Earlier this year, 10 Northeastern Pennsylvania residents took the brave step of sharing their personal stories of surviving breast cancer in an effort to inspire others who are facing the disease.

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) collected their experiences for its 10th annual Gallery of Hope, a traveling display containing survivor profiles and educational materials designed to raise awareness about the importance of early detection and treatment in the fight against breast cancer.

BCNEPA is seeking nominations for its 2011 Gallery of Hope.

Any female or male breast cancer survivor residing within BCNEPA's 13-county service area can be nominated. Go to www.bcnepa.com/hope before Nov. 5 to nominate a friend or family member. The 2011 honorees will be announced in January.

Barbara A. Wagner of Carbon County is a 2010 honoree.

Wagner's cancer was detected when her doctor felt a lump on her left breast during a routine exam. Though she had no family history of breast cancer, a mammogram and biopsy confirmed a cancer diagnosis. She underwent a lumpectomy, followed by radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

During Wagner's treatment, she received a great deal of support and strength from her husband, children and siblings. She also participated in the American Cancer Society's "Look Good, Feel Better" program and has stayed involved with her local Relay for Life.

"More women need to be aware of it and not fear it," she says. "It is a treatable disease when it's found early."

Now, enjoying nature is a big part of Barbara's relaxation. She enjoys walking, gardening, bird-watching and bicycling or any activity that allows her to be outdoors.

"Being a Gallery of Hope honoree is an opportunity to help us educate others," said Cynthia A. Yevich, of BCNEPA.

"If detected early, the five-year survival rate for localized breast cancer is 97 percent. We encourage survivors to share their stories to help us reinforce how important self-exams, screenings, and early detection are in order to beat this disease."

The 2010 Gallery of Hope is currently available for exhibit. Visit www.bcnepa.com/hope to request the display for an upcoming event.