Warren Library hosts PA survivors exhibit

Times Observer photo by Dave Ferry The PA Breast Cancer Coalition van spreads its message far and wide.

Facing Breast Cancer.

On Thursday, the Warren Public Library hosted an opening reception for a Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition’s photo exhibit, “67 Women, 67 Counties: Facing Breast Cancer in Pennsylvania.”

The event featured stories from three Warren area survivors — Connie Zaffino, Amy Morrison and Lori Peterson.

The striking photography exhibit, on display there until July 21, features even more stories from breast cancer survivors from all across Pennsylvania.

The real display at the opening event was one of courage.

Times Observer photo by Dave Ferry Representatives with the PA Breast Cancer Coalition include, from left, Abby Piskel, Natalie Kopp, Jen Pensinger and Danielle Kockler. Their goal is to find a cure so their daughters won’t have to.

“I am a mother, a wife, a grandma, a daughter… and I am a survivor,” Morrison, a teacher at Warren Area High School, said. “I will not let cancer define me.”

She spoke of her frustration with the diagnosis after faithfully getting a mammogram screenings every year after 40.

“I don’t smoke and I exercise all the time.” she said.

After being diagnosed, she responded well to treatment and is now “a cancer-free survivor.”

Jen Pensinger described the Breast Cancer Coalition’s mission.

Times Observer photo by Dave Ferry Every individual story shares experiences which will hopefully inspire others diagnosed with the disease.

The coaliton, founded by Pat Halpin-Murphy, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

“We dedicate this exhibit to the survivors — everybody knows someone who has been affected by cancer,” said Pensinger. “We need to beat it. Without a cure, there is only so much treatment can do. We may be small potatoes compared to the National Cancer Institute, but we hope we can be one piece of the puzzle — so when my two little girls turn 40, they won’t have to worry about this.”

After the presentation there were door prizes and refreshments; an opportunity for folks to mingle about the exhibit and share their experiences.

“The Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition is committed to supporting women.” said Pensinger. “We offer care packages, free of charge through our website at pabreastcancer.org. We have had people tell us that it makes them feel like they are not alone.”

Pensinger organized the event, along with Jennifer Franklin with the library, and Natalie Kopp, Abby Piskel and Danielle Kockler, all with the Breast Cancer Coalition.

Photo submitted to Times Observer Warren cancer survivors, from left, Connie Zaffino, Amy Morrison and Lori Peterson. Their stories, along with photos and stories from women across Pennsylvania present a powerful message to anyone facing cancer.

It was well-attended and a powerful example of how inspiring sharing stories of survival can be.

If you or a family member is facing a diagnosis reach out to pabreastcancer.org, or check out the exhibit until July 21 and see Pennsylvania’s stories of survival.