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Featured Profiles

Bringing together members, scientists, and research advocates.
Click below to meet a few people, like you, who help drive progress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

My name is Doug Yee and I work as a breast cancer researcherpracticing oncologist, professor of medicine and pharmacology, cancer center director, and Scientific Advisory Committee member.

My research is focused on developing and testing new treatments for cancer. I want to understand how hormonal factors that regulate normal cells also influence cancer cells. My work has focused on insulin-like growth factors (IGF) and how insulin stimulates cancer cells to multiply and spread. My research is aimed at finding methods to inhibit growth factor receptors with targeted therapies.

My medical career started during my undergraduate career when I had a summer internship at the National Cancer Institute working with physician scientists. Upon graduating with my MD from the University of Chicago, I began my medical residency at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. This experience further solidified my interest in oncology and I completed an oncology fellowship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) where I worked in the laboratory with Drs. Marc Lippman and Neal Rosen on IGF stimulation of breast cancer cells. From this experience, I learned that application of laboratory science to the clinic, building on advances we had already made in cancer treatment, would be a path forward.

After positions at Georgetown University and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, I now serve as director of the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota. I also have a practice in breast cancer medical oncology.

Research and advocacy changed the face of breast cancer.
If you follow the history of breast cancer, you find that improvements in mortality really began when breast cancer advocates became involved. Advocates helped in two ways. First, they increased the funding for breast cancer. Second, they increased awareness allowing women and men to be their own advocates. To me, Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation is the next logical extension of breast cancer research and advocacy and I am honored to be part of it.

Participation in clinical research is the only way we can improve breast cancer outcomes. “Moving the ball” requires partnership between women and men in clinical research.

Bench to bedside: all research matters.
All forms of research can have an impact on breast cancer. Bacterial research resulted in the identification of enzymes that precisely cut DNA and founded the basis for molecular biology. Advances in computer science allowed for the ability to sequence the genome. Immunologists developed methods to clone antibodies leading to drugs like Herceptin. We must be advocates for all research as we cannot predict where the next advances will originate.

Fun fact: I am an inline skating marathoner.
While in San Antonio, I began inline skating as a way to exercise. When I moved to Minnesota, I began participating in the Northshore Inline Marathon. This course is 26.2 miles and follows the north shore of Lake Superior to Duluth. This year I completed my 17th race.

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My name is Alma and I am an avid photographer, neuroscientist, breast cancer patient, and long-term Army of Women member.

My experience with breast cancer began in June 2007, just six months after my husband and l got married in Mexico City. While we were waiting to do the immigration paperwork to come to America, he found a tiny lump in my left breast. In December we found out that l had cancer. 

We can be soldiers in this war against cancer.
I was interested in the Army of Women program because I have a background in neuroscience research, so l understand the importance of recruiting diverse and committed volunteers for studies. The first time someone shared a link from the Army of Woman, the study was recruiting for Latin women. I was so happy, because l knew how much value that was going to bring to women like me! l didn’t think twice about participating. Since then, every time l fit the criteria for a research study, l participate. I have been participating in the Army of Women for nine years now. We need clinical research to bolster the well-being of patients and families, and researchers need us to help. We can be soldiers in this war against cancer.

Moving forward for both myself and others.
I hope that one day other people will benefit from research I have participated in. I hope that researchers learn more about chemotherapy and cognitive impairments in particular so that we, as cancer patients, can understand what is happening in our bodies.

If we share our experiences, many patients and families will understand that they are not alone. We have common experiences and we can share them with researchers.

Fun fact: I am an avid nature lover.
l love flowers, gardening, listening to music, beading, knitting, and photography! I like to photograph flowers and animals in particular. I love the sound of waves, so my husband takes me to the beach every weekend, just to hear the voice of the water saying: “you are still around”.

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My name is Vernal Branch and I work as an advocate with NBCC, am a cooking enthusiast, breast cancer patient, Project LEAD graduate, and SAC advocate reviewer.

When I was invited to the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation Scientific Advisory Committee, I immediately said yes, because of Dr. Susan Love’s vision for the foundation. She has been a mentor and friend for many years, and her vision of ending breast cancer has to come, before that we need to find the causes. Also, the inclusiveness of many women and men in this effort is important, along with diversity.

I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in 1995 at the age of 45. Eight months before my diagnosis I had just moved from Texas to California, and I had some swelling in my breast, which was unusual because I was no longer was having monthly menses, because of a hysterectomy 5 years before. My mammogram and ultrasound came back negative, so my doctor took me off of the hormones which I was taking for hot flashes. After about two months, while taking a shower, I discovered a small lump in my breast, which continued to get larger after two weeks. I went in to see my doctor, and she sent to get another ultrasound that same day, and when I went back to see her within the hour, she was already setting up another appointment for me to see a surgeon. At that time, I thought I had no family members who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, but after my own diagnosis, I found several other family members who had been diagnosed on my mother’s side of the family. After surgery and treatment, I wanted to get involved with an organization to help me navigate this next phase of my life. I got involved with Y-ME national breast cancer and the National Breast Cancer Coalition. I knew that I wanted to be able to help others, but also wanted to be a part of the national worldwide conversation for advocacy. The following year, I took the NBCC Project LEAD course, and this was empowering me with knowledge and educating me on the disease, and what my advocacy could be a part of. After taking this course, I immediately became a reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. I have also reviewed grants for Komen national, and participated as an Institutional Review Board member of the Virginia Commonwealth Hospital.

Reseach advocacy, coast-to-coast. 
Research is so important for finding the unanswered questions in cancer, so in order to get those questions answered we need the funding for cancer to continue to be at the highest priority for government and non-profits. Collaborations among researchers is also paramount for research to continue.

One of the things that really excites me about research is being able to offer insightful advice to researchers when they are first developing a new research protocol. I have been able to do this with University of Virginia, California Breast Cancer Research Programs, Duke Cancer Institute, Johns Hopkins Hospital and various others for many years now. I will continue this work whether reviewing grants or working with researchers.

Fun fact: I’m an amazing cook.
However, when I was first diagnosed, my three sons were not married, but were in college and one in high school. My husband said he wanted be to be there to rock grandbabies with him one day, and now we have 7 grandchildren whom I adore and love spending time with. My time away from breast cancer activities includes me reading a good mystery or biography. I like to take walks along the lake where I live, and cooking is one of my passions, because I used to be a caterer, but now I enjoy just creating new recipes for family and friends.

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My name is Amy Compeau. I am a designer living and working in San Francisco. I joined the Army of Women in August 2018 after hosting Dr. Love at a women's conference put on by my employer.

I am also a breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer 7 years ago at the age of 30. At the time of my diagnosis, I was told by doctors at very prominent and well-respected cancer hospitals that I was not a candidate for aggressive, life-saving treatments due to the fact that my cancer had spread outside of my breast to another part of my body. As an otherwise very healthy young person, I was in disbelief. Luckily, I have medical professionals in my immediate family who knew how to help me seek additional opinions and ask the right questions. Eventually I was able to find doctors and hospitals who had different ways of thinking about advanced breast cancer, and who gave me the option to try new treatments. This process was not easy! I often felt like I had to negotiate and play the opinions of different doctors off of one another. I even had to travel out of state every couple of months for appointments and treatment. Cancer treatment was a long and arduous process, but I'm happy to say that I have had no evidence of disease for 4 years now.

Research drives new treatments and prevention strategies.
Breast cancer research is important to me because I believe it is absolutely crucial that women facing breast cancer have options when it comes to treatment and prevention. Breast cancer is a variegated disease, and there is not a one-size-fits-all treatment or prevention plan. We have a desperate need for more targeted and effective treatments, and it is imperative that those treatments are accessible to women who need them.

Fun fact: I designed the AOW 10th anniversary logo.
After meeting Dr. Love's team and joining the Army of Women, I wanted to do more to support the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. So, I offered to help with any graphic design needs that come up. Sure enough, they had a great project waiting in the wings—a refresh to the Army of Women logo to honor their 10 year anniversary. As I mentioned before, breast cancer is a variegated disease that affects women of all ages and backgrounds, and indeed the Army of Women is committed to making sure that women of all ages and backgrounds are included in research efforts. My goal with this design was to highlight and celebrate that effort.

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My name is Kimlin Ashing and I am a breast cancer researcher, book author, clinical psychologist, and scientific advisory committee member. I am Professor, Beckman Research Institute – City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center and Founding Director –Center of Community Alliance for Research and Education.

As an advocate-scientist, my work is focused on advancing population health. My research looks into how daily living context  culture, ethnicity, socio-ecological like poverty, immigration status, structural like discrimination and health systemic like access, cover and medical home contexts influence health and patient-centered outcomes, including risk, survival and survivorship, distress, symptoms, and quality of life. I apply this knowledge to design and implement interventions to improve well-being and reduce health inequities. I am also partnering with a team of scientists to understand how these daily living contexts interact with biology to influence risk and outcomes.

My academic career started at the University of Colorado, where I received my doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Over the years, I immersed myself in health research seeking to understand and address the social determinants of health with a focus on ethnic and linguistic minorities and low-income populations and cancer. My cancer research training began at UCLA with support from the National Cancer Institute. I have served on scientific and advisory councils to several organizations — including the American Association for Cancer Researchers, American Cancer Society, Latinas Contra Cancer, African-Caribbean Cancer Consortium, and the American Psychosocial Oncology Society.

Your participation reflects a selfless commitment.
Personally, as a cancer researcher, I am honoring my parents. Too early in their lives and my life, I lost both my mom and dad to cancer. I am very grateful to each person affected by cancer who has generously and sincerely shared her cancer and health journey in my studies to increase our understanding and attention to the impact of women’s cancers, especially the impact of cancer on women of color. Research participation is a very personal call. Today research participation is safe and protected with the research participant always in control – you the participant can stop at any time and ask more information so that you feel comfortable. Your participation in research reflects a selfless commitment to the health of your family, community, and society. 

Diversity is important — especially in research.
Science is the foundation of knowledge to understand health and disease. Diversity inclusion in science infuses new hypotheses and ways of tackling complex human diseases like cancer. I am committed to bringing diverse voices to the scientific table – so here I am, ready to serve!

Clinical research brings forth medical advancements and know-how to: 1) promote and protect health; and 2) prevent, detect, diagnose, treat and cure human ailments. Inclusion of diverse populations as scientists, advocates and participants is required for the applicability and utility of the medical know-how to all persons.

Fun Fact: I love being a mom.  
My happiest moments are sharing meals, travel and dancing with my children and extended family. I grew-up in rural Trinidad – so I am at heart an island girl and try to grow tropic fruits in my garden.

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My name is Jackie and I am a retired social worker and have worked for nonprofits my whole career. I started college at the age of 35 as a single mom with two young children. The beauty of that was that I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up! I did my undergrad at the University of Montana then moved to Seattle to attend graduate school at the University of Washington in 1989 and have lived here ever since.

I am grateful to have survived what one of my oncologists described as an ‘ugly’ form of breast cancer, medullary carcinoma.

Paying it forward.
I was inspired to join the Army of Women because I know that clinical trials and the development of effective drugs and interventions are the result of the many research volunteers who have gone before me.

Fun fact: I am a Master Gardener and visual artist.
I am involved with the WSU Master Gardener program in Kitsap County, WA. I volunteer in a garden where we raise food for the local food bank and run a summer activities program for children based on gardening and critters. I am the mother and stepmother of four amazing adult children, now aged 35-40. I am a grammy of four beautiful grandchildren, between 9 months and 9 years old. My happy place is my craft room where I knit and sew and nurture my inner visual artist with painting, calligraphy, drawing and experimenting with whatever medium catches my eye.

 

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My name is AnneMarie Ciccarella and I am a SAC advocate, ocean lover, and breast cancer survivor.  When I began to move into advocacy, my first volunteer role in a national organization was with Army of Women. I was thrilled and delighted to be invited to join the DSLRF SAC. I believe in the research that is done by the foundation and by the research of others that DSLRF supports. It’s a big plus that Dr. Love is so engaged with patients and has assembled a great team to move the goals of the foundation forward. I think my personal goals closely mirror the goals of the foundation so it’s a great fit for me to be involved.

Moving from patient to advocate. 

I am excited about everything that is being done in breast cancer research. I was taught to try to detach and “hover from above” so looking at the landscape from that vantage point, I appreciate that different researchers specialize in many different areas. Primary prevention is a big deal and close to my heart – I don’t want to be in my mom’s shoes with my own daughter. Quality of life in those living with no evidence of disease but still experiencing the collateral damage of the treatments that got us here is another important area. Stopping the deaths from metastatic disease is something that speaks to me. My mom is living with metastatic disease and being by my friend Lori’s side as the disease just took over and ultimately stole her from us puts that quite high on my list of priorities. If we can find a way to stop the deaths, I think those of us who live with that nagging thought of distant recurrence would have our fears set aside if we knew there were ways to stop metastasis from causing death.

Research is a partnership. You have a say. 

Participating in research does not make us “guinea pigs,” a sentiment I so frequently hear when talking to people. If there is an effective treatment for disease, there are many layers of protection in place to protect the safety of the research participants and for proper management of their disease using, at a minimum, the current standard of care. Patient reported outcomes and real-world evidence is gaining lots of momentum and that’s very exciting, too. This model values patients as partners rather than “subjects” and I think this is a shift that is long overdue! Why settle for a clunky used car when research and participating in clinical trials is offering a brand new, top of the line vehicle? 

Clinical research is the only way we are going to push the needle forward and attacking the issues by addressing the needs of the entire population is key. Different patient groups may have different expectations based upon their needs but I’ve come to learn that cancer is complex and is not one disease but many different diseases. Research, even when it doesn’t work, is providing answers that I know will one day lead us to effective management of breast cancer as a chronic condition and hopefully find ways to prevent it from ever happening. I look forward to the day that cancer will go from being the most feared word on the entire planet, to a word not even known by future generations!

Fun Fact: She'll be by the shells. 

I moved to a beach community about two years ago. The ocean has saved my sanity. I never knew there were so many shells on the beaches in New York. It’s like therapy! I walk beside the ocean year-round and I collect shells. The therapy continues when I bring them into my condo and wash them and then arrange them in glass cylinders. Suffice to say my home has many very large cylinders and bowls containing hundreds of shells, flat rocks and even some driftwood.

 

 

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