Earlier this year, 10 northeastern and north central Pennsylvania residents took the brave step of sharing their personal stories of surviving breast cancer in an effort to educate others about the disease.

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) collected their experiences for the company's 12th 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 2013 Gallery of Hope.

Any female or male breast cancer survivor residing within BCNEPA's 13-county service area can be nominated. Simply go to www.bcnepa.com/hope before Nov. 2 and click on "Nominate a Survivor" to nominate a friend or family member for consideration. The 2013 honorees will be announced in January.

Honorees in the 2012 Gallery of Hope included: a 58-year-old head cook from Luzerne County who started an event to educate cancer patients about healthy eating during recovery; a 66-year-old grandmother from Lycoming County who celebrates life by wintering in Florida, where she works part-time at Disney World.

It also included a 42-year-old social worker from Monroe County who started a local breast cancer support group; and a 46-year-old attorney from Lackawanna County who raised money for breast cancer awareness and then captained a team for the 39.3-mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City.

"Being a Gallery of Hope honoree is an opportunity to help us educate others," said Cynthia A. Yevich, senior director of corporate affairs for 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."

BCNEPA's 2012 Gallery of Hope is currently available for exhibit throughout northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

Visit www.bcnepa.com/hope to request the Gallery display for an upcoming event in your community.

Individuals can also become supporters of "Gallery of Hope Blue Cross of NEPA" on Facebook and begin receiving regular announcements about BCNEPA's breast cancer education efforts.