterhood”. The care package had several print articles of support and encouragement and made me feel as I was part of very special team and that I was not alone in this journey. I also enjoyed the hand knitted beanie which came in great use and the Thrive Causemetics which made me feel bright and confident. Breast cancer has taught me _______________. Breast cancer has taught me that I am a strong warrior! I had to be strong in ways that I never thought I would have. What would you like other women to know?

Heather joins survivor Joyce Ashe as a PBCC Dauphin County Captain! Together, they will advocate for breast cancer survivors across PA!

Breast cancer is a scary and ugly beast, however, it is not to be feared. Once diagnosed with cancer you have a choice. You can surrender or you can fight. I chose to FIGHT! I did this by surrounding myself with positive people and influences. During chemotherapy, I actually visualized the chemotherapy “cocktails” going right to my tumor and obliterating it! Guess what... it DID. I am now cancer free and my 4 cm tumor that I had back in March 2020 is gone. Be proactive and be positive!

Breaststroke for Breast Cancer is unstoppable! The Hershey Aquatic Club has raised $148,949 for our cause. Thank you for your incredible support!




1. Breaststroke for Breast Cancer - $21,961

2. Toasting a Cure at the Vineyard - $20,813



photos from previous events

3. Westmoreland Walks - $20,000 4. North Middleton Fire Co. - $575 For more photos and event updates, follow the PBCC on Facebook @PABreastCancer!


photos from 2019 event

Martin’s Chips President & CEO Butch Potter (above) and his wife Janet Potter, a PBCC County Captain (right) dedicate their lives to serving others. Every October, Martin’s launches the “Martin’s Chips in for a Cure” campaign, selling pink bags of chips and popcorn with a portion of sales going to the PBCC. Martin’s has contributed more than $250,000 to our work, including nearly $20,000 over the last year. Thank you for moving our mission forward!

UPCOMING EVENTS Virtual Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community Saturday, May 15, 2021 LIVE on Facebook Walk anywhere, anytime! SAVE THE DATE! PBCC Virtual Conference Friday, October 15, 2021 Stay tuned for details!


S AV E T H E D AT E ! PBCC Pink Fountain at the Capitol Tuesday, October 5, 2021 Pennsylvania State Capitol East Wing Fountain Harrisburg, PA


Want to host an event in community to help breast cancer survivors? We have ideas! Visit and get started!





Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer Research and Overcoming the Pandemic through Vaccination

Jason J. Luke, MD

Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD

Leisha A. Emens, MD, PhD

Director, UPMC Cancer Immunotherapeutics Center

Director, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

Director, Translational Immunotherapy at UPMC’s Womens Cancer Research Center

OVID-19 has had an immense impact on society and patients with breast cancer. To move past COVID-19, scientists and doctors agree that “herd immunity” must be reached. This term implies that transmission is low because atrisk individuals are unlikely to meet each other. Herd immunity will require approximately 70% of people to be vaccinated or previously infected by the virus. The good news is that vaccination is ramping up so that herd immunity might be reached by summer 2021.

funding commitment will be necessary to regain research momentum. On the positive side, the rise of telemedicine is an improvement in clinical care that should be maintained. Perhaps most importantly, data from clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines supports the vaccines as extremely safe.

immune system recognizes Spike, the virus is generally prevented from infecting. In 2019 (before COVID-19), a clinical trial demonstrated that mRNA vaccines were safe when combined with standard cancer immune-therapy.


An unprecedented scientific effort has advanced our understanding of COVID-19 in the past year, leading to improved medical care and the development of effective vaccines. We recently participated in the American Association of Cancer Research COVID-19 and Cancer virtual meeting, where we discussed the impact of COVID-19 on cancer research, clinical trials and cancer care. It is clear that cancer science experienced a significant delay and clinical trials were slowed. A major


FOR PATIENTS WITH CANCER The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, The American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer have recommended all cancer patients be vaccinated as soon as possible, generally agreeing that vaccination should be delayed only for rare patients such as those receiving bone marrow transplants. CATEGORIES OF VACCINES mRNA vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna): mRNA molecules are the normal transfer mechanism from our genes to our proteins that carry out physical functions. mRNA vaccines carry the genetic message of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein, which the virus uses to infect cells. Once the


SCHEDULING RECOMMENDATIONS BEFORE first COVID-19 vaccine dose OR T 4-6 weeks AFTER second vaccine dose Source: Society of Breast Imaging

Adenovirus vector vaccines (Johnson and Johnson, Astrazeneca/Oxford: A common approach going back decades is to vaccinate with a common non-dangerous virus that can infect cells but not make more virus particles. Instead, the virus makes another protein which in this case is the Spike protein. Many standard vaccines use this approach. While the COVID-19 pandemic will be a defining period in our lives, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is essential therefore to maintain social distancing, continue mask wearing and pursue vaccination rapidly so we can return to the most meaningful things in life – seeing our families, giving a hug and supporting the people we love through difficult times in their lives.


The PA Breast Cancer Coalition is proud to award three $50,000 grants to outstanding Pennsylvania breast cancer researchers, all of whom are studying the development of and therapy for metastatic breast cancer. The passion and dedication of these scientists is our hope to extend lives and ultimately find a cure for breast cancer now... so our daughters don’t have to. Congratulations to our 2021 PBCC Breast Cancer Research Grant winners!

Two-time grant winner Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD (right) of Drexel University College of Medicine accepts his 2021 PBCC grant with Sr. Vice Dean for Research Kenny Simansky, PhD (left). Wistar Institute’s Zachary Schug, PhD and Wistar President Dario Altieri, MD accept a PBCC Research Grant from PBCC President Pat Halpin-Murphy


UPMC’s Adrian Lee, PhD holds his PBCC award along with his wife, fellow researcher and previous grant recipient Steffi Oesterreich, PhD


contributed to PA breast cancer researchers

Surprise! The PA Breast Cancer Coalition awarded Wendie Berg, MD, PhD, FACR of UPMC’s Magee-Womens Hospital with a 2021 Extraordinary Opportunity Grant of $50,000. Dr. Berg plans to use the funding to study breast cancer screenings, specifically contrast-enhanced mammography (CEM), a method that may detect cancers not seen on standard mammograms for women with dense breasts. Congratulations, Dr. Berg!

2397 Quentin Road, Suite B, Lebanon, PA 17042 800-377-8828

T COVID-19 AND BREAST CANCER What you need to know about vaccines, screenings and the months ahead

<< Hear from the experts on page 6!

saturday, may 15

Bring us steps closer to a cure for breast cancer in the Virtual Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community! Join us May 15 for our Facebook LIVE Virtual Walk

Register at Join PBCC Team Captain Marilyn Fuller-Smith