HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 1, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Pennsylvania's First Lady Susan Corbett was joined by former First Ladies Michele Ridge and Ellen Casey in an historic gathering kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the PA Breast Cancer Coalition. Part of the day's festivities included "COLOR IT PINK" that turned The State Capitol Fountain's water pink for the month of October to remind all women of the importance of good breast health and the need for self exams, medical check-ups and mammograms. Over the years, the pink fountain has also become a beacon of hope for the hundreds of thousands of survivors across the Commonwealth that one day a cure will be found through research, thanks to the extraordinary support of the Governor and First Lady's Offices and Department of General Services.
"With one in eight U.S. women getting breast cancer annually, even in our family, it is a privilege to join my esteemed colleagues to raise awareness and remind women and families across Pennsylvania of the importance of mammograms and early detection," said Mrs. Corbett. "Tom and I know all too well the devastating impact this disease can have on the entire family and we recognize the critical need for additional research to eradicate breast cancer," she added.
Also offering support to the PBCC 20th Anniversary Celebration kick off today are former First Lady Kathy Schweiker who was unable to attend, Department of General Services Secretary Sheri Phillips, and Leslie Anne Miller and Leslie Stiles who served as PBCC honorary chairs during the Rendell Administration.
"What an honor it is, and has been, working so closely with such talented, committed First Ladies and State leaders to fight this disease and truly offer hope and healing to survivors and families for nearly 20 years now, " said PBCC Founder and President Pat Halpin-Murphy.
"Because 32 women each day in Pennsylvania will receive a breast cancer diagnosis, I am extremely proud that our collaborative efforts statewide have allowed the PBCC to touch so many lives and achieve this momentous milestone. Jointly, we have accomplished great victories for women and families while raising vital funding for research and enhancing outreach and education programs all across Pennsylvania," added Halpin-Murphy.
For nearly 20 years, Pennsylvania's First Ladies or their cabinet level designees have served as Honorary Chairs of the only statewide non-profit organization of its kind, the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, starting with Mrs. Casey. Their leadership critically aided in helping women attain better treatment, health insurance coverage and significantly raised awareness about this deadly disease that takes approximately 2,000 PA lives each year. Today marks the first time Pennsylvania's First Ladies gathered together to once again provide their support and visibility to educate women on the importance of early detection, as part of the PBCC 20th Anniversary Kick-Off. Launching its anniversary celebration today, the PBCC will continue its commemorations throughout the coming year with the culmination of special events during Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2013.
"I applaud Mrs. Corbett, Mrs. Casey and Mrs. Schweiker along with the Rendell Administration and the PBCC and its valuable grassroots partners statewide for devoting such energy, determination and resources into the fight against breast cancer in Pennsylvania," said Mrs. Ridge. "Together, we have fought to further preserve our precious families. Tom and I applaud the PBCC for their diligence to advance this meaningful cause."
Each day, 32 women in Pennsylvania are diagnosed with breast cancer. Each year, more than 12,000 Pennsylvania women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. The PBCC's mission is to help find a cure for breast cancer and to improve the quality of breast cancer education, research, programming and outreach in the state.
The PA Breast Cancer Coalition represents, supports and serves breast cancer survivors and their families in Pennsylvania through educational programming, legislative advocacy and breast cancer research grants. The PBCC is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure now…so our daughters won't have to. For more information, please call 800-377-8828 or visit www.PABreastCancer.org.
(Listing of tentative PBCC 20th anniversary events planned to date & major PBCC accomplishments follows)
PA BREAST CANCER COALITION ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
Today, PBCC offers wonderful services and programs statewide and hosts important events for women and families:
- Free treatment & full medical coverage online course & seminars, patient resources, support groups
- One-of-a-kind statewide conference attracting 1,000 attendees (government and business leaders, medical professionals, survivors, lobbyists, advocates and more) offering cutting-edge research, education, medical seminars and the Pink Ribbon Award luncheon
- Friends Like Me care packages to all newly diagnosed women
- Refunds for Research - Income Tax Check off for breast & cervical cancer - PBCC has raised nearly $3 million to date and awarded "gap" money to Penn State Hershey Medical Center's cutting-edge research that was publicized last Fall offering promising cure
- 67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania traveling photo exhibit -- local communities host this as an education and awareness tool (funded by the PA Department of Health)
- Thousands of Grassroots partners in every county across the state
- Take a Swing Against Breast Cancer® Home Run Derby events at minor league baseball stadiums across PA raising local awareness & resources
- "Color it Pink" at State Capitol Fountain each Fall - raises awareness during month of October
- Funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control in 2006, PBCC wrote and published with Dr. Linda Rhoades, "Breast Cancer: Covered or Not" a guide on health insurance through which Halpin-Murphy became an advocate statewide for women who are uninsured or underinsured for breast cancer treatment. It's now in its 2nd printing and has won the prestigious Nonprofit Innovation Award from the Central PA Business Journal.
- FrontLine newsletter and PinkLink e-newsletter distributed statewide
The following important laws & regulations were enacted thanks to the advocacy efforts of PBCC supporters, administrations and dedicated lawmakers:
**Breast and Cervical Cancer Research Act
Bill signed into law by Gov. Ridge in May 1997 & Introduced by Rep.Katie True in October, 1995
- Allows everyone in Pennsylvania to designate all or part of their state income tax refund for breast cancer research
- Every penny raised goes directly to cancer centers/research facilities in Pennsylvania
**Breast Cancer Reconstructive Surgery Coverage Act
Bill signed into law by Gov. Ridge in October 1997 & Introduced by Sen. Joseph Uliana, Sen. Edwin Holl, and Rep. Dennis O'Brien
- Provides mandatory insurance coverage for a 48-hour hospital stay and related breast reconstruction following a mastectomy
- Provides for opposite breast reconstruction for symmetry, and requires home health care visits for mastectomy patients discharged before 48 hours
- Provides protection to women who need time to recover from the trauma of major surgery
**Extension of Medicaid for breast cancer treatment
Effective January 1, 2002 & Executive Order by Gov. Ridge in June, 2001
- Extends the state's Medicaid coverage to uninsured women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer through the Centers for Disease Control's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.
- Covers any other medical needs through the period of treatment
- Entitles qualified women to immediate free treatment paid for through Medicaid
- Guarantees coverage to women in PA of their full treatment costs through Pennsylvania's Medicaid program
- Covers the expenses of patients with breast and cervical cancer whose incomes are too high to meet the traditional guidelines for Medicaid, a federal-state health coverage program
**Act 81 of 2002 - No time limit on reconstructive surgery
Effective June 28, 2002 & Introduced by: Sen. Edwin Holl and Rep. George Kenney
Previous legislation passed in 1997 required insurers to cover the cost of reconstructive surgery after mastectomy and symmetry for the opposite breast within 6 years.
- Removes the 6-year time limit on mandatory insurance coverage for reconstructive surgery following mastectomy
- Directs that all healthcare policies also cover physical complications from breast cancer, including lymphedema and provides for prosthetics
**Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Screening Act
Bill signed into law by Governor Rendell November, 2005 & Introduced by Representative George Kenney
- Establishes the Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Screening Program within the PA Department of Health
- Provides for breast and cervical cancer screening services for women 40 to 49 years of age whose income does not exceed 250% of the federal poverty level and who have no health insurance coverage for screening mammograms, clinical breast examinations, pap tests and pelvic examinations
October 1st "Color it Pink" at the State Capitol Fountain with First Lady Susan Corbett along with Former PA First Ladies & Honorary Chairs
11:00a.m., Commonwealth Avenue
October 9th "Turning Awareness into Action" PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference
7:00a.m. – 3:30p.m., Harrisburg Hilton
May 7th A Mother's Day Celebration featuring 67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in PA, traveling photo exhibit* and the release of a special PBCC publication (exhibit will be open at the State Capitol May 7- 17)
10:30a.m., State Capitol Main Rotunda
June Special "Pink Rose" Dedication
July Take a Swing Against Breast Cancer® Home Run Derby events
Professional ballparks across PA
October "Color it Pink" at the State Capitol
Commonwealth Avenue Fountain
October 14th "Pink Party"
Harrisburg Hilton, PA Ballroom
October 15th "Power of Pink" PA Breast Cancer Coalition Conference with Special Keynote Speaker. The PBCC will honor influential breast cancer activists & offer educational workshops and exhibits
* Other exhibit locations to be announced
** Refunds for Research events to be announced
Digital Communications Director
The PA Breast Cancer Coalition represents supports and serves breast cancer survivors and their families in Pennsylvania through educational programming, legislative advocacy and breast cancer research grants. The PBCC is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a cure now…so our daughters won't have to. For more information, please call 800-377-8828 or visit www.PABreastCancer.org.
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