March 26, 2015 |
In her latest op-ed confessional, Angelina Jolie succinctly captured the complex dilemmas faced by women who carry a genetic defect that predisposes them to breast and ovarian cancer. Two years ago, the actress, who has a BRCA1 mutation, had both breasts removed. That largely eliminated her 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer, but did nothing to reduce her 50 percent chance of ovarian cancer. So last week, at age 39, she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. While that cut her ovarian cancer risk by 85 percent, it also ended her fertility, plunged her into menopause, and left her with an estrogen deficiency that raises her risks of problems such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
March 22, 2015 |
To the ever-growing list of things smartphones can put at your fingertips (weather, traffic, games, stock quotes), Apple aims to add "relieve suffering" and "advance science. " Two local researchers who were part of the team that created the company's new breast cancer iPhone application, called Share the Journey, believe that those lofty goals are realistic. Apple enlisted Kathryn Schmitz, an epidemiologist and exercise physiologist at the University of Pennsylvania, and Marisa Weiss, a Lankenau Hospital breast radiation oncologist, who founded and leads the resource website breastcancer.org.
January 24, 2015 |
Loretta Dittrich Spotila began her career as a nutritionist at nursing homes in Buffalo, N.Y., and then taught nutrition at the State University of New York in Buffalo. But she wanted to do more, said her husband, James R. Spotila, Betz chair and professor of environmental science at Drexel University. "She was trying to find the mechanisms of how disease works, and she thought molecular biology would give her a handle to look for those mechanisms," said her husband, whom she married in 1967.
January 12, 2015 |
Josh Cassidy always looked up to his older brother, Eric, as a basketball player and as a basketball coach. But when their mother, Deborah, got breast cancer, Josh developed a deeper appreciation for the oldest of the family's four siblings. "He didn't show much because he knew he had to be strong for us," Josh Cassidy said of Eric Cassidy. "He was the rock. He was the one we all could count on. " The brothers are young adults who have dedicated their lives to teaching and coaching.
January 5, 2015 |
It seems counterintuitive, but detecting breast cancer early is not automatically a good thing. That dilemma is at the heart of the never-ending debate over starting mammography screening before age 50. Now, a team led by obstetrician-gynecologist Margaret Polaneczky has developed an interactive online tool to help women in their 40s who are not at high risk of breast cancer decide when to start - and how often to get - mammograms. The "decision aid," at http://bsd.med.cornell.edu , provides objective but individualized information based on the woman's own breast cancer risk and preferences.
December 13, 2014 |
Feeling at the very peak of health, Lynn Marks couldn't have been more surprised when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "I was kind of blown away," she recalled. And with no connection to other breast-cancer patients, she felt isolated. Fifteen years later, Marks, 65, of Center City, the executive director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, knows that others are literally in the same boat, specifically one that dates to ancient Chinese tradition. She is a member of a dragon-boat crew, Against the Wind, made up of breast-cancer survivors.
November 12, 2014 |
IF YOU SHOWED up at Ruth Boston's home on a Sunday morning before church, you were treated to the best of gospel music and words of comfort and wisdom from an evangelist. Ruth would have the radio on WURD (900-AM) to listen to the Rev. Louise Williams Bishop, an evangelist and state representative from the 192nd District. The TV would be on for Bobby Jones Gospel, playing the kind of music that was just right for a devoted churchgoing woman before she went out the door. Ruth would be off to Camphor Memorial United Methodist Church to hear the Rev. Frank Moore or another minister tell it like it is. Ruth Veronica Mills Boston, who worked for several Philadelphia manufacturing companies, a woman famed for her culinary skills and her devotion to her family and church, died Nov. 4 of cancer.
November 9, 2014 |
Candice and Ryan Ismirle sat on a small sofa at Crozer-Chester Medical Center, cradling their 2-day-old twin sons, Ryder and Rafe. Candice Ismirle's cousin and parents hovered nearby. In many ways, it was an archetypal celebration of new life by an extended family. But the scene was also testimony to their defiance - some might say denial - of a grim reality. At 33, Candice Ismirle is battling an aggressive, metastatic breast cancer. She and her husband, who live in Washington, conceived the twins through in vitro fertilization.
October 30, 2014
OCTOBER is Breast Cancer Awareness Month - and a call to action to get your annual breast checkup. According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the U.S. About 232,670 cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year. Megan Donascimento was happily enjoying life when, last fall, the 46-year-old Mount Airy resident was rocked by the news that she had breast cancer. "I was always adamant about getting mammograms because by mother had breast cancer at 34," said the married mom of two teenagers, a daughter, 18, and a son, 17. Her November 2013 diagnosis was "an aggressive, Stage 2 tumor.
October 30, 2014 |
Debra Copit, Generosa Grana, and Marisa Weiss have much in common: all mothers, all Main Line residents, all doctors - all breast cancer specialists. And they all have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Their similar stories are both coincidence and cautionary tale - illustrations of breast cancer's indiscriminate nature but also its complexity, storming into the lives of patients with individual and unique markers. Yet at least in one way, cancer has imparted a shared lesson to these women, all of whom are now in excellent health: Getting a diagnosis will change your life.