Campus & Community

Breast cancer survivors to share stories, raise awareness

When Barbara Black went for her routine mammogram in 2007, her life suddenly changed.

BC panel
Breast cancer survivors Barbara Black and Stacey Halpin will serve as panelists with Dr. Matthew Goodwin.

Her doctor discovered a new micro calcification of cells in her right breast and wanted a biopsy immediately. She moved forward with it, and the results came back positive for ductal carnioma situ.  Still, her doctor assured her that it was an easily treatable cancer. At the most, she would need a lumpectomy and radiation.

“I was thinking ‘it could be worse. In a week my treatments will be done.’ I really didn’t feel any anxiety. It was just something that was happening,’’ said Black, a PBSC accounting associate in the Budget Office, who retired in summer 2010 after 23 years and returned to work part time in January 2012.

But one lumpectomy led to a second one because the cancer kept growing. At the second lumpectomy her sentiments changed. She wanted the cancer out of her body even if it meant a mastectomy. After undergoing the procedure it was revealed that she had Stage 3A triple positive cancer, which included the HER2 gene positive, an aggressive form of breast cancer.

Black, who has been cancer free for nine years, will share her story at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 13 in Conference Room E-F as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While the event is at capacity, it will be live streamed to each campus allowing everyone to participate. Dr. Matthew Goodwin, a plastic surgeon with Tenet Florida Physician Services who specializes in breast reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, and Stacey Halpin, another breast cancer survivor, also will speak.

The Lunch and Learn event is one of three events that PBSC employees will participate in this week to raise awareness of the disease that impacts 1 in 8 women as well as raise funds for the American Cancer Society. There also will be a Jump Hoops for Cancer event at the gymnasium on the Lake Worth campus from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, the proceeds of which will be used for the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. A team of Palm Beach State employees and students from across the campuses are planning to participate in the walk on Saturday. Registration is still open.

Lyn Becker, Lake Worth Wellness Center coordinator, organized the events in partnership with the Wellness Centers on the other campuses and worked to live stream the event. “It’s to create awareness. The topic is important, and men need to know that it’s not just a woman’s disease,’’ she said.

Black, who underwent four months of chemotherapy and took Herceptin for a year, a drug that was approved by the FDA in 1998 to treat the HER2 gene positive, said she hopes she can help someone by sharing her story. “It had only been out nine years when I got my cancer, so I was lucky,’’ she said.

She encourages women to get their annual mammogram and be informed. While she will be on Femara, a hormone inhibitor, for the rest of the life, she is happy to be alive to watch her four grandchildren by her only son and his wife grow up.

“The results are great now. I still see my oncologist every four months. I have been cancer free. I am a very blessed person if you want to know the truth.”

For more information and to watch the live stream, visit


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