Thursday, November 17, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

FORCE Fridays: Help is Here! Find Your Local Support Group

Here is a link to help find a support group near you:

I never put much faith in support groups. When my father died I was totally grief-stricken. My mother was even worse off. We were both counseled by friends and family to go to a support group and be among people who are experiencing the same thing. To put it mildly, they, well, they sucked! The Widow and Widowers group my mom attended was filled with women either looking for another partner or just stuck in grief mode and with men coming for the free food and maybe another caregiver. In my mother's own words at the time she said, "I am not looking for more dirty socks and sex. I want to move on with my life." As for me, I found the meetings with the family grief group at the hospital depressing and most were there to relive the life of their dearly departed. Don't get me wrong, I was sad, depressed and wanted to keep my dad's memory alive. But this was too suffocating.

So, when I found out I carried the BRCA2 genetic mutation, I was looking for some answers to my questions in my head. But I had a bad taste for the support groups. I thought I would try the Internet in 2006 when I was debating whether or not to move from heavy surveillance to prophylactic surgeries. I was already on Tamoxifen, a drug used to help ward off the cancer cells. I found loads of sites for breast cancer but since I had not yet been diagnosed, I felt like the proverbial square peg in the round hole. 

Then  one day, I was quietly surfing again, and I stumbled upon FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. I was actually looking for more information on prophylactic mastectomies and this website popped up. It was on the 3rd or 4th page which I normally don't venture to. But oh, my relief when I opened the page! There were my people! They got it! They knew what I was going through! There were message boards, live chat rooms and so much information to read. And one thing I did not expect, a local support group in Philadelphia. 

I was not in a rush to get involved with a face-to-face group after my experiences previously. But after making the decision to have surgery and the subsequent infections, cancer and multiple surgeries, I thought I would give it a try. There were 13 women plus the two Outreach Coordinators. This was very different. This group of women were all ages and backgrounds. Some survivors and mostly previvors. We talked, laughed, cried, talked some more. Found out the new trends, new information, news about FORCE itself. Then we had Show and Tell. We went into the kitchen and got to show our surgeries and tell about them. The rest of the group were encouraged to ask questions. Answers were given and more. Nobody felt alone anymore. We had sisters in the flesh, literally!

That was 2007. The Outreach Coordinators number 4 in our local group. At last count, there were over 200 women who receive emails and that we reach out to. The group has lists of doctors, hospitals and genetics counselors to interview and check out. We have one-on-one support before, during and after surgeries if the person wants it. There is a special part of the group that helps those younger women not ready for anything more than just close surveillance. The Outreach groups themselves have grown from 10 to over 60 and more are being developed as I write. There are even International groups now in Australia, Canada, England and New Zealand. I know that our Vice-President of Volunteers, Sandy Cohen, is trying to get more Outreach groups going all the time. 

If there is not a group available near you. please got to the URL I provided at the beginning of this post and check again. If they are too far away, here is an URL to go to so you can fill out the Future Network Sign Up Form:

As always, FORCE family is here to help, support and provide love and information to get you through your journey as smoothly as possible. 

Love and hugs,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pinkwashing is Year Round

Susan G. Komen for the Cure makes mockery of self with KFC pinkwashing campaign (opinion):

'via Blog this'

The above referenced article really points out the dichotomy of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. On one hand they want to get people to donate money to their Fund. On the other hand, they have almost any company endorse as long as they are willing to add pink to their printing press. Yes, it is as simple as all that. PINK, Pink, Pink. It is virtually all year round now, not just in October.

Also, another article I found (, links The Big K with Planned Parenthood. I am not seeing a relationship here. Why are they donating funds to them? I am not going to get into a debate on birth control, womens' rights, pro-life or pro-choice here. My point is that these funds, according to the Big K, are going to pay for mammograms and health checks for women. The basis for the donation deals with the reduced incidence of breast cancer when a pregnancy is carried to term. Turn the statistic around! Can it not be said that abortion is contributing to breast cancer? This is an argument that never should have been entered into by the two organizations.

I also found that in 2010, KFC was selling Buckets for a Cure, resplendent in their pinkness. You need to read the journalist's point of view. I agree with him that it seems that Big K is encouraging the consumer to eat the KFC fried chicken. Now, let us review this! What covers the chicken? White flour, salt and MSG along with the secret seasonings. The first three ingredients are quite harmful. As a matter of fact, MSG is a known carcinogen. Eating this fried food leads to obesity (not that I am one to talk, being seriously overweight) and that is proven to lead to increases risk of breast cancer as well as others. Frying at a high heat produces
acrylamides, toxic chemical by-products of cooking that are believed by manyhealthexperts to promote cancer ( One scientific study, for example, demonstrated thateatingacrylamides boosts kidney cancer rates by 59 percent. Acrylamides are also linked to ovarian cancer. {Thursday, April 22. 2010, Mike Adams}

P. F. Louis writes in this article about where Big K's money goes ( that the former CEO of Big K received $500,000 per year. Nancy Brinker, founder, has stepped in to take over but there are no figures pertaining to her salary. In the 2009/2010 fiscal year, they handed out teh following:

$141 million for education, $47 million for health screening, and $75 million for research. Fundraising costs and affiliate expenses were approximately $60 million with general administrative costs at $37 million.
Do not get excited about these monies. Not once has anyone been educated correctly about nutrition and what foods to avoid to help prevent breast cancer. There are doctors in this country and abroad who are working on drugs to help treat breast cancer but they have not received any funds. What about the thousands and thousands of metastatic patients out there? Any money going to help them? I have seen any reports on that front. Let us not forget the men who have breast cancer. My father died from breast cancer and the males who have a family history are not exempt. Big K does not recognize them to the best of my knowledge. It is only PINK!

Big K has been raising money since before 1982. Why, in all these years, have they not found the ever elusive cure? Of course not. Think of the corporate executives in the pharmaceutical industry, the chemotherapy producers and the radiation technology suppliers. They would be standing in the unemployment line right next to the mets patient who cannot hold a job longer than the respite in between chemo and radiation. 

Off to go fight other windmills kids! Sancho, saddle my horse and give me my lance and helmet. What color shall we use for the ribbons? Certainly not PINK!

Love and hugs,

P.S. Thank you to 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

FORCE Fridays: Advocating for Men: Responding to the USPSTF Recommendations against PSA « Thoughts from FORCE

Advocating for Men: Responding to the USPSTF Recommendations against PSA « Thoughts from FORCE:

In the most recent blog entry from Sue Friedman, Executive Director of FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, she speaks again on behalf of those who carry the BRCA Genetic Mutation.

We know women who carry the BRCA 1 or 2 Genetic Mutation puts them at a higher risk for developing either breast or ovarian cancer. It also puts men at a higher risk for breast cancer. There is also a 33% higher risk for these men to develop prostate cancer. This prostate cancer is more devious in that it builds faster, more aggressive and holds a much greater probability of mortality.

The one blood test that helps predicts prostate cancer is the PSA. The government wants to raise the age for the guidelines at which the PSA should be performed. This cannot be allowed to happen. Although my father passed away from breast cancer, the other men in my family who carry the BRCA2 genetic mutation are in this higher risk group. My son runs a 50% risk of inheriting the genetic mutation from me and may run in that risk category. It is a very scary thought.

PLEASE, click on the above link, read Sue's blog and take ACTION for all of the men in your family who may carry the mutation and those others out there who do. Stand up for their rights to EARLY detection!

Love and hugs,

Saturday, October 29, 2011

FORCE Fridays: Community Artwork

FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered): FORCE Community Artwork:

'via Blog this'

Never it be said that this cancer and previvor journey lessens anyone's desire to express themselves. Some through writing. Others through their art.

FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered has its share of very talented people! On this page I have bookmarked on the link above, the artists shine.

I also have a poem on there and my friend Carol is pictured with me on the left. The poem was featured in the FORCE 10th Anniversary book. I have to say, I was honored and very proud!

Please enjoy viewing all of the wonderful presentations. Items of artwork have been incorporated into various gift and stationery that are available for purchase in the FORCE Partner Shops,

Love and hugs,

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween 2011

Mike looks hungry!

Our Annual Game Night Group Halloween Party, 2011

We were missing some of the gang...maybe they were waylayed by a zombie or ghoul!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 21, 2011

FRIDAYS FOR FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered): About Us

FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered): About Us:

'via Blog this'

Just browsing through the FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered Website and was reminded of a very important segment that is offered, The Patient Experience Tool.

Ask yourself, how many times do you ask about a good book to read or which restaurant to try? Always asking for referrals from family and for important and inconsequential matters? Of course you do! So what would make choosing a Breast or Plastic Surgeon, hospital or genetics counselor any different?

This service is provided for and by volunteers and members of FORCE. Their personal opinions are there for anyone to take with them in helping to make an informed decision about their next step in dealing with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancers. I myself have also provided information and very glad to share through my blog as well:

Fox Chase Cancer Center and Margaret Dyson/FRAP (Family Risk Assessment Program) is where I went for my BRCA testing (tested positive for BRCA2 in 1996) with Dr. Mary Daly.
( for more info)

Abington Memorial Hospital (AMH) is my choice for surgery, especially since my doctors are on staff there. (

Dr. Christopher Pezzi, also at AMH, Oncologic Surgeon, also a friend of mine. When he suggested surgery, I listened up since I knew he really had my best interest at heart. Moreover, he is a brilliant surgeon and has a wonderful reputation. (

Dr. Brian Buinewicz, Chief of Plastic Surgery at AMH. I cannot say enough about Dr. B! I had a rough journey with lots of setbacks and he and his staff were supportive and professional. (

Betty Cummings, RN: She is the light of AMH in connection with Breast Cancer Support. She appeared at my hospital room door one morning and reached out to me with advice and help. Her information can be found on this url: Also on this page are links to "Look Good Feel Better" program by American Cancer Society, Gilda's Club at AMH and plenty of other information.

Remember, all these recommendations are totally subjective. Please! Remember this caveat for me and especially FORCE:

This website and the Registry service are for individual educational use only. Nothing on this site is or should be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or other information that could only be obtained by a face to face interview with a health care service provider. Any listing of a health care service provider’s information and/or views expressed in connection with submission of such information is solely the view of the Submitter and does not reflect the position of FORCE nor is anything on this website to be deemed an endorsement of any such doctor or health care service provider by FORCE. Use of any such doctor or health care service provider is engaged in by you at your own risk.
Love and hugs,


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Five Movie - Official Site -

Five Movie - Official Site -

'via Blog this'

I am watching the movie, "Five". I am on the third segment as I write this. As usual, I am crying. But I wonder if I am crying over the characters on the small screen. Am I crying over the loss of my father who passed away from breast cancer in 1989? Am I crying over the battles fought and won and lost by my friends? Some are more than likely happy tears for those that have survived chemo, radiation, surgeries and pain but are still here to tell their own tales.

There are times that I wonder if breast cancer is just lurking under the surface. I am at the same age my father was battling his breast cancer. So are the surgeries and chemo-prevention enough to chase away that genetic and hereditary predisposition? I am so full of doubts. I find myself volunteering for anything I can do with FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. This is in some way, a reaction to my fears. FORCE helped me through the worst of the times when I had my mastectomies. So giving back is what I need to do.

I also find myself very short-tempered. I erupt, mildly at times and others when lava seems to flow venomously out of my head out loud and also on paper. I have this dread lurking. I should be celebrating the fact I am here and alive and have a beautiful family. And one of my friends from FORCE, Caryn, told me once I am feeling survivor guilt. It is beginning to really invade my thoughts on a regular basis.

Survivors have this feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for breast cancer to rear its ugly head as a metastasis in another part of their body. And it is deemed OK. But is it OK for someone who "dodged the bullet" to wonder if it really is not going to happen? It has struck in a straight line from my paternal great-grandmother, grandmother and then my father. Every one of my family members who opted to be tested for the BRCA gene mutation, has tested positive. It seems to run very strong in our family, even one of my dad's cousins died from ovarian cancer. Our chances are higher than the average person's of developing cancer. The average woman's chance of developing breast cancer is one in 8. As my son just asked me, "Does that mean if you lined up 64 women, 8 of them would have cancer?" More than likely yes.

Because I carry the BRCA2 genetic mutation, my son has a 50% chance he will carry it too. He is now 18 and can make the choice himself to test or not. He has indicated that he wants to. But before he does, I will make sure he has genetic counseling at Fox Chase Cancer Center which is where we were all tested at the Dyson Family Risk Assessment Program (FRAP). I am the only female in my generation and my niece is the only one in hers. She is way too young to be tested yet. I feel guilt over this as well, that I may have passed the gene on to my son and perhaps my brother on to his children.

As I ramble on, I am reminded of the last line of the tile on the wall in the last segment, "Hope for the future." This needs to slowly replace my doubts and concerns. I will never stop helping to Spread the Word and Save a Life through FORCE. Men and women both need to be aware of their family history. Get genetic counseling to see whether or not there is a need for testing and if there is, listen to what they have to say. Better yet, take your significant other or friend to help absorb what you hear. Because like in the "Lily" segment of the movie, sometimes you don't hear the doctor and you need that support to help you! And remember FORCE is here too,!

Thank you to the directors and producers who made this movie with taste and warmth!

The wall as shown in the last segment, "Pearl".

Love and hugs,

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Instead of Buying PINK This Month...Consider This!

I know that there are many companies that have PINK merchandise and with the proceeds, there are Breast Cancer avenues that are funded.  I am up to my eyeballs in Pink! There is a veritable sea of PINK stuff out there starting in August, revs up in September and goes full tilt in October. Although it is agreed to be a "girly" color, I think over the years, I have had enough. And to top that off, my own father passed away after a valiant battle with Breast Cancer and I know he would rather have had another color to designate the disease.Yes, men get breast cancer but this fodder for another blog post!

Wonder how many of the other survivors feel the same way. Fortunately, FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered supports both Ovarian and Breast Cancer so we have the offset with teal and pink. Thank goodness! 

But imagine what good the monies used to buy the pink duck slippers, or pink mouse, or pink alarm pad and many other accessories and clothing, was to be donated instead of lining the purses of the big corporations. 

FORCE has broken down where the funds go within the organization. I myself have benefited from a scholarship to the Annual JoiningFORCE's Conference twice. Please review the list and head to the link above as well as below the list, to send what your heart moves you.

Through monies donated by corporations and individuals, the following can be done:

$1,000 delivers the latest in BRCA research and information to 500 families.

$500 gives 60,000 visitors access to our website for one month.

$300 provides a scholarship to our conference to one person that could not otherwise attend.

$200 provides life-saving information to 100 people through our newsletter.

$100 provides phone-based support and resources via our Helpline for one month.

$50 provides a package of informational brochures to doctors offices and hospitals.

Donations to FORCE are tax-deductible. 100% of the funds go to the organization to continue our mission. Many companies will also match donations made by their employees.

Please ask your employer if your company has a matching gifts policy. 


Once again, here is the link to the donation page:

I appreciate any and all you can do!

Love and hugs,


Get Involved with GoodSearch

Get Involved with GoodSearch:

'via Blog this'

This is going to be the easiest thing we’ve ever asked you to do! To date, $149.89 has been raised! 
We just signed up with and now every time you shop online or search the Internet, a donation will be made to FORCE - Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (Tampa FL)
Here’s how: works with more than 2,500 stores (including Target, Apple, Petsmart etc..) and every time you purchase something, a percentage will be donated to us! And, even more exciting, GoodShop also offers over 100,000 of the most up-to-date coupons and free shipping offers so you can save money at the same time. It’s win win.
GoodSearch is a Yahoo powered search engine which makes a donation to us each time you do a search.
Join the rest of our community in using these sites to help us easily raise money for our mission. Get started by clicking the “Become a Supporter” button on our profile page here!

As always, for information, support and where to meet your local FORCE members go to!
The local Philadelphia, PA Outreach Fan Page on Facebook:

Visit and click "LIKE"! Also follow us via Twitter:

Thank you for helping raise much needed funds throughout the year!
Love and hugs,

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hereditary Cancer and Cancer Genetics

Hereditary Cancer and Cancer Genetics:

'via Blog this'

This week is being celebrated as National HBOC (Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer) Week. Additionally, today especially is Previvor Day. This has so much significance to me personally and to all those who are affected by these cancers in their family. The definition of Previvor: (n) A survivor of a predisposition (or increased risk) for a disease such as cancer.  I am a Previvor and grateful for the chance to be here to participate in the week and the day itself.

Today is also the beginning of Rosh Hashana, quite literally, the head of the year. It is the beginning of the Jewish New Year, 5772 by the Jewish calendar. I am very proud of my Jewish Heritage and this is a time of year for family and reflection. It is said that God reviews our lives between now and 11 days on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. While we as Jews confess our sins of the past year, we ask God to forgive us and inscribe us in the Book of Life for the coming year. I have many items to check off on my list, I am not a perfect person after all, and hope God can see the way clear to forgive me.

So what ties HBOC Week to the High Holidays? Being of Ashkenazi descent and my immediate ancestors are from Eastern Europe gives me a greater chance of inheriting one of the three founder genes that increase my risk of Breast or Ovarian cancer. This is not to say those out there of similar lineage are at similar risk, after all, one needs to be tested and that is why I posted the link at the beginning of my blog. There are certain signs that if you have them in your family, should point you to visit with a Genetics Counselor and get started asking about genetic testing.

Statistics show that ethnic groups such as Ashkenazi Jews, French Canadians, African Americans, those of Norwegian descent have a higher risk of carrying either the BRCA 1 or 2 genetic mutation. My risk was one in 40 to be carrying the mutation. This is 10 times the chance of someone in the general public. Additionally, 40% of Jewish women with ovarian or fallopian tube cancer will carry one of the BRCA mutations and 20% of Jewish women with breast cancer the same.

Remember, that this is not related at all to the gene that determines your sex, so these genetic mutations can be passed on from either side of the family since you get one BRCA gene from each parent. My BRCA2 mutation that I carry came from my father's side, he had breast cancer as did his mother and grandmother. One 1st cousin also had ovarian cancer and that is what lead to our testing as a family. If this is the case or similar, please get to a genetic counselor. If you cannot locate one, the National Society of Genetics Counselors ( has a look-up tool to help locate one in your area. They are an integral part in helping you all through this journey. I have to say, I have spoken to 3 different counselors along the way from 3 different hospitals through FORCE events and my own experiences. Each had so much input and assistance to help me as well as my family. They explained genetic counseling, help understand the family history and how it relates to you and point you toward resources and tools.

One more aspect of Rosh Hashana is Change. As in the secular New Year, we make resolutions. My changes to make for the coming year are several fold. I want to earn more money so we are more self-reliant. I want to try and be healthier. I want to learn more to do at work and cross train. I want to volunteer more with FORCE and spread the word about hereditary cancer to save more lives.

I pray that I can accomplish these things and with God's help and my determination I will!

L'Shana Tovah Tikateiv Veteichateim, A Sweet New Year and May You be Inscribed in the Book of Life.

Love and hugs,

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Review of Roku HD Player

Originally submitted at Roku

The new HD, with built-in wireless, delivers top value in high-definition streaming.

I love my ROKU

By beth1225 from Willow Grove, PA on 9/12/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Great value, Reliability, Built in Wi-Fi, Easy to set up, Video selection, Compact, Easy to use, High quality picture

Best Uses: Kitchen, Bedroom

Describe Yourself: Netflix fan, Home entertainment enthusiast, Movie buff, Technophile, Early adopter

I am very please with my Roku HD. As a matter of fact, it is our second one we own, just got it today. I was able to cut back expenses on our Verizon FiOS account with being able to have the channels on Roku. Love it!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Teal Toes and the Silent Whisperer

September is among other things, Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  People across the world are celebrating and marking it in many different ways.  Some are painting their toes teal and there are lists of various manufacturers who will donate back if you buy their polish.  Here is a list of some companies who are helping to support Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) as posted on the website,

Diamond Cosmetics -- They have just come out with their newest shade "Don't Teal My Heart Away" and are donating 25 cents per bottle sold to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

Barielle's new Wildflower Collection donates all proceeds to OCRF.  Purchase directly fromOCRF's store.  See Beauty Judy's shots of this collection.

Priti Polish is supporting Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month with their Tulip Tree Teal.  They are donating 10% to Nancy's List.

Karma Organic Spa is also carrying the "Don't Teal My Heart Away" and donating 20% toNOCC.

In order to express support of Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week (HBOC), suggest to paint a pink ribbon on top of your teal toes to support those with BRCA gene mutations!

There are teal silicone bracelets to wear, teal ribbons in a variety of styles, bumper stickers...all things are available these days as they are for other Causes.

One of the utmost things to remember is that Ovarian Cancer is a "silent killer". Many women do not know they have it until they are at Stage 3 when most hope for remission is a low percentage. Many times, symptoms of other diseases are akin to those of OVCA. and your GP may not attribute them to the right thing. Sometimes the symptoms of bloating and unrelieved gas pains sends you to a GI specialist instead of your GYN. Even pain with intercourse may be overlooked or ignored because of the embarrassment women can feel.

The above symptoms NEED to be mentioned to your GYN.  If you are at high risk due to family history or carrying the BRCA genetic mutation, insist on the CA-125 blood test every year!  Although this is not the very best of detection devices, it takes some of the guesswork out.

Along with the blood work,  the wonderful (I am being sooo sarcastic here) trans-vaginal ultrasound is a must. Yes, it can be extremely humiliating if you have never had one before and if the technician is totally in-compassionate, you need to steel yourself to go back the following year and the year after and so on. This test may find growths or possible malignancies and lead to finding out how severe or inconsequential they may be. Without the test, you are asking to flip a coin and decide which can be even more detrimental to your health.

If you or someone you know complains of any of the symptoms I described above, please get to a medical professional. Better to test and breathe easy that it is nothing. 

Remember, Ovarian Cancer is stealthy, it is termed the "silent killer" for a very good reason.


Please remember I am not a doctor or medical professional. If you EVER have any symptoms or problems, PLEASE see your health care provider ASAP!

Love and hugs,

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Biochemistry and Life-brca1.pptx - Microsoft PowerPoint Web App

Biochemistry and Life-brca1.pptx - Microsoft PowerPoint Web App:

'via Blog this'

A friend and fellow BRCA Sister, Helen Smith, developed this Power Point presentation.

It is a very easy-to-understand format about genetic mutation and what carrying the BRCA mutation means to her and her journey.

We know that the two genetic mutations, BRCA 1 and 2, will increase risk of developing Breast and/or Ovarian cancers in their lifetime. There are many options available in current medicine beginning with increased surveillance to major surgeries.

With this presentation, perhaps more women and men will be able to make a better informed decision. As always. FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, is there as a font of information and support for those carrying the genetic mutation as well as those with a strong family history of these cancers. Go to for webinars, local outreach groups and much more!

Love and hugs,

Monday, August 29, 2011

National HBOC Week 9/25-10/2/2011

Click on the above link to learn more about what this event means!

In 2010, history was made with FORCE’s successful effort to pass a Congressional resolution declaring the first-ever National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Week and National Previvor Day.

The goal of HBOC Week and Previvor Day is to raise awareness about hereditary cancer. HBOC Week marks the transition between National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and recognizes anyone affected by hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, including women and men with BRCA mutations, people with a family history of cancer, breast and ovarian cancer survivors, and previvors, individuals who carry a strong predisposition to cancer but have not developed the disease.

An estimated three-quarters of a million Americans carry an inherited BRCA mutation but nearly 90% of these individuals don’t know about their risk. National HBOC Week and Previvor Day aim to help change that. And, it all starts with a celebration; please join us

Monday, August 22, 2011

HUP Breast and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Conference

HUP Breast and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Conference

I am reaching out to a few friends and colleagues on a fundraising effort to help FORCE, a national nonprofit focused on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (support, outreach, testing, research, legislation, etc.) that has become extremely important to my family. FORCE has over 70 outreach groups nationwide, including a very active organization here in Philadelphia. See for more info.

Most of you are involved with many charitable causes individually or as a company, but we wanted to inform you about FORCE’s mission to help reduce the risk of cancer and save lives. A woman who carries a BRCA mutation has up to an 87% risk of breast cancer and a 50% risk or ovarian cancer – versus 12% and 2% respectively for the general population without the mutation. For men, increased risk of melanoma, prostate and pancreatic cancer have also been associated with these mutations. I carry the BRCA2 gene mutation and FORCE was there for me with information and unconditional support.

FORCE is sponsoring 3 Breast and Ovarian Cancer conferences with Abramson’s Cancer Center (HUP) on Friday, October 28, 2011 to help bring awareness to our community. The attachment outlines the event and the benefits of the sponsorship. I am hoping you will consider sponsoring or providing a donation of any size to help. Through awareness and education, the people who carry the BRCA gene mutation can take steps to prevent cancer from continuing to impact future generations. Today, an estimated 90% of those people do not know they carry this gene mutation. We want families to pass down recipes, photos and memories to the next generation, not the risk of cancer. Please help FORCE and my family achieve this goal.

Thanks so much for your consideration.

Beth Cohen Pfeiffer, Social Media Coordinator

The following letters explain about sponsorship. If you cannot print them out from here, please send me an email and I will forward them to you!

Dear Prospective Donor,

Did you know that approximately one million Americans carry a cancer-causing gene mutation that puts them at high risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC)

FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, is the only national nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting HBOC (Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer) by providing lifesaving information, resources, and support through its programs.

To help raise awareness about HBOC, FORCE is planning a very special event during Abramson Cancer Center’s (Hospital of the University of PA) Breast, Ovarian & High Risk Cancer Conferences on October 28, 2011 at the Hilton Hotel on City Avenue in Philadelphia. A heart-felt Passing of the Torch ceremony will be held at the conclusion of these conferences with all attendees present where a flame will be passed from an ovarian cancer survivor to a breast cancer survivor. This marks the transition from Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (September) to Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October). It also highlights the hereditary link between breast and ovarian cancer, honors cancer survivors and those at high-risk (previvors), remembers those whose lives have been lost to cancer, and recognizes families that have been affected by cancer. The conference includes topics related to Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, and Women with High Risk.

How can YOU help? Become a SPONSOR for the event or simply make a donation!

Please select a sponsorship level on the enclosed sheet or make a donation in any amount and join us in our mission to raise awareness of HBOC. Together we can make a difference in the quality of life of many individuals and families during their HBOC journey.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact Kat Kline at 267-252-9949 or We would be very excited to have you as a partner in our mission.


Amy Dysart, Mary Kraft, Diane Rose, Kat Kline, Annette Ramke, Stacey Jacobson,

Beth Cohen, Social Media Coordinator

Philadelphia Outreach Coordinators

Sponsorships are tax deductible as recognized by the 501(C)(3) IRS regulations. Checks should be made payable to: FORCE. Send checks to: FORCE c/o Kat Kline 201 Green Street, unit 4B, Philadelphia, PA 19123.


There are several ways you or your sponsorship can help the HBOC cause and contribute to making the Passing of the Torch Ceremony a big success!

Sponsorship Levels:


  • Recognition of your company or individual name in the conference flyer handed out to all attendees.


Recognition of your company and contact information or individual name in the conference flyer handed out to all attendees.

Recognition of company or individual name on FORCE’s local Facebook Page and in our monthly newsletter.


Recognition of your company and contact information or individual name in the conference flyer handed out to all attendees.

Recognition of company or individual name on:

  1. FORCE’s website through the end of the year.
  2. FORCE Philadelphia’s Facebook page
  3. Monthly newsletter
  4. Will pass out business cards/flyers or brochures at our support meetings throughout the end of the year.

Donations of any amount would be greatly appreciated.

. Checks should be made payable to: FORCE. Send checks to: FORCE c/o Kat Kline 201 Green Street, unit 4B, Philadelphia, PA 19123.

Passing of the Torch

University of Pennsylvania

Sponsorship Contract

Please Print

Sponsor Name:______________________________________________________________

Contact Name:_______________________________________________________________



City, State, Zip_______________________________________________________________

Email address:_______________________________________________________________

Phone:_______________________________ FAX: ________________________________

Authorized Signature:_________________________________


Sponsorship Amount: ___________________ Donation Amount: _______________

Sponsors needed by September 19, 2011

Brief description of company or services:

Questions and Comments

FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, is very excited to have you as a partner. Your sponsorship will help FORCE in its mission to fight hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Sponsorships are tax deductible as recognized by the 501(C)(3) IRS regulations.

Checks should be made payable to: FORCE. Send checks to: FORCE c/o Kat Kline 201 Green Street, unit 4B, Philadelphia, PA 19123.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Spirit of Empowerment: A family gives back « Thoughts from FORCE

Spirit of Empowerment: A family gives back

Every Charity needs funds to run. Not every person who is affected by what the group supports can afford to give back monetarily. Some of these people take what they need and are never heard from again and that is fine. The main thrust of a charity is to help those in need. In order to help more people, more money is needed. It is a fiscal fact. Some, like me, give back by actions and deeds; I volunteer my time and energy whenever I can.

Then there are a wonderful family who has given back by establishing a Scholarship Fund and Project to aid those in need. The Brenda L. Caplan Memorial Fund was started by her daughter Dara Marius and husband, Myron Caplan. The Butterfly Project was created by Molly Marius with help from her mother Dara for Molly's Bat Mitzvah project in conjunction with the Scholarship to continue to add to it and extend its influence. Through these two funds, FORCE was able to bring 75 people to this year's Annual Joining FORCE's Conference. Below are excerpts from Dara's acceptance speech:

In accepting this award today, I would like to take a few moments to share with everyone here how FORCE has impacted our lives, and what this project has meant to our family.

Like so many in this room, our family’s lives have been irretrievably affected by hereditary cancer. I am BRCA 1 positive. My mother, Brenda, had both breast and ovarian cancer. Her half-sister died in her 30’s of breast cancer. My grandmother had bilateral breast cancer. Even my non-biological aunt, is BRCA 2 positive. In short, hereditary cancer– or the risk of it–is everywhere we look in our family.

The good news, however, is that with each generation the options become exponentially better. When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, no one suggested genetic testing to her despite her young age and strong family history. Had my mom been tested, and had her ovaries been removed, maybe her outcome could have been different.

But it is not just the prevalence of genetic testing that makes me optimistic. We now have treatments specifically tailored to the genetic make-up of a tumor. We have researchers who develop studies that seek to understand our unique population from both a treatment and prevention perspective.

Along with these important advances, in my mind, the broadest and most influential generational change for our community relates to the creation of FORCE and the passion of its members. Through FORCE, women and men affected by hereditary cancer find support, friendship, inspiration and most of all, knowledge. FORCE gives us unparalleled opportunities to acquire information and to find compassion and identity. FORCE is at the forefront of political leadership on issues and laws which affect the legal rights of our community.

Looking around this room, I know that we all have very individual and personal reasons for attending this conference. Some of us are previvors. We know or suspect we have a genetic mutation, and we come to this conference to understand our prevention and surveillance options. Others here are fighting hereditary cancer with bravery and dignity, and they seek knowledge of cutting edge treatment options available to eradicate their disease. Some are here professionally as doctors, researchers, geneticists, nutritionists, and counselors who help us treat, and prevent hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. And, finally, I can see the family members and friends—those who have the very difficult job of standing on the sidelines, watching and caring.

We all come together for different reasons. Yet, I believe we share one fundamental unifying belief. None of us here views ourselves as victims. Whether we have cancer, or a genetic predisposition, whether we care for or treat someone with hereditary cancer issues, we are all of us empowered. We cannot control our genes, but we can control how we respond to the hand life has dealt us. Instead of victims of chance genetic circumstance, we are people committed to helping each other and the generations yet to come.

For my family, this commitment and our desire to give back to the organization that personally helped me so much, led to the creation ofThe Butterfly Project. What started out as Molly’s idea to help people affected by hereditary cancer, rapidly grew into a namesake memorial fund for my mom and an ongoing scholarship program to provide monetary support to FORCE members who could not otherwise afford to attend this Conference.

Finally, for those of you who are somewhat new to FORCE, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. When you joined FORCE, you also took your place in a chain of people.

Dara's speech

"For those of you who are somewhat new to FORCE, I'm going to let you in on a little secret."

Right now you may have one hand extended forward holding on to the hands of those who have walked this road before you. I am here to tell you that those people will hold your hand tight. They will keep you steady, and they will help you navigate the winding road over the mountains that seem so large. And, one day before you know it, you will cross those mountains and reach a beautiful valley. And when you arrive, your other arm will automatically reach back and grab on to those behind you, who you will now help. Because that is how it is done in FORCE. That is how we face our risk of cancer—we face it empowered as a community. On behalf of everyone who empowered the Butterfly Project, we thank you very much for this award and support!

Dara, Molly, and Myron