Mary Jo Kahn is no stranger to breast cancer. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39 and died of it eight years later. In 1989, when Mary Jo was 39, she found her own breast cancer. While she was in the hospital undergoing a mastectomy, her sister, Judi Ellis, was diagnosed. She was 41. This led two more of their sisters to have prophylactic mastectomies in their mid-30's.

Mary Jo remembered, “When my mother was diagnosed in the 60’s, the words breast and cancer were almost never said in public and people whispered them in private. Twenty years later, some things had changed. Cancer could be discussed in the open, even breasts could be, but breast cancer was still whispered as if it were something embarrassing to have. Meanwhile, the lifetime risk of having the disease had risen steadily from 1 in 20 when my mother was diagnosed to 1 in 9 when my sister and I were diagnosed in 1989. Even with this startling rise in incidence, there was no press coverage; there was no public outcry, there was no special outlay of research money to combat this disease. Breast cancer was a silent epidemic.”

This was about to change in a big way.

Medicaid Expansion
The VA General Assembly adjourned last month without an agreement on the 2018-2020 biennial budget. The primary sticking point is Medicaid Expansion one of VBCF's legislative priorities for 2018. The Senate opposed expansion and the House supported it - but only with significant reforms to the program like a work requirement. A special session on the budget will begin on April 11th. Governor Northam proposed a budget on March 21st that included “clean” Medicaid expansion, meaning without work requirements. Lawmakers need to agree on a budget by July 1st or face a government shutdown. Stay tuned to VBCF’s Facebook page for the latest.
Genetic Testing: What You Should Know
The company 23andMe just received FDA approval to send consumers a genetic test for breast cancer they can do at home (we shared an editorial about it on Facebook ). There is a lot of conversation and controversy around this decision, so we are going to break it down for you in our Spring print newsletter, coming soon. If you are not yet signed up to receive the newsletter, use the button below to subscribe.
Virginia State Cancer Plan for 2018-2022 Released!
The Cancer Action Coalition of Virginia (CACV) has just released the state cancer plan for the next five years. VBCF is a member of CACV, and Erin Steigleder, VBCF’s Education Manager, was on the plan committee and is now serving on the CACV Board. The plan is available online to view or download. VBCF is excited to begin working on the objectives and strategies with our CACV partners!
Breast Cancer Survivor Research Survey
Chloe Martin and Danyella Greene are doctoral students at Howard University. Their dissertations are examining health-related thoughts, feelings, and emotions in breast cancer survivors through a survey research study. They are currently recruiting breast cancer survivors to participate in their study which involves completing a 20-30 minute questionnaire online. The eligibility requirements include being a woman who has:

  • Received a diagnosis of local or regional breast cancer
  • Completed treatment (with the exception of hormonal therapy)
  • Has no history of recurrence or any other form of cancer

Upon submission of the survey, participants will be entered into a raffle with a chance to win one of four $50 gift cards. Interested participants can email Danyella at to be screened for eligibility and provided with the online link.
New Clinical Trials Matching Service
Driver, a new cancer treatment management online fee service, has just launched an invite-only Beta Program for the VBCF community. Driver is a first-in-kind consumer platform that connects cancer patients to the world’s largest and most current inventory of treatments. Own your records and your unique clinical history, manage your care, and, if needed, request a second opinion or access the world’s largest inventory of cancer treatments. They are not only giving our community early access, but also would like feedback about their messaging and services as well as any other insights that you’d like to share with them. To learn more, please visit:
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