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AnneMarie Ciccarella  

AnneMarie Ciccarella


Diagnosed with invasive lobular breast cancer in 2006, AnneMarie Ciccarella has no evidence of disease following treatment with numerous surgeries and 8 rounds of chemotherapy. She is a care-helper to her mom living with currently stable metastatic disease.

When she began experiencing cognitive issues two years after treatment, AnneMarie was evaluated for late onset and seemingly worsening chemobrain issues, she launched her blog which quickly became an avenue to build community and spark discussion among those living with and beyond cancer. That platform was AnneMarie’s entry into the world of advocacy in the areas of patient support, research, and policy. She uses her voice to encourage self-empowerment and shared decision making among patients, loved ones and their treatment teams.

A frequent presenter at science meetings, she speaks about the use of social media for scientists, the importance of clinical trials, and the power of patient advocacy and empowerment. She is a mentor in Scientist-Survivor program sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research. Featured on the cover of their Fall 2017 publication, Cancer Today Magazine, the article showcases her efforts in research advocacy and the power of personal friendships made through online connections.

AnneMarie reviews grant proposals for a number of organizations including the Department of Defense and National Cancer Institute (NCI). She serves as a patient partner on several advisory committees including Dr. Susan Love’s Army of Women initiative, and is a patient advocate on a variety of research grants. She is a member of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship’s Policy and Advocacy Team, and AnneMarie was part of a small group of National Breast Cancer Coalition advocates invited to the White House to discuss policy matters with high level administrators.

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Cancer 101
Latina Navigator Training




She is an early adopter of social media in the cancer research and clinical arena and is an inaugural member of the SWOG Digital Engagement Committee. She uses twitter to help serve as a bridge between the patient community and the medical and research communities. Named as one of HIT Consultants 15 Influential ePatients and Patient Advocates, her blog has been named a Top Breast Cancer Blog by Healthline for six consecutive years.

As the new Program Director at CISN, AnneMarie is eager to develop and implement strategies to leverage the power of social media to reach a wide and diverse audience. She hopes this will introduce the site and its stellar, always evolving content to a new and growing group of patients, researchers, and clinical teams.

AnneMarie Ciccarella on Cover of Cancer Today Magazine   Follow her on twitter @chemobrainfog
Look for her on Facebook


Candace Brady, JD  

Candace Brady, JD


I am a Program Consultant for CISN. I retired from the Los Angeles Police Department, at the rank of Captain, after a 22-year career. I am an attorney whose primary focus has been employment and municipal law. I have represented clients with cancer.

I began my advocacy work in 1999, a year after my breast cancer diagnosis and extensive treatment. I have been a presenter for various organizations such as the American Cancer Society. I speak to physicians, nurses and medical students, offering the patient’s perspective.

I have taken Project LEAD, and completed training for advocate reviewers given by the Komen Foundation. I have attended medical and scientific conferences all over the nation to broaden my knowledge of cancer and advocacy issues.

I have attended the National Breast Cancer Coalition Advocacy Conferences in Washington, D.C. I have been an advocate reviewer for the Komen Foundation for three years and am currently in the selection process as a consumer advocate for the Department of Defense.



Nora E. Carbine  

Nora E. Carbine


I have been a breast cancer survivor since 1992, and have been active in breast cancer advocacy since completing Project LEAD (a science training course for advocates developed by NBCC - the National Breast Cancer Coalition) in 1995 in Washington, D.C. I completed the Clinical Trials LEAD course in 2003, and am a graduate of the Georgetown Mini-Medical School program. I was the patient advocate for a clinical trial at Georgetown University and have been an advocate for the Georgetown University Breast SPORE (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) and an outside advisor for the SPORE board since 2003.

My major advocacy interest is in breast cancer research, encouraging its translational potential (moving quickly from the lab to clinical use), establishing communications between research scientists and the general public, and promoting participation in clinical trials. I have been a reviewer for the California Breast Cancer Research Program, evaluating research proposals from the advocate’s point of view and served as an advocate guide at the CBCRP symposium, providing an interface between researchers and the public in the poster sessions.

My work in science publishing and experience as a member of a Journal Club for Project LEAD graduates led to me to involvement as co-author of a Systematic Review on the efficacy of prophylactic mastectomy for the Cochrane Collaboration (a group dedicated to the advancement of evidence-based medicine) published in 2004. I presented a poster of the Cochrane Review with my co-authors at the NBCC conference in 2005. As a funded advocate, I attended the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (the largest meeting of breast cancer researchers and clinicians in the world) in 2005, and plan to post synopses of some of the research presented on this site.




Diana T. Chingos


"Helping patients through their cancer experience and informing researchers about the patient's perspective is how I make sense of my cancer diagnoses." Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 34, Diana's account is one heard frequently from women diagnosed at an early age. Diana serves on the Research Advisory Committee for the Young Survival Coalition. "I was told I was too young to have breast cancer. I take very seriously my charge to educate others, and especially, how to be pro-active when statistics do not serve you."

Diana jump-started her medical education by taking the National Breast Cancer Coalition's Project LEAD course in 1996. "I couldn't control my diagnosis. But I could become extremely knowledgeable about breast cancer science, treatment, and the conduct of research. I try my best to make it more patient-centered."

As she moved past treatment, Diana began her efforts in grassroots breast cancer advocacy, alternating this involvement with freelance work in TV production. This ultimately led to an invitation to head the Cancer Survivorship Advisory Council at the University of Southern California (USC) Kenneth T. Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles. This patient advisory group is one of a few in the United States. Cancer patients interact with cancer research scientists and physicians on the Cancer Center's Working Committees. Diana's participation extends to her role on the Institutional Review Board and as a speaker at the Keck School of Medicine. The Introduction to Clinical Medicine faculty has incorporated Diana and the other members of the Cancer Survivorship Advisory Council into their curriculum and other medical school programs.

"I especially value my participation as a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. Diana has served as an advocate member of the State of California Breast Cancer Research Council and currently serves on the Working Group for the NCI/NIEHS Working Group of the Breast Cancer Environmental Centers.

She serves as an advocate on a DOD BCRP-funded Breast Cancer Center of Excellence with Michael Press, PI, University of Southern California, and Geoffrey Greene, PI, University of Chicago, on "Hormonal Carcinogenesis" and commends the funding of these multidisciplinary centers that require consumer participation.

She also serves on the Data and Safety Monitoring Committee of the California Cancer Consortium. She served as a consumer and/or programmatic reviewer for Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Avon Foundation, the California Breast Cancer Research Program, and NCI/NIEHS.

Recently, Diana headed back to school part-time to begin work on her MPH degree. "My class work complements my work in the best possible way. I'm one of the older students in my class…the one who isn't wearing the rose colored glasses."



Sandra Finestone  

Sandra Finestone


Sandra Finestone has an accounting practice with her husband in Orange County California, and is Executive Director of Hope Wellness Center. She has a Masters in English and American History and a doctorate in Psychology. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist. She is a 30 year breast cancer survivor.

Sandra helped start the Orange County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the cure and has been president three times as well as the race chair. She is currently the treasurer and past president of the Inland Empire Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

Sandra has received many honors including the Komen National Volunteer of the year as well as the Orange County Volunteer of the year. She has served as vice chair of grants at the national level, and is currently serving on the Advocates in Science steering committee and is a Komen Scholar.

She is a Project Lead graduate and has attended many scientific meetings including AACR, San Antonio Breast Symposium, ASCO, ASCO Breast, CBCRP and Era of Hope.

She has reviewed grants for the CDMRP, Avon, NIH, AACR, and State of New York and was an observer for the State of California’s Breast Cancer Research Program. She has served as a mentor for both the DCMRP and Komen. She has served on the steering committee for the American Psychosocial Oncology Society and has presented at their symposium.

She was privileged to represent Komen internationally at trainings in Jordan, Kuwait and Egypt.

As Executive Director of Hope Wellness Center she facilitates support groups, meets individually with patients and their families and has created a peer support system where breast cancer mentors help newly diagnosed women with their breast cancer journey.

Sandra is passionate about educating patients about their disease. She believes the more they know, the less they fear. She has facilitated conferences and webinars. She has written many published articles, she has coauthored a book on Intimacy and Sexuality after a breast cancer diagnosis, a subject she believes does not get enough attention. She has spoken to audiences of 2000 and to audiences of 2 and thinks both are important. She also believes that research is vital in this battle but so is compassion and caring.


Jane Perlmutter,PhD  

Jane Perlmutter, PhD


I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1985 at the age of 36 and with no family history. Three years later, breast cancer was diagnosed in my other breast. Since these experiences, I have been involved in a number of organizations committed to educating the public about breast cancer, supporting people affected by it and eradicating the disease.

As a volunteer, I have run breast health awareness workshops for adults and teens and provided peer counseling to women diagnosed with breast cancer. Currently I am on the Board of the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, am an active volunteer in a number of National Breast Cancer Coalition’s (NBCC) initiatives and am on one of the working groups associated with the Clinical Trials Summit. I have been an invited speaker on cancer advocacy at a variety of forums and have contributed to several websites and reviewed several books targeted at people affected by cancer.

I have a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and Masters Degrees in Educational Psychology, Computer and Information Science as well as an MBA. I started my career as an experimental cognitive psychologist at the University of Texas in Austin, spent most of my career at Bell Labs and currently run my own consulting company— Gemini Group. My consulting focuses on process improvement and accreditation, primarily for academic institutions. I have been an examiner for the Baldrige and Lincoln quality award programs. I also serve as a scientific review administrator for peer review panels for the Departments of Education and Defense external research programs.

Given my scientific training, albeit not related to cancer, I am especially interested in research advocacy. I have been a stakeholder reviewer for the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) and the US Department of Defense’s external research program, and am currently a member of the ACS’s External Research Council. I am also an advocate consultant on a number of academic cancer research projects. I have been a Survivor-Advocate representative at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), The American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Meetings, and other scientific meetings.

I am committed to increasing my effectiveness as an advocate and stay current with the scientific progress. In addition to attending scientific meeting, I am a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD training programs in basic science, clinical trials, and quality care. I have also participated in the Rocky Mountain Evidence-Based Health Care Workshop.



Patty Spears  

Patty Spears


Patty Spears, B.S., In 1999 Patty was diagnosed at the age of 40 with locally advanced breast cancer. Following treatment, she began volunteering with the Komen North Carolina Triangle to the Coast Affiliate as Chair of the Education Committee and joined the Board of Directors in December 2001. Representing Susan G. Komen in the community and on the NC Advisory Committee for Cancer Coordination and Control led to other opportunities for cancer advocacy. Currently Patty serves as an advocate reviewer for the Susan G. Komen Research, Evaluation and Scientific Program, the Duke Cancer Institute, Cancer Protocol Committee.

She has previously been an advocate for the Duke University Breast Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE), the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG™) program, the Translational Breast Cancer Research Consortium (TBCRC) and the Breast Cancer Steering Committee (BCSC). She is currently an advocate and Co-vice Chair of the Patient Advocate Committee of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology (formerly CALGB/NCCTG/ACOSOG). She also serves as community member of the Community Advisory Board of the Office of Health Equity and Disparities at Duke Cancer Institute (DCI).

Patty is the recipient of the 2002 Susan G. Komen New Volunteer of the Year Award, the 2003 Maureen Jordan-Thomas Spirit of Survivorship Award, the 2007 caBIG™ Patient Advocate Award, and is a June 2003 Project LEAD Graduate. She serves on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Advocates in Science Steering Committee and is a Komen Scholar. Patty is employed full time as a research specialist at North Carolina State University studying molecular pathogenesis of Listeria monocytogenes.



Jeannine Walston  

Jeannine Walston


Jeannine Walston has extensive experience in cancer education and advocacy, health care policy, and both conventional and integrative cancer care. Her career includes work in the U.S. Congress, government agencies, cancer non-profit organizations, health care practices, and other health care businesses.

After a few years in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Legislative Aide, she was a policy advocate and lobbyist at the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and assisted the President at the Children’s Cause for Cancer Advocacy. Jeannine was chosen as the first person to serve in the Food and Drug Administration’s Patient Consultant Program as an advocate in the cancer drug development process, and also selected as a consumer representative in a National Cancer Institute Cooperative Group where she offered the patient’s perspective about clinical trials design. Jeannine reached a point where her work needed to include more than the cancer diagnosis and instead the whole person.

As a writer, trainer, and spokesperson, Jeannine then educated the public about some aspects of complementary health care through the National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Clearinghouse. In 2004, Jeannine began her business Healing Focus providing writing, marketing, coaching, and other consulting services to clients such as the Lance Armstrong Foundation, the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, EmergingMed, Cancer Information and Support Network, site specific cancer non-profits, and health care practices. She went through CancerGuides® of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine by James G. Gordon, MD.

For several years she co-founded a non-profit called EmbodiWorks about integrative cancer care. Jeannine’s work evolved to her own business with services as a Cancer Coach, Writer, Consultant, and Speaker while sharing information and inspiration to support optimal health and healing with or without cancer. Along with various roles of volunteer work, Jeannine serves as an Advisory Board to the Simonton Cancer Center. She has been published in magazines, other media, and spoken before many groups. All of our parts exist in relation to the whole. Jeannine’s personal health care experiences, especially her journey with a brain tumor since March 1998, deeply inform her work and enrich her perspectives.

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