The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 1, 2011

RANDY GRIFFITH | Research, treatment advances bring new hope in cancer fight

Randy Griffith

— A major discovery in national breast cancer research and continuing expansion of local programs have made it a good year for those at risk for breast cancer or already fighting the disease.

Those developments made work on this year’s special edition even more rewarding, as I heard about advances that allow women to have less surgery, with fewer side effects and reduced long-term conditions.

The colorful, 32-page edition, “Hoping, Healing and Living,” will be published with Sunday’s newspaper, launching The Tribune-

Democrat’s monthlong Breast Cancer Awareness project.

Stories in the special section cover all aspects of breast cancer early detection, treatment and follow-up care.

 I interviewed doctors and other professionals at hospitals across the region. These local programs are providing some of the most cutting-edge medical care available when it comes to identifying and eradicating breast cancer.

Perhaps even more encouraging is work that has Windber Research Institute collaborating with cancer groups across the nation to map out DNA fingerprints of various cancers.

Their success will open the door to a myriad of targeted treatment possibilities.

Two things struck me this year that have always been a part of the October Breast Cancer Awareness project: The commitment and compassion of local medical professionals working with cancer patients, and the patients’ resilience as they embrace life beyond breast cancer.

Both are illustrated in videos produced as part of the project.

One is already live at

The other goes online with the publication of the special edition on Sunday.

Another exciting thing about October is seeing how the community and nation have taken on the breast cancer mission.

From high schools to nursing homes, there are pink ribbon campaigns everywhere. Many are included in the calendar published as part of the special section and throughout the month.

There will be additional stories and features on breast cancer survivors, others still fighting the disease and those working with patients. Many of these stories celebrate the renewed life available to cancer patients, thanks to medical advances and local caregivers.

Some will feature videos of that celebration of life, as part of The Tribune-Democrat’s expanded Internet features at

“Hoping, Healing and Living” reflects that celebration of life, which is also captured in a unique event, debuting Friday at the Arcadia Performing Arts, Graham Avenue, Windber.

“Semblance of Hope” is a locally written play, detailed by our features writer Tom Lavis in Sunday’s special edition. It will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8 and 2 p.m.

Oct. 9, in partnership with Windber Research Institute.

A special red-carpet entrance will greet those brought to the theater from the research institute’s Pink Tie Affair, which precedes Saturday’s show.

But mostly, October is about prevention. Hospitals across the region are putting out the word and reaching into communities with the message that breast cancer can be cured with early detection in many cases.

Conemaugh Health System’s screening series kicks off at

6 p.m. Tuesday at the Ebensburg Care Center on Jamesway Road. Additional screenings will be held in Hastings, Richland, Ligonier and Johnstown.

Although the special section is wrapped up and many of the profile subjects have been identified, Breast Cancer Awareness project is very fluid and continues to develop through the month. Feel free to contact me or the news department with ideas for stories, especially those stories of life beyond breast cancer.

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