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Advocate Spotlight

Ann Hernick – Cincinnati, OH
My daughter was 11 years old when I have diagnosed with breast cancer 12 years ago, at the age of 41. I wanted to become involved in meaningful ways to better understand the causes of the disease and to focus on its prevention. I did not want my daughter to have to face a breast cancer diagnosis. This is one of the reasons why I became so involved with the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers (BCERC). These Centers are investigating environmental factors that may influence mammary gland development. There is a laboratory and a human study associated with these Centers. The epidemiology work involved following 6-7-year-old girls as they entered puberty.

My background was in business management, and I knew if I wanted to become an effective breast cancer advocate I needed to learn more about the science of the disease. NBCC has given me the tools to understand more about research and science, and also how our political system works. I have attended most NBCC Annual Conferences over the past 12 years and served as a panel moderator and speaker in 2009. Project LEAD was a huge help to me with my involvement with BCERC. I continue to learn by reading postings from LEAD grads online, participating in LEAD grads webinars, reading related research articles and attending conferences related to breast cancer.

I am most proud of the work that I have done to communicate research results back to girls participating in BCERC studies and their parents. In 2007, we informed them about an unexpected biomarker result that we found in a subset of our study population. This experience led to me being the lead author of a peer-reviewed manuscript titled Sharing Unexpected Biomarker Results with Study Participants that was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

I have served as the President of the Breast Cancer Alliance of Greater Cincinnati twice, an organization on the NBCC Board of Directors. I have also served on the Steering Committee of the Breast Cancer Fund of Ohio (Ohio’s breast cancer license plate) and coordinate the Breast Health Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati. I have served as a peer reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and for the California Breast Cancer Research Program. I am a 2010 graduate of the Research Advocacy Network Focus on Research program and have attended the annual meeting for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) as a scholarship recipient from the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation.

My daughter is now 24 years old and I sadly know that her generation will continue to live in a world with breast cancer. I am deeply concerned that we have made so little progress, however, I am energized by the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Breast Cancer Deadline 2020 campaign and the strategy behind this deadline. I believe it can be done if we remain focused on the right questions.