RISE Advocates

RISE Advocates

RISE advocates are an exclusive group within our volunteer structure that will represent YSC at external conferences, scientific discussions and participate on review boards for research.


RISE Class of 2017

Caroline Abi-Khattar

Caroline Abi-Khattar

Caroline is honored and thrilled to serve as a RISE Advocate. She hopes to use her role to help increase awareness of breast cancer among young women and to advocate on behalf of other young survivors, two issues about which she is very passionate. Caroline graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with a B.S. in Foreign Service and went on to earn a J.D. cum laude from the Georgetown University Law Center. She has worked as an associate in the corporate law departments of two major law firms, as an attorney in the office of the general counsel of a publicly-traded software company and as an advisor to start-up companies. She is looking forward to bringing her years of legal experience to her role as an advocate on behalf of young survivors. Caroline is a coordinator of her local YSC Face 2 Face networking group and splits her time between the Philadelphia-area and Washington, D.C.

Elizabeth Brannen

Elizabeth Brannen

Elizabeth was a full-time working mom to three kids under the age of 5 when she noticed a small lump in her right breast. Since she was still nursing her twelve-month-old son, she initially thought it was a clogged milk duct. Thankfully her husband encouraged her to see a doctor to get it checked out. She was diagnosed a short time later at the age of 31 with stage I Triple Positive (ER+, PR+, HER2+) invasive ductal carcinoma. Following diagnosis, she found Young Survival Coalition online and ordered the Newly Diagnosed Treatment Navigator. Elizabeth attended the annual YSC summit and was blessed to have a supportive husband, family, friends, and faith community to help her through treatment and beyond. She has since shared her survivor story by speaking at events at the hospital where she was treated, as well as in the community. She also co-founded her local YSC F2F support group. Her biggest take-away from being diagnosed with cancer at a young age is that you have to be your own advocate. If you feel something isn’t right, speak up and be persistent. She is excited to be a YSC RISE advocate and to help other young survivors. Elizabeth lives in Florida with her husband and three children.

Jen Campisano

Jen Campisano

In August 2011, at the age of 32, Jen was diagnosed with stage four, metastatic breast cancer (ER+, PR+, Her2neu+). She had been married less than 3 years, was a new mom, and her infant son was just five months old. One of the first places she turned for support was YSC’s online network, to which she was referred by a friend’s cousin. Here were women who understood the challenges of managing cancer treatment, a career, and sleep-training a baby. For 4.5 years, Jen was treated aggressively for her cancer, which responded exceptionally well to targeted therapies and chemo alike. Between October 2013 and March 2016, she had No Evidence of Disease, the holy grail for metastatic patients. Then, in the spring of 2016, a skin biopsy indicated an autoimmune disease called sarcoidosis and a PET/CT scan revealed multiple spots of concern. As a follow-up, Jen had a lung biopsy. The results came back showing not cancer, but rather: more sarcoidosis. Further testing also showed no cancer. At the end of 2016, Jen was officially restaged to Stage II breast cancer plus an autoimmune disease that can mimic metastases on scans and is treated with steroids, which had routinely been part of her chemo pre-meds. Today, she shows no signs of either disease, but will always carry the experience of living with “mets” for the first 5 years of her son’s life. A lawyer and former lobbyist, Jen writes about navigating the intersection of motherhood and cancer-land at www.boobyandthebeast.com. She has also written for The Huffington Post, ScaryMommy.com, Women’s Health Online, Women You Should Know, Cancer Knowledge Network, Rage Against the Minivan, and others. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her nearly 6-year-old son and her husband.

Lindsay Gafford

Lindsay Gafford

Lindsay was diagnosed for the first time in 2009 at the age of 21, in her senior year of college with no family history. Years later, at the age of 28, her cancer returned again. This time it had metastasized to her bones and lungs. Lindsay has experienced firsthand how lonely it can be to go through treatment as a young person. It wasn't until 2014 that she became acquainted with YSC and discovered that she had been missing out! She started attending Face 2 Face meetings and more recently she rode in her first Tour de Pink, raising over $12,000 for YSC programs. It is her mission to educate people about Stage IV and to help young women in need connect to YSC. Lindsay grew up in Minnesota and now lives in New Jersey working for an environmental non-profit organization. She can't live without coffee, sunshine, nature, or her chemotherapy drugs.

Latasha Greer

Latasha Greer

Latasha is from Detroit Michigan, a wife and mother to three beautiful children ages 3, 12, and 15. She’s been married for four years. In the summer of 2015 while on a family vacation she received a phone call and was given the news that she had breast cancer at the age of 34. She was diagnosed with stage 2 triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma Once diagnosed she was fortunate to find the face to face Michigan chapter and have been involved with the amazing women ever since. Latasha decided that opening a non-profit organization would be perfect to help so many other women like me and once getting involved as a Rise advocate would help her help women know that there is life during and after cancer and to not give up. Also to be able to help educate others in her community which is in the urban area and with younger women because no one speaks about cancer. She knows being an advocate will help her reach so many women. Her motto: “You are a caterpillar transforming slowly into a beautiful butterfly, who gets to have a new outlook on the world and see it through different eyes!”

Decca Knight

Decca Knight

In 2009, at the age of 32, Decca was diagnosed with stage 3C breast cancer. As a young cancer patient living in a medium sized city in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, Decca felt isolated. Decca’s one-year old son, husband, family, and friends were great supports but every cancer patient she encountered was much older. She therefore made it her mission to connect and advocate for young survivors. Decca became involved in numerous organizations including the Reach to Recovery program with the American Cancer Society, the local Susan G. Komen affiliate and YSC. Since then Decca has started a Face 2 Face YSC Network in her town, has become the President Elect on the board of her local Komen Affiliate, has attended numerous Komen and YSC conferences, and has been accepted into the Komen Advocates in Science program. In her everyday life, Decca is a child counselor and owner of Blue Ridge Parenting and Connected Child Consulting. She lives in an apple orchard in the mountains and loves spending time traveling, enjoying the outdoors, exercising, playing with her son, going on dates with her husband, and hanging out with family.

Heather LaBruna

Heather LaBruna

Heather had been a health writer covering topics such as breast cancer for more than a decade when she learned of her own diagnosis in 2013. It wasn’t a surprise—she was the fourth known women on her father’s side of the family to be diagnosed, though at age 36, she was by far the youngest. Faced with bilateral breast cancer and a BRCA2-positive status, Heather set out to learn all she could about her reconstruction options, what treatment would entail for her early stage breast cancer, what having a genetic mutation meant exactly, and how all of this might impact her young family. She used her writing background to her advantage, chronicling her experience through the DIEP breast reconstruction process, chemotherapy, and survivorship via her blog, BreakingBreastCancer.blogspot.com, with the goal of helping women see what to expect on their own journey. Around this time, she also became the unofficial go-to person in her community for young women who were diagnosed (“Hey, I know this woman you should talk to…”). That’s when she realized: There were many women like her out there. With cancer always at the back of her mind, she decided to take her activism a step further, becoming a state leader for Young Survival Coalition and fundraising for the organization through Tour de Pink. Heather’s excited to go even further with YSC’s RISE program and once again use her writing background and scientific research and analysis skills to help young women diagnosed with breast cancer fight for research funding—and a cure.

Tanessa Noll

Tanessa Noll

Tanessa Noll was diagnosed with ER/PR+ breast cancer in 2014, after her first mammogram at age 40. Through a patient navigator, she learned about YSC. Tanessa attended the YSC Summit in Houston in 2015 and completed Project LEAD later that year. In 2016, Tanessa served as a cancer ambassador to Peru with A Fresh Chapter. She volunteers as a grant writer and serves on the board of Hands on Personal Empowerment (HOPE), a non-profit that teaches gardening and life skills to teens. She holds a BA in Communications and an MA in Teaching. She lives in Shelton, Washington with her husband and two sons.



Kelly Walborn

Kelly Walborn

Kelly Walborn is a three time survivor of breast cancer. First diagnosed at age 37, she suffered recurrences at 38 and 41, and lost count at nine surgeries. She served on a panel at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in 2010 to help newly diagnosed cancer patients navigate the medical system. Determined to help other women navigate the journey through breast cancer, over the past six years she has also served as a certified counselor with ACS Research to Recovery Program and as a forum moderator for Young Survival Coalition.org.. In addition, Kelly has served as a patient advocate for the ACS in 2015 at the IOM Workshop on Imaging, and in 2016 at the ACOG Breast Cancer Screening Consensus Conference. She also serves as a Hospice volunteer and trainer for other volunteers, and has certified therapy dogs which she brings to those in need of love and companionship. She has been cancer-free for four years and counting. Kelly earned her MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2009, while undergoing treatment. She has been involved in software development for over twenty years, most recently at a small but forward thinking startup company which was recently acquired by 3M due to their innovative developments in healthcare information technology. Kelly lives with her husband, two step sons, and three dogs in Ghent, NY. She enjoys quilting, singing and playing music with her family and riding her motorcycle.

Amy Wu

Amy Wu

Amy Wu is a professional journalist and a young breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed with aggressive DCIS at age 37 and treated. She is a state leader for YSC in California and the social media manager for National Asian Breast Cancer Initiative. She is a young advocate with Living Beyond Breast Cancer and sits on the XRAYS panel – a project that examines breast cancer media coverage - for Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE). She hopes to use media and social media as a platform in increasing awareness and advocacy for young women and breast cancer, especially those in underserved communities. Amy is a first generation Chinese American and is a native New Yorker. She works for Gannett Co. and has reported for Time magazine, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle and written for The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She majored in history at NYU and earned her masters’ degree in journalism from Columbia University. She speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese. She is also an avid swimmer and completed the 28.5 mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim as a relay in 2010.


2016 Cohort

Laura D'Allesandro

Laura D'Allesandro

RISE Advocate

Laura was becoming a successful photographer and professor at a college outside of New Orleans when she first discovered a lump in her breast and that she was pregnant. She and her husband left everything behind and moved to Cleveland, where her family lives, and for the high quality of health care in Northeast Ohio. While in treatment, Laura realized the differences and difficulties facing young women diagnosed with breast cancer. She started a local YSC F2F network to address the concerns of young survivors, as well as to provide resources and support. The group meets monthly for lectures and information, which she facilitates. The F2F also meets monthly at a social venue, to relax with other young women who “get it.” Laura also researches retreats, financial resources and other opportunities for breast cancer survivors that she sends out in a newsletter. She is a YSC State Leader and still feels the need to do more. Laura is a graduate of NBCC’s Project LEAD and is interested becoming more aware of additional advocacy resources and opportunities. She is very excited and honored to be a part of RISE, and to see where this next path of advocacy will take her.

Allison Eng-Perez

Allison Eng-Perez

RISE Advocate

Allison currently serves as the Higher Education Sector Leader for Deloitte. She studied International Relations at Tufts University, she holds a BA from the University of Michigan focused on International Business, along with an MBA from the University of Florida focused on Finance and Entrepreneurship. Allison is a YSC State Leader and serves on the University of Florida MBA Advisory Board, FIU College of Medicine Advisory Board and the Key Biscayne Education Advisory Board.
She dedicates her life to her family first and her passion for education and healthcare second. She believes that every child deserves an opportunity for a great education and every person deserves great healthcare. She is a proud mother of two beautiful little boys, a breast cancer survivor, an advocate for education and healthcare and a consummate professional and community servant. 

Michele Hille

Michele Hille

RISE Advocate

Michele Hille is going on two years as a young survivor. She lives in Dallas, TX with her husband and two wonderful dogs, Verner and McKinley. In 2014, at 40 years old, she was diagnosed with ER/PR positive invasive ductal carcinoma in her right breast. Her treatment plan included surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy and she also developed lymphedema. Besides her family, YSC was the single most important resource through her diagnosis, treatment, and beyond.  .
RISE perfectly aligns with her background and all that she wants to do to support young women. Michele holds a BS in biology, an MS in education, and was certified to teach secondary math and science. Her first job out of college was coordinating NIMH sponsored research and currently, she works in the pharmaceutical field as a District Sales Manager. These experiences give her a strong foundation of science knowledge, research, healthcare, physician perspectives, and leadership skills to help the inaugural RISE group achieve great things. 

Amanda Hynum

Amanda Hynum

RISE Advocate

Amanda Hynum was diagnosed with stage 2 invasive HER2+ breast cancer in 2013 at the age of 30. Eventually she learned she carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene and a variation in the BRCA2 gene. Her personal experiences with breast cancer have led her to become a fierce advocate for education and awareness issues, including focusing on science to guide treatments rather than alternative therapies. In the short time since her diagnosis, Amanda has modeled for the lingerie line Ana Ono, which specializes in post-breast cancer surgery undergarments and loungewear, was a graduate of 2015 Project LEAD, and served as a Coordinator for The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Walk With Love. She participated in the TV show "Skin Wars", representing YSC. She is active within the YSC community, the Athletes 4 Cancer community, has volunteered for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and is very grateful to have recently attended the SABCS as an Alamo Scholar. She is incredibly excited to be one of the very first patient advocates for RISE! Amanda is currently NED. She recently got her Phlebotomy certification through UCLA, and plans to study nursing in the near future. She is Canadian, and lives in Southern California with her husband and stepson.

Jen Linares

Jen Linares

RISE Advocate

Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 at the age of 29, with 3 young children, Jen learned firsthand how difficult it can be to navigate through the health care system and how important it is to be your own advocate. Within a month of diagnosis she had found out that her cancer had metastasized and was in her bones, leaving her to have to fight to even receive treatment. After overcoming the grim prognosis, Jen made it a lifelong mission to be an advocate and a voice in the pursuit of finding the causes, prevention, and to truly make a difference in the mission to end breast cancer.  

Jen has dedicated her time and efforts to many different organizations including YSC as a State Leader in Illinois for the past 3 years as well as assisting with the F2F groups. She is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s (NBCC) Project LEAD, an intensive course for advocates on the basic science of breast cancer and on advocacy issues. Jen has also been involved with Susan G Komen since diagnosis as a patient advocate, speaking on multiple occasions, and a peer reviewer for the past 2 years. She is very excited to continue to grow as an advocate and be able to have her voice heard through science, research, and policy with the amazing opportunity that YSC is providing.

Diane

Diane

RISE Advocate

Diane was diagnosed at age 38, when her children were 3 and 5 years old. Within days of her diagnosis, Diane realized the importance of being her own advocate. She has been actively involved with her local YSC F2F group since its inception in 2015. Now she is looking forward to giving back as a member of the RISE program.

Diane graduated summa cum laude from the University of Delaware with bachelor’s degrees in accounting and business administration. She earned her MBA with distinction from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. Diane worked in brand management for Johnson & Johnson, Newell Rubbermaid, and JP Morgan Chase prior to leaving the workforce to raise her two boys. 

Kate Petrides

Kate Petrides

RISE Advocate

Now residing in Jersey City, NJ, Kate was living in Washington, DC when she was diagnosed in July 2012 with stage IIb breast cancer (ER+, PR+, Her2neu+) at the age of 25. Treated by a team of doctors across institutions, and to whom she remains ever grateful, she completed 1.5 years of active treatment - including a neoadjuvant chemotherapy clinical trial, double mastectomy, radiation and one year of Herceptin - on January 31, 2014. Today, she continues to receive maintenance hormone therapy with ovarian suppression and an aromatase inhibitor. Always the youngest patient in oncology waiting rooms and with few sources of support, it did not take long for her to learn the necessity of advocating for one’s self and the impact an empowered patient is able to have on their care. It also did not take long to become frustrated by the poorer survival outcomes in the young women’s patient population, as well as by lack of resources aimed at young adult patients. Now two years out from active treatment, she strives to become an empowered voice for young women living with breast cancer and to intensely advocate for what she believes to be the only way to change the outcomes of this disease: more research.  

Kate’s personal connection with YSC runs deep, and she is returning to where, in a way, her post-cancer life began. Overwhelmed and isolated, YSC’s website was her first indication that she was not alone; there were other young women who had heard those ill-fated words. And it was attending her first (of many) YSC happy hours that she was gifted a deep sense of connection and camaraderie. In these meetings, surrounded by other young women with shared experiences, encouraging words of advice, room to safely share and feel, and insights that could not be gleaned in books or the words of my doctors, the power of a community to effect change became evident. Kate is very excited and honored to be able to join nine other young women in YSC’s first RISE cohort so that we may learn to effectively advocate with and on behalf of all young women affected by this disease.

Rebecca Seago-Coyle

Rebecca Seago-Coyle

RISE Advocate

Rebecca Seago-Coyle is an active advocate for breast cancer research. She began advocating for breast cancer patients and breast cancer research after her own breast cancer diagnosis in 2010 at the age of 35. With a strong family history of breast cancer in her family, it has sparked her to advocate for breast cancer research specifically for young women who are newly diagnosed.  Outside of her advocating role, she is a wife, project manager, marathon runner, cyclist, and yogi. It’s important to Rebecca to inspire others live a healthy lifestyle. 

Dana Stewart

Dana Stewart

RISE Advocate

Dana is a five year breast cancer survivor, diagnosed in 2010 with Stage 1, ER+ at the age of 32. She went through a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy and hormone therapy. Young Survival Coalition was the first place she turned to find support. She was surprised and relieved to find others just like her. The organization was the lighthouse on the cancer road Dana had been looking for. Dana has been a YSC State Leader for Illinois for the last three years and one of the things that she has loved the most is helping others who are going down the path she once walked.

Dana is interested in being an advocate because it is one aspect of breast cancer I don’t know as much about. She has been a leader in support groups, she has attended conferences and been an exhibitor for YSC, but she hasn’t had the opportunity yet to learn the science behind breast cancer. She is passionate about advocating and fighting for young women. She has found her purpose in volunteering and her goal is to continue learning and making a difference. Her hope is that one day the cancer path that she walked, along with so many others before and, will eventually be paved over and unrecognizable.

Sherri Waldvogel

Sherri Waldvogel

RISE Advocate

Sherri was diagnosed in 2006 at the age of 39. She not only had cancer in both breasts, but each was different. She had both triple negative and Her2+ cancers. Sherri had a bilateral mastectomy with sentinel node dissection, luckily there wasn't any node involvement. Chemo and Herceptin followed, as well as reconstruction after she was done with treatment.

Since her diagnosis, treatment and recovery she has been involved in many different organizations supporting women affected by breast cancer including YSC, NBCC and Imerman's Angels. She had her first taste of advocacy when she traveled to Washington DC to lobby on Capitol Hill. Sherri’s twin daughters were 9 when she was diagnosed and are now in their first year of college. She is committed to doing what she can to stop our daughters, mothers, and sisters from having to go through what we have. I am thrilled to be part of the YSC RISE program.


Legacy Advocates

Carole Baas

Carole Baas

RISE Advocate

Dr. Carole Baas became a cancer advocate following her diagnosis with breast cancer in 2004 after the birth of her second child. Carole is a YSC RISE Legacy Advocate and participated in YSC’s Research Think Tank, serving on the Pregnancy Associated Breast Cancer Working Group. She is also an Advocate in Science with Susan G. Komen; a member of the External Advisory Board for the Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern; a patient advocate for the Breast and the Experimental Imaging Sciences Committees for ECOG-ACRIN, which is part of the National Clinical Trials Network; and a member of the Institutional Review Board at Baylor Research Institute in Dallas, Texas.

Carole also represents the patient voice as one of the four founding editors of the scientific journal Convergent Science Physical Oncology, which focuses on how experimental and theoretical science contributes to a better understanding of cancer complexity and to the development of more effective diagnostic and treatment strategies.

Previously Carole served as the national advocate for the NCI’s Physical Sciences-Oncology program, an innovative effort to encourage collaboration between physical scientists/engineers and cancer biologists/oncologists to generate novel methods to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Drawing upon her background in research and academia as well as from her personal experience with cancer—Carole has a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Texas A&M University—she worked with cross–disciplinary teams at 12 different Centers across the U.S. to develop a comprehensive advocacy program. Currently, in the second phase of the NCI program, she is an advocate with the Houston Methodist Research Institute Physical Sciences in Oncology Center.

Carole is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD (2008) and Project LEAD Clinical Trials (2010). She regularly participates as an advocate reviewer for the DoD Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, PCORI and Komen.

Sandra Finestone

Sandra Finestone

RISE Advocate

Sandra (Sandy) Finestone, Psy.D., is a 30 year breast cancer survivor and research advocate who has been a volunteer for Susan G. Komen for over 25 years. Sandy is the Past President and Treasurer of the Susan G. Komen Inland Empire Affiliate, Past President and Race Chair of the Orange County Affiliate and serves on the Advocates in Science (AIS) Steering Committee and chairs the AIS Training Working Group.

A long-time advocate, Dr. Finestone organized a support group for husbands of breast cancer survivors. She also founded the Orange County Breast Cancer Coalition and opened the Hope Wellness Center to meet the needs of breast cancer survivors. Her advocacy knows no borders; in 2009, Dr. Finestone went to Jordan to facilitate a meeting that taught healthcare providers about support groups for women with breast cancer, and later that year, returned to the middle-east to train women in Kuwait and Egypt about support groups. She has been recognized for her work, receiving the 2002 National Komen Outstanding Volunteer of the Year for Lifetime Achievement.  She is currently on the steering committee of Komen Advocates in Science and serves as the chair of the Education and Training Working Group. Dr. Finestone reviews research grants for Komen as well as the Department of Defense, Cochrane, Avon, PCORI and the states of New York and California. She is an Ambassador for PCORI. She has a private therapy practice with a focus on cancer patients and their families and facilitates support groups for women with cancer as well as women dealing with metastatic disease. Her young women’s group is in collaboration with the Young Survival Coalition.

Leslie Hammersmith

Leslie Hammersmith

RISE Advocate

Leslie Hammersmith is Assistant Dean for Technology Enhanced Education at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. She has over 18 years of experience in higher education and faculty development in educational technologies. An 8-year breast cancer survivor diagnosed at the age of 36, Leslie is a graduate of several well-known Cancer Research Advocacy programs including Project LEAD, Research Advocacy Network, AACR Scientist Survivor Program, Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups, NCCTG, and DOD Breast Cancer Center of Excellence Research Advocate Mentor Program. She has held patient advocate roles with Carle Cancer Center in Urbana, IL and works closely with Young Survival Coalition on many cancer research projects, such as serving as a steering committee member of the ABOUT Network and participating in the YSC Research Think Tank. In 2009 Leslie co-founded the Champaign-Urbana Affiliate of Young Survival Coalition and continues to be active in YSC Face2Face Networking in her community.

Andrea Hutton

Andrea Hutton

RISE Advocate

Andrea Hutton is a critically acclaimed author, speaker and breast cancer survivor. Her work on breast cancer and women’s wellness has been featured in such varied outlets as:The Washington Post, Women’s Health and Psychology Today. As a breast cancer survivor, and advocate who has “been there, had that” Andrea Hutton is on a mission to empower and educate women on how to take charge of their own health.

A graduate of Duke University, Andrea Hutton was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 at the age of forty-one and is now a critically acclaimed author, speaker and wellness expert. Her work on breast cancer and women’s wellness has been featured in such varied outlets as: The Washington Post, Women’s Health and Psychology Today. As a breast cancer survivor, and advocate who has “been there, had that” Andrea Hutton is on a mission to empower and educate women on how to take charge of their own health. Andrea is now five years out and cancer-free. She lives in Santa Barbara, California with her husband, two children and two dogs and when she's not writing, she can often be found walking on the beach collecting sea glass.

Tracy Leduc

Tracy Leduc

RISE Advocate

Tracy E. Leduc was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2006, and she began her advocacy work in 2008 when she attended her first National Breast Cancer Coalition Advocacy Conference. She is a 2010 graduate of NBCC's Project LEAD Institute, served as a Project LEAD mentor in 2015, is an NBCC Florida Team Leader, and served as an alternate on the NBCC Board of Directors from 2013 to 2015. She was an advocate member of the Young Survival Coalition Research Think Tank, and she presented posters arising out of the RTT work at the 2014 AACR Annual Conference and the 2014 Academy of Oncology Nurse and Patient Navigators Conference. Tracy has served as a consumer reviewer for the Breast Cancer Research Program administered by the Department of Defense since 2010. She regularly attends scientific conferences, including the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and the AACR Annual Meeting. She is also the education and advocacy chair for Viva Las Chicas, a St. Petersburg-based grass roots organization that provides education and outreach concerning women's health in general and breast cancer in particular, as well as direct, in-kind support to women and their families who are undergoing treatment for cancer.

In her "spare" time, Tracy works full-time as a staff attorney on Florida's Second District Court of Appeals, and she is training to ride in the Inaugural YSC Tour de Pink South. She received her J.D., magna cum laude, from Stetson University College of Law, and her B.A. in English from the College of William and Mary. 

Dr. Marisa Leonardell

Dr. Marisa Leonardell

RISE Advocate

Dr. Marisa Leonardelli was diagnosed with Stage 2a, triple positive breast cancer in October 2017 at the age of 35. She discovered the cancer on her own and did not hesitate to seek follow up with a medical provider. However, many women do not recognize the possibility of being diagnosed with breast cancer at such a young age. Because of this, it has become Marisa’s mission to be a part of the movement to educate young women on the importance of early detection, to advance knowledge medically, to advocate for research, to work toward a cure, and to offer support to those in treatment.

Outside of her career and involvement in cancer-related activities, Marisa stays busy with her family, which includes her three children that were ages 7, 5, and 2 at the time of her diagnosis. She enjoys traveling, exercising, reading, and aspiring to live a healthier lifestyle post cancer.

After graduating from medical school, Marisa quickly transitioned into the world of clinical research as a physician investigator. She has nearly a decade of experience running early phase research studies and believes strongly in the importance of advancing medical treatment options. She credits the discovery of immunotherapy for her-2 positive cancers as instrumental in her care and future, and she hopes that other critical drugs like this will continue to be discovered.

Sueann Mark

Sueann Mark

RISE Advocate

Sueann was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34. After finishing treatment, she dedicated herself to breast cancer advocacy by volunteering with YSC, including representing YSC on the board of the California Association of Breast Cancer Organizations and as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. She is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project® LEAD advocate training and brings the perspective of young women with breast cancer to her work with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Bay Area Breast Science Advocacy Core.

Inspired by the excellent nursing care she received during her cancer treatment, Sueann went back to school to become an oncology nurse. Sueann received her nursing education at UCSF and is currently finishing her Masters work in the Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist program there, were she is also completing minors in Genomics and Palliative Care. Her Masters thesis is focused on predictors of sleep disturbance in patients undergoing chemotherapy. She is a recipient of the American Cancer Society Graduate Scholarship in Cancer Nursing Practice and an Oncology Nursing Society Foundation Scholarship.

Ann Marie Potter

Ann Marie Potter

RISE Advocate

Ann Marie Potter began volunteering for YSC in 2004 to support her sister riding in the Tour de Pink. In 2005, at the age of 38 she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. At the time of diagnosis her children were 11 months, 2 years and 3 years of age. YSC became a place to connect with other women with small children dealing with breast cancer. At the YSC annual conference in 2007, Ann Marie learned about the role of advocates in research. In 2009 she attended the NBCC’s Project LEAD Workshop and in 2010 completed the Project LEAD institute. She served as the Chair of the Quality of Life work group for the YSC Research Think Tank and has served as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Breast Cancer Research Program.

Ann Marie is a full time Lecturer in the Occupational Therapy Department at Elizabethtown College. In this role, she shifted her research agenda to focus on breast cancer survivorship. She has led graduate research projects looking at the role change after breast cancer and the impact of breast cancer on cognition, activities and participation. Her research has been presented at the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association and American Occupational Therapy Association Conferences. Research on the impact of metastatic breast cancer on activities and participation was presented at the 2nd Advanced Breast Cancer Consensus Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Inspired by Project Lead, Ann Marie enrolled in a PhD program in Health Related Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University. She is currently a doctoral candidate completing her dissertation: The Impact of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer on Cognition and Functional Performance: A comparative analysis of survey data take a three time points post-treatment.

Erin Price Schabert

Erin Price Schabert

RISE Advocate

Erin was diagnosed in 2010 at age 27 with invasive ER/PR+, Her2- ductal carcinoma breast cancer and received neoadjuvant chemotherapy, a unilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, and Tamoxifen. Shortly after her diagnosis, she made a pledge to myself that she would not let cancer take anything away from her, but she would take everything she possibly could from the cancer experience. Since then, she’s worked to keep that pledge by becoming an active member of the Washington, DC cancer community. Her ultimate goal is to advocate for and provide support to young adults diagnosed with cancer so that they can access resources sooner and do not feel alone. Erin works in Development and as a trained Integrative Patient Navigator at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, a DC based cancer support organization.  She helped to establish the DC Young Adult Cancer Community and is passionate about helping to grow this support network. Erin serves as the Survivorship and Palliative Care Action Team Co-Chair of DC Cancer Action Partnership’s leadership team.

Erin is a YSC State Leader and the co-coordinator of YSC’s DC Metro monthly Face-to-Face Support group. In July 2013, she graduated from the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD and have served as a Consumer Grant Reviewer for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. Erin is pursuing her Masters in Social Work at the Catholic University of America and hopes to grow her career in oncology support and counseling. She is a native Virginian and resides with her incredible husband Ben in Alexandria, VA.

Medha Deoras Sutliff

Medha Deoras Sutliff, M.S.

RISE Advocate
Director, Scientific Affairs, National Breast Cancer Coalition

Medha is a two-time young breast cancer survivor--both diagnoses under the age of 40. She graduated from the Ohio State University with her master’s degree in Preventive Medicine/Public Health, and began her professional career at the Ohio Department of Health as a Senior Epidemiologist in disease surveillance. After her 2nd breast cancer diagnosis her focus turned to the breast cancer non-profit world and she began training as an advocate with Komen, Young Survival Coalition (YSC) and NBCC. In 2012, Medha joined the staff of YSC as Senior Regional Manager. In 2017 she moved to position with FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, as their Director, Education & Research. In March of 2018, she joined the staff of NBCC as their Director, Scientific Affairs.

Medha is a NBCC Project LEAD graduate, DOD BCRP consumer grants reviewer and a 2017 graduate of the AACR Scientist-Survivor program. She has also attended the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and the NBCC Advocate Leadership Summit and Lobby Day multiple times as Team Leader for Ohio. Medha was recognized nationally for her volunteer and advocacy work as a KIDS II/Bright Starts Pink Power Mom and in 2017 received the NBCC Grassroots Advocate Award. She lives near Columbus, Ohio with her husband Gary and their four children.

Desirée A. H. Walker

Desirée A. H. Walker

RISE Advocate
Survivor Extraordinaire!
Two-Time Breast Cancer Victor, Health Educator, Cancer Patient Advocate and Support Group Facilitator

At the age of 38, Desirée was diagnosed with breast cancer, which recurred at age 47. For many who have had to fight breast cancer, she functions as an advocate for patients by openly speaking about her diagnosis to audiences nationally. The core of her message is to encourage patients to truly know their body and feel empowered to steward self, mind, body and soul.  Her diagnosis has created many opportunities to share her talents and aid diverse communities. It has provided her with a platform to be a voice for the voiceless through advocacy and give back by educating and empowering people internationally. Most importantly, she makes time to “smell the roses,” enjoys spending time with family and friends, baking gourmet bread pudding, traveling, attending concerts, cultural programs and sporting events.

She acts as a lobbyist, is a member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) and a graduate of Project LEAD. As a patient advocate, she’s attended:  ASCO’s Breast Cancer Symposium, the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation’s Advocacy Program at San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), American Association for Cancer Research's Scientist-Survivor Program (AACR S-SP) at their Annual Mtg. and Rally and the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, the European School of Oncology’s (ESO) Advanced Breast Cancer 2 (ABC2), Breast Cancer in Young Women (BCY2) and Advanced Breast Cancer 3 (ABC3) Conferences, American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Annual Mtg. (ASCO), Society of Integrative Oncology’s Conference (SIO) and Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program (BCERP). Desirée is a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense's Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (DoD CDMRP) and a patient reviewer for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  She serves on Young Survival Coalition’s (YSC) Board of Directors and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women (ACBCYW).