Four Earn Honors For Breast Cancer Research And Education

State Awards Recognize Impact on Lives of New Yorkers

ALBANY, NY (August 6, 2009) -- State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., today recognized three individuals and a support group as winners of the 2008 Innovation in Breast Cancer Research and Education Awards, selected by members of the New York State Breast and Cervical Cancer Detection and Education Program Advisory Council appointed by Governor David A. Paterson and the State Legislature.

The 2008 award winners are Cathy "Cat" Forsyth, client and advocate for the Southern Tier Cancer Services Program Partnership, Binghamton; Robin Grass, RN, MA of the South Nassau Communities Hospital, Oceanside; Dr. Christine B. Ambrosone of Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo; and Breast Cancer Options, Inc., Kingston.

About 14,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in New York State, and more than 2,800 die from the disease.

"The honorees demonstrate a remarkable commitment to expanding access to cancer screening and providing those diagnosed with breast cancer and their families with the highest quality of care, information and support services," Commissioner Daines said. "They embody the energetic leadership that is taking us forward to reduce the toll of breast cancer and improve the quality of life of women and men with breast cancer."

The awards are presented annually to individuals, health professionals and non-profit organizations to recognize outstanding commitment to breast cancer research and/or education which has had a significant impact on the lives of New York State residents.

Ms. Forsyth was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 by her healthcare provider while receiving screening services through the Southern Tier Cancer Services Partnership. The high quality care she received through the partnership inspired her to give back as a spokesperson. Ms. Forsyth has been interviewed on numerous local television stations and in a breast care public radio series highlighting local programs and services. Her contributions include numerous speaking engagements and media interviews.

Ms. Grass has been a nurse and nurse educator helping the medically underserved enter the healthcare system for more than 37 years. She routinely lectures at community events on topics including cancer detection, the need for annual checkups, smoking cessation, living wills and healthcare proxies. A dedicated professional, she also conducts education and outreach programs on her own time. Ms. Grass is an avid volunteer who has served on the boards of local chapters of national and local organizations throughout her career.

Since 1994, Dr. Ambrosone has conducted research on breast cancer, focusing on molecular epidemiology and the role of genetic factors in modifying relationships between reproductive, dietary and environmental exposures and cancer risk. She also explores genetic and non-genetic factors that impact prognosis after a diagnosis of cancer. Dr. Ambrosone joined the faculty of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in 2002 as a Professor of Oncology and now serves as chair of the Department of Cancer Prevention and Control.

Breast Cancer Options, Inc. is a grassroots non-profit organization incorporated in 2000 by breast cancer survivors and their supporters to extend practical and technical information, psychological support and health advocacy to meet the needs of women and men newly diagnosed or facing a diagnosis of breast cancer. Through a cadre of volunteers, mostly breast cancer survivors, they offer patients support to lessen the trauma of their experience. Through their commitment to education, support and advocacy, they help to reduce stress and improve the quality of life of breast cancer survivors throughout a five-county catchment area and beyond.

The New York State Department of Health funds breast and cervical cancer screening programs in every county and in the five boroughs of New York City to promote early detection through the Cancer Services Program Partnerships. Approximately 73,000 women were screened last year through this program. More information on the State Health Department's cancer fighting initiatives can be found at http://www.nyhealth.gov/nysdoh/cancer/center/cancerhome.htm.