Good Life

Pink Zone supports new position at Mount Nittany Medical Center

Pink Zone at Penn State promotes cancer awareness and empowers survivors through year-round efforts to raise funds critical in supporting vital breast cancer organizations, charities and facilities that focus on breast cancer education, prevention, diagnosis, research and treatment.

As such, Pink Zone at Penn State has selected six deserving beneficiaries that will help to carry out that mission statement.

The Pink Zone at Penn State supports Mount Nittany Medical Center, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition, Kay Yow Cancer Fund, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital.

After using previous Pink Zone funding to open the Penn State Lady Lion Basketball Cancer Resource Center at Mount Nittany Medical Center’s Shaner Cancer Pavilion and to purchase a breast specimen imager, Mount Nittany will use this year’s Pink Zone monies to fund a five-year position for a breast health navigator.

The hospital has selected Angelique Cygan, a registered nurse, to fill this position. She will lead efforts for breast-health navigation, education and outreach.

Cygan is someone who can help remove the many barriers patients may experience in receiving timely and well-coordinated care. The purpose of this position is to decrease fragmentation of care, coordinate services and guide patients seeking breast care through the health care system. This will allow for continuity of care and reassurance to the patient as they go through the diagnosis and treatment process on their journey to survivorship.

“The amazing year-round fundraising efforts of the Pink Zone at Penn State have allowed us to create a new position for a breast health navigator,” said Aileen Galley, cancer program administrative director.

“Thanks to the partnership between the Pink Zone, Lady Lion basketball and Mount Nittany Health, women and men in our local community have the support they need to navigate through early detection, treatment and survivorship with breast cancer.”

“Essentially, I am an advocate for our patients,” Cygan said. “People facing breast cancer need a strong support system, especially on the clinical front, because it’s usually all new territory for them. I act as an educator, consultant and liaison, helping patients navigate their way through treatment decisions and beyond.”

Through past Pink Zone at Penn State funds, the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute activated the Lady Lion Basketball Breast Cancer Research Endowment. The monies from this year’s Pink Zone will continue to increase the endowment level of the fund.

Funds from the Lady Lion Basketball Breast Cancer Research Endowment have been used to support the research efforts of Karam E. El-Bayoumy in the department of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Penn State College of Medicine; Andrea Manni in the Penn State Hershey endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism program; and Jack Vanden Heuvel, a professor of molecular toxicology in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Their research focuses on testing a novel approach to breast cancer prevention by combining lower doses of antiestrogens with a healthy diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

This strategy maximizes safety, because antiestrogens at lower doses may be less toxic and a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids would be expected to have other health benefits in addition to protection from breast cancer.

Based on the mechanisms of interaction between omega-3 fatty acids and antiestrogens, the prediction is that such intervention will reduce the development of both hormone dependent and independent tumors.

Kristina Petersen is associate director of athletic communications at Penn State. Follow her on Twitter @ladylionsid.