Ten northeastern Pennsylvania residents recently took the brave step of sharing their personal experiences with breast cancer to inspire others who are facing the disease.
Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) has collected their stories and photos for the company's 12th annual "Gallery of Hope."
Created by BCNEPA in 2000, the Gallery of Hope is a traveling display designed to educate the public about the importance of early detection and treatment in the fight against breast cancer.
Beginning this month, the 2012 Gallery is available to exhibit throughout northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.
This year's Gallery of Hope includes Albrightsville resident Carol Miele, who suspected something was wrong when she felt a thickening in her left breast.
She quickly informed her physician, and testing revealed stage IV breast cancer.
Following aggressive chemotherapy treatment, her cancer is now in remission.
As a retired nurse, Miele knows that keeping active and eating well helps increase her chances of staying in remission. And she educates and inspires other women fighting cancer through her poetry, which has been published in the nationally recognized Living Beyond Breast Cancer newsletter.
For Miele, being a stage IV survivor is not the end, it's a new start "to live life to the fullest."
In addition to Miele, the 2012 Gallery of Hope recognizes:
Ÿ Kelli Mercurio, Stroudsburg, a social worker who acknowledges an organization called Breast Friends as a source of key support throughout her fight.
Ÿ Carmine Ann Swirble, Hazleton, Luzerne County, who is the head cook at Hazleton General Hospital and a grandmother of two.
Ÿ Carol Reed, Lake Ariel, Wayne County, an assistant professor of mathematics who was diagnosed with cancer at age 34.
Ÿ Carmina Rinkunas, Clarks Summit, Lackawanna County, an attorney and a mother of three who recently completed the two-day, 39.3-mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in New York City.
Ÿ Sandra Connor, Clifford, Susquehanna County, who is a two-time cancer survivor and grandmother of five.
Ÿ Jayne Reynolds, Montoursville, Lycoming County, who is a grandmother of five and a snowbird who stays busy as a seasonal worker at Disney World.
Ÿ Melissa Telesk, Factoryville, Wyoming County, who is a preschool teacher and mother of two.
Ÿ Cheryl Scartelli, Tafton, Pike County, who is a retirement consultant and a mother of two.
Ÿ Melody Collins, Wyoming, Luzerne County, who is a graduate student and mother of one.
The Gallery of Hope nomination process is open year-round.
To nominate a breast cancer survivor, or to request the Gallery of Hope as an exhibit at your facility or event, contact Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania through the Gallery of Hope website at www.bcnepa.com/hope .