Influential breast cancer advocates awarded scholarships for San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

December 10, 2008

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, December 10, 2008 - The HER2 Support Group, an organization dedicated solely to supporting women with HER2 breast cancer, announced today the recipients of a prestigious scholarship. Along with the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF), the HER2 Support Group selected Heather Gilbert of Lakeforest, California, and Gayla Little of Fair Oaks, Indiana, to attend the ABCF Advocate Program. This forum brings the participants together with physicians to discuss the latest in breast cancer research and clinical trials in conjunction with the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) December 10 -14 in San Antonio. The ABCF Advocate Program and the SACBS allow the advocates access to information to be shared with their respective organizations.

For the last 11 years, the ABCF has provided scholarships for breast cancer advocates to attend the annual SABCS as well as the organization's Advocate Program, giving the participants the opportunity to interact with some of the nation's leading breast cancer experts who provide an overview of the most compelling SABCS presentations. This year, HER2 Support Group contributed to the scholarship fund using donations received in memory of member Ann-Michele Higgins who suffered from HER2 breast cancer.

For many women living with breast cancer, advocacy organizations such as the HER2 Support Group and the ABCF provide a link to others who can share in their experiences and truly understand the struggles they face. "Women all over the world are living with this disease, but so often, it's difficult to find information about new research and treatments on our own," said Christine Druther, founder of the HER2 Support Group and HER2 breast cancer survivor. "The women receiving these scholarships are truly acting as the link between research and our daily lives; what they are doing is vital to the continuation of our understanding of this disease."

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, Heather Gilbert reached out to other women through seminars and the internet where she connected with other individuals to form a volunteer group. Today, the organization Breast Cancer Solutions, has celebrated its tenth year of helping breast cancer patients face the financial stresses of having a life-threatening disease with debilitating treatment. The group pays the bills for people with breast cancer during treatment, ensuring that they are able to comply with their treatment plans. Despite a recurrence of cancer in 2004, Heather continued her volunteer work and grew the organization from a $25,000 annual budget to over $600,000 per year.

The second recipient Gayla Little was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) in 2000 and found support through two online organizations, IBC Support and the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation. She is now a member of the Foundation's Board of Directors, provides counseling to other women recently diagnosed with IBC and participates in annual meetings on the organization's behalf.

"We are delighted to have provided the funds for two such influential women to attend this year's San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium," says Kevin Higgins, husband of Ann-Michele Higgins. "To be able to participate, in a small way, in sharing such groundbreaking research and knowledge with the breast cancer community is a testament to Ann-Michele's legacy."
About the Scholarship

Funding for the ABCF Advocate Program scholarships was provided by the HER2 Support Group through donations received after the death of member Ann-Michele Higgins in October 2007. A town commissioner in Radnor, Pennsylvania, and a partner in the law firm of Rawle & Henderson in Philadelphia, Ann-Michele served as president of the Women's International Trade Association in Philadelphia where she was honored as Woman of the Year. Upon her death, Ann-Michele requested that donations be made to HER2 Support Group which she had found to be an invaluable resource and means of support throughout the progression of her disease.

About the HER2 Support Group

A one-of-a-kind advocacy organization, the HER2 Support Group is the only group in the U.S. dedicated solely to women afflicted with HER2 breast cancer. Focusing on patient support, education and empowerment, the HER2 Support Group is a critical resource for the 40,000 women diagnosed each year with HER2 breast cancer. The goal of the HER2 Support Group is to promote education by providing accessible resources to those who need it most. It aims to assist members by addressing their concerns and providing a connection to other patients as well as sources for news and current research.

Christine Druther, a HER2 breast cancer survivor who founded the group with her husband in November 2001, is adamant about getting the word out about HER2 breast cancer because she believes strongly that an informed patient is the best survivor. Because of her personal struggle with HER2 breast cancer and the fact that she lost her mother to breast cancer, Christine is devoting her life to helping others fight to overcome this devastating disease.

About the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation San Antonio

The ABCF is a non-profit organization whose purposes are to provide support and information by trained peer volunteers via the Breast Cancer Helpline, to help educate the public on the importance of early detection and breast self-exam, and to participate in community outreach programs.

About the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

For 31 years, the mission of the SABCS has been to provide state-of-the-art information on breast cancer research. From a one-day regional conference the symposium has grown to a four-day program attended by a broad international audience of academic and private researchers and physicians from over 80 countries. The symposium aims to achieve a balance of clinical, translational and basic research, providing a forum for interaction, communication and education for a broad spectrum of researchers, health professionals and those with a special interest in breast cancer.

In 2007, the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at UT Health Science Center San Antonio and the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) announced a collaboration for the future of the SABCS. The symposium has been renamed the CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

HER2 Support Group

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