Although traditionally when we think of October, we think of the myriad of colors that make up the fall foliage, in recent years it has become a month for shades of pink in honor of breast cancer awareness month as well. This is certainly true for those of us at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and UPMC CancerCenter, where breast cancer-related activities are in full swing.
Members of our breast cancer team converged in Harrisburg on October 9th for the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. This organization of grassroots supporters from around the Commonwealth has galvanized breast cancer activities in Pennsylvania for nearly 20 years, spurred by the realization that 32 Pennsylvania women die from the disease each day. We are particularly grateful for the Refunds for Research initiative that the Coalition spearheaded, allowing Commonwealth residents to donate a part of their state income tax refund to support peer-reviewed breast cancer research. Nearly 20 investigators at University of Pittsburgh have enjoyed support from this research grant program since its inception and several came to Harrisburg to thank coalition members for their efforts.
In addition, I had the great honor to be awarded the 2012 Vivian and Meyer Potamkin Award for breast cancer research and accepted this award on behalf of the many members of our Pittsburgh breast cancer team. I am donating the $10,000 award to support the research activities of our Women's Cancer Research Center.
On October 22 several of us will travel to New York City to attend the annual shoe sale event of the Fashion Footwear Association of New York (FFANY). We were thrilled to be chosen this year as one of the recipients of the proceeds from this highly successful charitable event that serves as a fundraising effort for breast cancer research. FFANY will donate $125,000 to the University of Pittsburgh breast cancer research team if we are able to raise matching funds from our community. We are well on our way and would welcome your support.
We are also so grateful for other gestures of support from our community. Players from the Pittsburgh Steelers stepped up to spend an afternoon visiting and cooking with breast cancer survivors at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. Two of our breast cancer physician-researchers, surgeon Gretchen Ahrendt, MD, and medical oncologist Shannon Puhalla, MD, represented our breast cancer team in the pregame ceremony for the annual breast cancer awareness NFL game at Heinz Field on October 7, a thrilling game won by the Steelers during the last 15 seconds. Thank you to the Pittsburgh Steelers for your unwavering support of our effort to promote breast cancer awareness nationally.
Finally, many members of our UPMC CancerCenter/UPCI team put their hidden talents to work as we filmed our first ever Pink Glove Dance Video. Organizations from around the country were invited to submit a video of their team members performing an original dance accented with pink gloves to raise breast cancer awareness and honor the many breast cancer survivors we serve. Special thanks to our celebrity participant, Steelers quarterback, Charlie Batch, who brought his special enthusiasm and style to our video, as well as all members of the UPMC/University of Pittsburgh community who gave their time and energy to this cause. An on-line vote is now in progress and the organization whose video receives the most votes will receive $10,000 to support a charity of their choice. As our recipient we have chosen “Dignity Robes”, a local non-profit organization that makes special Velcro closure robes that permit easy exposure of the appropriate body part for patients who are receiving radiotherapy for cancer. Information about how to view our video and vote for our team can be found at pinkglovedance.com. Let us strive for 100% voter participation. This is one election where you are encouraged to vote early and often and recruit your family and friends-this is clearly the month to vote pink!