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Our Board of Directors and staff work tirelessly to promote awareness of, and research equity for, metastatic breast cancer. Many of our board members are metastatic patients themselves, while others are dedicated advocates who stand side by side with us in the fight to reduce deaths from breast cancer.
Jamil Rivers was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at age 39. Determined to fight and be here for her children, husband and family, she researched vigorously to learn how to best prepare for her battle to survive. With chemotherapy in conjunction with improving her nutrition with food and supplements and incorporating integrative therapies, she is doing well and now on endocrine therapy. She continues to work full-time as a nonprofit CFO and live an active life. She believes that the research she did to prepare herself for her cancer fight has been critical in her recovery and overall wellness.
She became an advocate to use her voice and experiences to help advance legislative policy, medical research and customize support to better meet the needs of individuals impacted by breast cancer, particularly metastatic and African-American patients. Jamil is a Young Advocate and Board Member of Living Beyond Breast Cancer. She is a policy, science and health equity advocate and metastatic advisory committee member with Susan G. Komen. She is a member and patient advisor of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance. She is a proposal reviewer for the Breast Cancer Research Program with the Department of Defense and a Project LEAD graduate. She also launched The Chrysalis Initiative which provides mentoring and resource navigation to women with breast cancer and engages in outreach and education for African-American women to assess their breast cancer risk.
Through Jamil’s work, she has participated in countless community health events, facilitated the design and funding of two metastatic clinical trials, met with leadership within the PA governor’s office and congressional leaders in D.C., testified to the FDA, and connected numerous women to resources for screenings, treatment and support. Jamil has been featured in People Magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Tribune, national campaigns for Anthropologie, Novartis, Pfizer and Cancer and Careers and on CBS News and Good Morning America. Jamil and her husband, Rick have three children and reside in Drexel Hill, PA.
Terlisa Sheppard is a 4-time breast cancer survivor for almost 20 years, who was first diagnosed with a stage 3 HER2+, ER+, PR+ diagnosis in 1998, at the age of 31. She was also 8 ½ months pregnant at the time. She has since been diagnosed in 2001, with metastases to her bones, lungs, and liver; in 2002, with metastases to her spine and abdomen; and a final time in 2003, with metastasis to her brain.
She is a proud graduate of Alabama State University, located in Montgomery, Alabama, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. She is the very proud mother of two beautiful daughters, Alexis and Alyah, whom are now students at her Alma Mater and both are majoring in accounting as well.
Terlisa started a small, nonprofit breast cancer organization called, “Terlisa Fights Breast Cancer, Inc.” so that she could use her diagnosis and breast cancer journey to motivate, encourage, and inspire countless other survivors to push through their illness, and “Live Their Best Life Every Day” that the Lord has blessed them to live on this earth.
Terlisa has touched the lives of people from all over the country, as her breast cancer journey/testimony has been featured on the local news station, various newspapers and video interviews, the cancer center website through UF Healthcare Cancer-Orlando, the AARP Journal and her very own website and social media pages.
Today, Terlisa lives with an up-most, positive attitude while fighting for her life on a daily basis and it is her continuous mission to always encourage other Survivors to do the same and fight along with her.
Patrick Quinn moved to Northwest Arkansas in 1998. He met Lisa (Cooper) Quinn in 2000 on Dickson Street in Fayetteville while they were attending the University of Arkansas. He graduated from the U of A with a M.A. in Communication. Patrick has spent 10 years in the restaurant industry working and has done everything from being a bus boy all the way to being a general manager. In 2006 he received his real estate license and has been working with Coldwell Banker Harris McHaney & Faucette Real Estate since then. He has been a top agent for the company including being the number one agent for the State of Arkansas in 2014.
The most important thing for him is to spend time with his family. He has coached his son, Cooper, in soccer since 2012. This has been a learning experience for him as well as for Cooper. In 2015 he tried to coach Karis at the age of 3, but she decided soccer wasn’t for her yet. If you stop by his house during the afternoon, you will most likely see him outside with his children playing some sort of games.
In 2015, Patrick’s wife, Lisa, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It was devastating and even more so when Patrick and Lisa learned that that she carries the BRCA2 gene mutation. This means there is a 50% chance that either one of their children will carry the gene mutation. Patrick and Lisa felt it was vital to get involved in an organization that has the best interests of men and women living with metastatic diseases in mind. After much research, they felt Metavivor had a mission that was in line with what will be necessary to truly make a difference.
After the initial shock of the diagnosis subsided (it never completely goes away), Patrick and Lisa partnered with Kelli Parker from Bella Vista, AR to form the NWA METSquerade. The METSquerade is a fundraiser that donates 100% of net profits to Metavivor. It takes place annually and is held in April in Rogers, AR. You can check out the NWA Metsquerade information at www.nwamets.org.
In 2016, the NWA METSquerade Committee collaborated to start the Annual METAribbon Challenge. The challenge is a way for individuals around the company to tell their story and raise funds for METAvivor. Within a month of kicking off the challenge, challengers from around the country raised over $20,000 and the METAribbon Challenge was born. It became a voice for the women throughout the country, and a way for them to support a cause where no monies were being misused. 100% of the donations go directly to metastatic research. You can check out more information about the challenge here.
If you are interested in supporting either the NWA METSquerade as a sponsor or through a donation or participating in the METAribbon Challenge, please feel free to contact Patrick at the information below.
I have been married to the love of my life, Tim, for 36 years and we have two beautiful daughters. Kelsey is an ER nurse, and Bridget is a merchandising director and social media manager. I am a licensed school psychologist at the high school level, and I devoted my life for 33 years to working with adolescents whom I love.
19 Years Ago: I was diagnosed with breast cancer after my two older sisters had also been diagnosed. (No, we do NOT have the BRACA gene). I took a year off from life to have a lumpectomy, sentinel node biopsy, ancillary node dissection, chemotherapy with AC for six rounds and seven weeks of radiation. Shortly after I finished treatment, my older sister, Mary Lou, died of metastasized breast cancer–6 weeks after it metastasized to her brain. This culminated in my having my ovaries and fallopian tubes removed and a bilateral mastectomy with DIEP reconstruction. I then went on an aromatase inhibitor for ten years since my cancer was ER+. Three years after I stopped, at the beginning of 2015, I went for a spine MRI due to spinal stenosis. It was incidentally discovered my breast cancer had metastasized to my liver, a few lymph nodes, and under my right kidney where a solid tumor had crushed my ureter and destroyed my right kidney. Stage 4. We were off and running…
During this time I decided to blog about my experiences (The Cancer Chronicles at barbigwire.com) mostly so I could tell my children about myself and maybe a few life lessons along the way for the inevitable time when I would die. My blog, sometimes funny, sometimes serious, always includes music I am attached to at the moment and of course, my love for Lucy and Calvin and Hobbes and Life of Pi. It always chronicles the truth about living with MBC. I am still shocked when people tell me it touches them or teaches them something about how best to live life. I am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to share my life with the community and to feel in some small way I may have helped someone somewhere when they needed it most.
Over the past tumultuous four years I have tried several treatments, switched oncologists and hospitals and have continued to travel, a promise my husband and I made the first time around—to Iceland, Belize, Aruba, Italy, Colorado, Texas, North Carolina, and California.
After several failed treatments, a second liver biopsy showed that my cancer had mutated from ER+ to Triple Negative. With that, I signed up for a clinical trial with immunotherapy that started in January of 2016. After three months, I began to fail drastically. I was hospitalized with hyper-inflammatory syndrome and complete organ failure. In a last-ditch effort to save me, I was placed in a medically induced coma for days and given a less than 10% chance of surviving. Steroids, at a massive dose, were administered, as well as hemodialysis. Miraculously it worked. After a month in the hospital and a 42-pound weight loss, I was transferred to an acute rehab facility for another month so I could re-learn how to walk, swallow, sit up, use my hands, etc. I managed to get off hemodialysis too. Seven weeks later, I went home with five months of Physical Therapy to follow. Currently, I am treatment free and have been for over three years—the unicorn! Today I have gait instability, adrenal insufficiency, word retrieval issues, severe fatigue, and significant neuropathy in my hands and feet as a result of the immunotherapy, but I am alive and doing well.
You may recognize me from my usual stint at the registration desk at the DC Stampede, the 2018 Elements Campaign, (#thisismbc), with my daughter Bridget, the Count Me In video for the MBC Project, live streaming from LLBC about the MBC Project, or New York Fashion Week 2019 (#notjustone). In addition, I have raised a combined total of over $100,000 for MBCN and Metavivor through Booty for the Battle, Celebrity Bartending, and the Metaribbon Challenge.
It is hard to have a consistent voice in the struggle against MBC when our leaders die week after week. I find it difficult to carry on sometimes knowing my time here is short and there is so much to do. Despite this, I believe that love always shows up, kindness matters.
CJ "Dian" Corneliussen-James
Founder, Director Emeritus, Past President
"CJ” retired from the Air Force in 2003 after serving 24 years as an intelligence officer. She then continued to work for the federal government in a civilian capacity until 2007 when complications from metastatic breast cancer cut her career short. CJ’s positions included, amongst others, monitoring and analyzing Soviet satellite activity during the Cold War, supporting airlift operations for Operation JUST CAUSE in Panama and Operation DESERT STORM in Iraq, serving as the intelligence lead on the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the Somalia Conflict, and coordinating intelligence activities of 11 nations for NATO crisis intervention.
Overseas tours included South Korea and Germany – the latter spent working with German intelligence organizations due to her fluency in German. Her last position in the Air Force carried over into her civil service career … that of resolving the cases of Americans who did not return from previous conflicts, primarily the Vietnam War and the first Gulf War.
In 2007 CJ started a support program for metastatic breast cancer. Within six months it had 24 members. It now serves as the prototype for METAvivor’s national Peer to Peer Support Program. In 2008 she produced a metastatic breast cancer ribbon pin and in 2009 she asked three other support group members, Avis Halberstadt, Karen Presswood and Rhonda Rhodes, to join her in founding the non-profit METAvivor to raise funds for metastatic breast cancer research.
Raised in Santa Cruz CA, CJ has lived in Annapolis MD since 1997, sharing her home with three rescue cats.
Member At Large
Shonte Drakeford(she/her) is a 36-year-old Washington, D.C. native, she is a Nurse Practitioner, Army wife, Farmer, German Shepard mama, and a friend to all. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Bowie State University in May 2007 and received a Master of Science in Nursing as an Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, June 2017 at Ball State University.
Shonte was diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer in 2015 at the age of 31, as her initial diagnosis. The cancer has metastasized to her lungs, hip, rib, spine, and lymph nodes. She also has a genetic mutation for colon cancer. She is triple positive meaning the cancer grows from Estrogen/Progesteron and the HER 2 receptor. She started cancer detection early, at the age of 25 but unfortunately was denied and delayed early detection diagnostics for 6 years before being diagnosed.
She has been SURVIVING while living a life without fear, as positively as possible. Shonte values quality of life while spending her leisure moments with her high school sweetie/husband, friends, snowboarding, working around her farm- chickens, bees, ducks, growing produce, listening to music, cooking and traveling. Her mantras are “Enjoy Life” & “Do as much as you can, until you can't”.
Shonte continues to educate & advocate using the most evidenced based research of Metastatic Breast Cancer care. She has partnered with organizations such as local MBC support groups, METAvivor, #ThisisMBC Project, Tigerlily Foundation-Angel Advocate, Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC)- Hear My Voice Advocate, Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance, Broad Institute Of MIT and Harvard- Count Me in Project, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and served on advisory boards for pharmaceutical companies. She is also involved in media and social media, featured in local News Station WUSA9, written/featured in publications with AACR’s Cancer Today, Bay Weekly, For the Breast of Us, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), Huffington Post, Touch, The Black Breast Cancer Alliance, 2for2Boobs, Glamour Magazine, and was most recently recognized for being one of the Top DC’s Nurses by Because of Them We Can.
She has a unique perspective of being a patient and a provider. Her core goal is to produce change through her kind heartedness while using realistic, scientific expectations. Utilizing her voice is imperative for inclusion as she strives to hold representation for not only herself, but also the underserved community, young women/men living with breast cancer, women/men of color, and to anyone who will listen.
Member At Large
Rich is father to his greatest gifts - his twins Quinn and Keira. He is a nonprofit software engineering leader, currently working for Avaaz, a campaigning organization that empowers people from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues. He also serves on the National Parents Committee and Advisory Board for the University of Maryland chapter of Camp Kesem.
Rich was caregiver for his wife Erin, who passed away in March of 2020. She was first diagnosed in 2008 with stage 0 DCIS, then four and a half years later in 2013 with stage I, and in 2018 with stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Erin became a fierce advocate for the need for metastatic breast cancer research and support, raising awareness through sharing her story, supporting others with MBC, and fundraising for METAvivor.
Volunteering and serving on the METAvivor board allows Rich to carry on Erin’s legacy of advocating for MBC research and supporting families affected by MBC.
Director of Advocacy
Barry is a retired attorney and securities agent living in Vienna, VA. He currently serves as Metavivor’s Director of Advocacy and co-chair of the Stampede, and he is also a member of Metavivor’s finance committee. Barry has previously and is currently serving on a number of nonprofit Boards. Previous volunteer positions include: Board Member and Chairman of the Government Relations Committee for the National Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Alliance; member of the (D.C.) Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Teenage Pregnancy and Infant Mortality and Chair of its Subcommittee on Border Babies; counsel to the Society for Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics; and Chairman of the Dean’s Circle for the George Washington University Law School Alumni Association.
Besides Metavivor, Barry’s current nonprofit involvement include: Board Member of Persephone, a documentary film company specializing in women’s issues; Member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the George Washington University Law School; and Board Member and Treasurer of his Homeowners Association.
Barry has been deeply affected by the metastatic breast cancer of people close to him.
Kelly Shanahan, M.D.
Member At Large
In 2008, I had everything going for me: a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the University of Virginia School of Medicine, I had a busy and successful ob-gyn practice in South Lake Tahoe, CA; a precocious 9 year old daughter; and a well-used passport from traveling all over the world with my family to attend conferences, with a liberal dose of vacation on the side. When I was diagnosed with stage IIB breast cancer in April 2008, I considered it a mere bump in the road, returning to work two weeks after my bilateral mastectomy and continuing to work all through the four months of chemo.
And for five years, breast cancer was an aside, something to put in the past medical history section of forms. Even when I developed sudden back pain, I never thought it could be breast cancer rearing its ugly head – a pulled muscle, a herniated disc but not what it turned out to be: metastatic breast cancer in virtually every bone in my body, with a fractured vertebra and an about to break left femur. I was diagnosed on my 53rd birthday.
I have been extremely lucky, for after an unconventional 14-month course of combination IV chemo and zometa, followed by a more conventional aromatase inhibitor, I have remained NEAD – No Evidence of Active Disease -- since April 2014. Neuropathy from the chemo did cost me my career, but I have found a new purpose in advocacy. I am a volunteer and grant reviewer for METAvivor; a member of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance and the ABC Global Alliance; a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program; and past medical director of METUP. I will fight for more research funding for the already metastasized patient until my dying breath by continuing to contact my state and federal representatives and participating in legislative advocacy days on Capitol Hill, as I have since 2015.
I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a doctor, a woman LIVING with metastatic breast cancer. I am an advocate.
Member At Large
Stephanie was diagnosed in July 2015 with de novo MBC. She is a Registered Nurse with close to 40 years of clinical practice and secondary teaching experience. Her experience has been pediatric and adult critical care working in level 1 trauma centers to critical access hospitals. The last 15 years of nursing was with End of Life/Hospice care. She is married and live in Tarboro NC with husband John and rescue dog Sammy. They have 3 adult children and 6 grandchildren. Stephanie is a member of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance, an LBBC volunteer, a Komen Advocate in Science, a METAvivor Board Member and a recipient of the Spirit to Impact award as well as being involved with many other organizations. She is also project lead on an initiative called BECOME (Black Experience of Clinical Trials and Opportunities of Meaningful Engagement) as part of the MBCA. She advocates for men and women in rural areas as well as her own for equal access to quality healthcare, treatment modalities, and resources. Stephanie works tirelessly to ensure that no one feels alone, isolated or defeated.
Member At Large
In March 2016, at 35 years old, Kate was diagnosed with de novo stage IV breast cancer; 5 years before she even reached the recommended age for a mammogram as touted by the early detection and awareness campaigns. Breast cancer does not run in her family and her lifestyle did not put her into a higher risk category – proof that no individual is immune from the risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. In addition to the two tumors in her breast, the cancer had metastasized to several spots on her spine, her pelvis and the top of her femur.
During the course of her chemotherapy treatments in 2016, multiple surgeries since diagnosis, and her continuing intravenous targeted monoclonal antibody treatments, Kate became acutely aware that the early detection approach is not working to reduce deaths from metastatic breast cancer – especially amongst women under 40. She is always mindful that due to drugs developed as a result of dedicated MBC research, her treatments are effective and for the time being her cancer is not active. She will remain in treatment for the rest of her life to insure it stays that way. However, these specific medications are only able to treat a certain subset of metastatic breast cancer. She is committed to fighting for increased funding for MBC research so that every patient has the opportunity to live to see the development of well-tolerated treatments that work for ALL of those diagnosed with the disease. She knows first-hand that these scientific breakthroughs are possible if the funding is there to support their development.
Kate has advocated for the needs of those living with MBC through participation in the annual Stage IV Stampede in Washington D.C. and she has led local efforts that raised over $35,000 for METAvivor in the last year. Additionally, she was the 2020 recipient of the Susan G. Komen Northeast Ohio “Jones-Hendryx Forever Fighter Award” as a result of her commitment to increased research funding, her advocacy work and coordination of local MBC patient support groups. Kate has also recently joined the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program and will serve as a consumer reviewer.
A graduate of Ohio University, Kate resides in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband of over a decade, Scott, their two perfect daughters and one very needy rescue dog, Ruby.
Dr. Jill Bargonetti, PhD.
City University of New York (CUNY) at the Graduate Center and Hunter College; Weill Cornell Medical College
Jill Bargonetti, Ph.D. is a native New Yorker who attended Hunter College Elementary School and High School and then transferred to the Bronx High School of Science. She earned her B.A. at the State University of New York College at Purchase and her Ph.D. at New York University and postdoctoral work at Columbia University. She serves as chair of the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology subprogram of the Ph.D. Program in Biology at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) and as professor of biological sciences at the CUNY Graduate Center, Hunter College and Weill Cornell Medical College. Since 1994, she has led the Bargonetti cancer biology laboratory, where her team is using genetically engineered tools to research breast cancer and other cancers.
Her areas of cancer expertise are on the p53 and MDM2/MDMX pathways and their relationships to cancer biology. She has 31 years of research experience with mutant p53 (mtp53), being a member of the group that first identified that oncogenic mtp53 lost its site-specific DNA binding ability. She has published research in prestigious scientific journals including Cell, Nature, Genes and Development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Cancer Research. She has served as a standing member of the Tumor Cell Biology study section grant review panel for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 2012 to 2018. She was a member of the National Cancer Policy Board from 2002-2005.
She has received research grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the Department of Defense. She has been honored by the U.S. government as an innovator in the education of minorities in science. Her awards include the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, from President Bill Clinton; the New York City Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology; the New York Voice Award (given to those who have made a significant improvement to the quality of life in New York City); the Kathy Keeton Mountain Top Award from the New York branch of the NAACP; the Outstanding Woman Scientist Award from the Association for Women in Science; the NYU Graduate School of Arts and Science and SUNY Purchase Outstanding Alumnae Achievement Awards and has been named to the Bronx High School of Science Hall of Fame. She was profiled by Working Mother magazine as one of the nation’s “Stellar Moms.” She is also working on integrating science education and movement and has developed a Hunter College course called “Choreographing Genomics”.
Her scientific work is currently funded by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Stuart. S. Martin, PhD.
Associate Professor at the Greenebaum Cancer Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore
Dr. Martin then did his postdoctoral training in Dr. Phil Leder’s Lab at Harvard Medical School where he combined functional genomic tissue culture systems with mouse models of breast cancer to examine how the cytoskeleton regulates tumor cell survival during metastasis.
In 2004, he joined the University of Maryland, as an Assistant Professor of Physiology in the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center to continue his work on breast tumor metastasis. In 2009, he was recognized from over 300 graduate faculty as the “Teacher of the Year” in the Graduate Program in Life Sciences, and received tenure in 2011.
Most normal epithelial cells undergo controlled cell-death if they ever detach from the mammary gland during development. His studies have found that metastatic breast tumor cells are not sensitive to this controlled cell-death and can therefore, survive longer when detached from the malignant breast tissue. This “detachment” in turn helps these “circulating tumor cells” spread to other secondary tissues (lungs, bone, brain, etc) and establish new metastatic growths.
Using the latest genomic and proteomics approach, Dr. Martin also investigates genes involved in the survival of these circulating tumor cells. An additional project in the Martin Lab focuses on understanding “tumor dormancy” using the latest live-imaging techniques. Dr. Martin can observe “dormant tumor cells” in live animals and study treatment/therapeutic responses of these cells during tumor dormancy. Dr. Martin’s lab also made the first discovery of unique “microtentacles” on breast tumor cells that increase the ability of circulating breast tumor cells to reattach in distant tissues during metastasis. In recent years, Dr. Martin’s group has published a series of pioneering articles defining the molecular characteristics of microtentacles and mechanisms to target them therapeutically to reduce metastasis.
Dr. Stuart Martin has published over 75 research articles and abstracts in cancer research, and is the recipient of many funded-grants from the NIH, Department of Defense and numerous private cancer research foundations. In 2010, Dr. Martin was one of three investigators nationwide to receive a Breast Cancer Era of Hope Scholar award from the congressionally-directed medical research program. Dr. Martin also holds patents on the microtentacle discoveries made by his group, and is looking to partner with biopharmaceutical companies for the development of new imaging technologies and drug treatments to reduce breast cancer metastasis.
Dr. Danny R Welch, PhD.
Founding Director of the University of Kansas Medical Center’s (KUMC) Department of Cancer Biology. Director of the NFCR’s (National Foundation for Cancer Research) Metastasis Research Center. Professor and Chair, Adjunct faculty of Department of Molecular & Integrative Physiology (KUMC).
Dr. Welch currently serves on the board of directors for the Cancer Biology Training Consortium and on the Extramural Scientific Advisory Board for the American Cancer Society. He is past president of the Metastasis Research Society, past chair of the National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute Cancer Genetics Study Section and has been actively involved with the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR).
The focus of Dr. Welch’s research is on the science of tumor progression and the regulation of cancer metastasis. His lab has developed and characterized many widely used metastasis models, discovering six of the 30 known metastasis suppressors. Dr. Welch was the recipient of the first METAvivor Research Grant.
Sonya joined the METAvivor team in 2016.
Hava Avraham, Ph.D.
Scientific Review Officer
Dr. Avraham is a Research Associate Professor at the Center of Drug Discovery (CDD) at Northeastern University (Boston). Dr. Avraham has extensive experience in cancer biology, cell biology, immunology, signal transduction and in vivo mice models for cancer pathophysiology. Dr. Avraham has more than 30 years of experience in the basic science and translational research in the field of oncology, resulting in more than 140 peered reviewed publications/articles.
Her current expertise is in the area of breast cancer progression, signaling pathways, cancer metastasis, and vascular biology, with the focus on the molecular mechanisms for cancer progression and breast metastasis development in the brain. Her research interests are: 1.The identification of cancer drivers responsible for breast and ovarian cancer growth originated from the tumor cells and the tumor niches; 2. The neurovascular unit (NVU) functions and brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMECs) and their modulation by triple negative breast cancer cells (TNBCs), following TNBC extravasation to the brain; and 3. Discovery and characterization of lipid based approaches for targeted therapy in breast cancer such as specific inhibitors for monoacylglycerol lipase (MGL) and N-acylethanolamine acid amidase (NAAA).
The major goals of her early career had been to conduct basic research to identify novel genes and pathways regulating hematopoiesis. During the past 25 years, her focus has been to determine the role of these genes in pathways in malignancy. Her research is in the area of signaling mechanisms that are essential for normal tissue growth and development, but are perturbed in cancer. Specifically, her lab has focused on signaling pathways of tyrosine kinases, such as CSK, CHK, SRC, FAK, RAFTK/Pyk2, ErbB-2 and VEGF receptors in breast cancer cells and the identification of molecular mechanisms important in breast cancer tumorigenesis and breast cancer metastasis to the brain.
Kristen joined the METAvivor team in 2019. She has an MBA from American Military University and is a U.S. Air Force Veteran.
Former Board Member, Deceased
Katherine (Kay) Ann Campbell, 66, passed away at home in Crofton, MD on July 29th, 2014 from Metastatic Breast Cancer. Born on June 19, 1948 in London, England to Joseph and Helen Droter. The family moved to the Washington DC area in 1952 where Kay attended LaReine High School. She graduated with a BA in Education from Frostburg and an MA in Education from Bowie. In 1988, she received her Master's in Library Science (MLS) from the University of Maryland. She began her career as a classroom teacher in Prince George's County, and after having her children, taught at Crofton Woods Elementary. Overcoming a severe case of Polymyositis, she recharged with her MLS degree and became the media specialist at Broadneck Elementary, and then transferred to Brooklyn Park Middle School, where she retired in 2010. Kay was a long term resident of Arnold, MD before moving to Crofton in 2001. Her interests included gardening - specifically perennials, nature and her numerous book clubs. She enjoyed her volunteer work with Partners in Care and more recently as Director of Support for Metavivors. Best known for her fierce resilience and sense of humor, she is survived by her children: Jason and Kristy Campbell of Eaton, CO and Tressa and Sean Doordan of Annapolis, MD. Her grandchildren: Samantha Campbell and Sean Patrick Doordan. Her siblings: Bob and Kathie Droter of New Market, MD, Peggy and Alain Dessaint of Sarasota, FL; Richard and Rita Droter of Hillcrest Heights, MD; and Tom Droter of Silver Spring MD.
Cecilia "Cece" Curry
Former Board Member, Deceased
On Sunday, June 2, 2013 Cecilia Curry of Upper Marlboro, MD passed away from metastatic breast cancer. Beloved wife of Anthony "Tony" Curry; daughter of Richard Shelton and William and Vera Primrose; daughter-in-law of Pastor William and Deserie Curry; sister of Nicki Reid; sister-in-law of William and Dawn Curry; loving aunt of Erica Little, Gabrielle Curry, Jacob Curry and Timothy Curry.
Former Board Member, Deceased
Co-Founder of METAvivor, Deceased
Avis Halberstadt, age 68, a 30 year resident of the St. Margaret's area, died on August 4, 2014 from metastatic (stage 4) breast cancer. The daughter of the late Ethel and Milton Levy, Avis grew up in New Bedford, MA. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1967 with a degree in English and Education and began her teaching career as a second grade teacher in Cambridge, MA. She and her devoted husband, Fred, were married in 1970. In 1985, after moving to the Annapolis area, Avis continued her teaching career at Shipley's Choice Elementary School, Magothy River Middle School, and Severna Park Middle School until her retirement in 2006. In 1990, Avis began an SAT and Math tutoring business that she continued until recently. Avis was a "people person" and spent her life helping others. Diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 1998, she became a dedicated volunteer for the Maryland Affiliate of Komen for the Cure, working on many committees and culminating in her role as Chairperson of the 2007 Maryland Race for the Cure. That same year, Avis had surgery for primary stomach cancer. In November of 2007, she joined Compass, a support group at Anne Arundel Medical Center (AAMC) for women with Stage 4 breast cancer. In 2009, she co-founded METAvivor Research and Support, a 501(c)3 non-profit for women and men with metastatic breast cancer, and served on their board, as well as being Treasurer and Fundraising Chair of the organization. Avis was also a member of the AAMC Institutional Review Board, which reviews all the clinical trials that doctors at AAMC seek to offer their patients, and was a member of the Board of Trustees of Scholarships for Scholars, a nonprofit organization that awards scholarships to graduating high school seniors in Anne Arundel County. In addition, she organized the Chesapeake Bay Book Club, a group of women that became devoted friends over the years. Survivors include her husband, Fred, their son, Adam and his wife Bruna of San Diego, CA, granddaughter Charlotte, sister Sandy (Mike) Cohen of Tucson, her nephews Keith, Todd (Bianca), Jack and Graham, and many other loving family members and dear friends.
Former Board Member, Deceased
Marlene King, 55, the wife of the Rev. Eric King, pastor of St. Matthews-New Life UMC in Baltimore, died from breast cancer Nov. 30, 2015.
Marlene Beverly Pusey was born Sept. 30, 1959, in Clarendon, Jamaica, the oldest daughter of the late Aston Samuel and Vioris (Gilfillian) Pusey. She came to the U.S. when she was 13. Her education included Montgomery Community College, Sojourner College and Morgan State University.
She and the Rev. Eric King married in 1985. While he pastored Ames UMC in Bel Air, 1998-2003, New Life UMC in Baltimore, 2004-2009; New Life-St. Matthews Cooperative Parish until 2012; and in January 2015, Metropolitan in West Baltimore, she was First Lady, advocating for the fulfillment of spiritual and social values for girls and women.
King also worked in various venues, including Johns Hopkins University, the American Red Cross and the University of Maryland on health policy and in the Department of Physical Therapy. After becoming a heart patient in 1998, she served as a heart health advocate and spokesperson for the American Heart Association.
King was first diagnosed in 2008 and since then had a lumpectomy, a double-mastectomy, and had undergone breast reconstructive surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. In July 2012 she was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic cancer, which had spread to her chest wall, lungs and sternum
King was president of The Journey Continues Breast Cancer Organization and a board member of METAvivor Research & Support, Inc. She was a well-known speaker and advocate on breast cancer. In 2012, she was told she only had a few months to live, but she was determined to stay the course and fight.
And fight she did. In late 2014, the Baltimore Examiner quoted her, “I am still here; still fighting for my life, and still holding on to hope.” She added, “I thank God every day for waking me up. It’s something you think about and are really grateful for when you don’t have that much longer to live. I am not a cancer survivor, but a cancer warrior. I will continue to fight. Either way it will be alright.”
Survivors include her husband of 30 years, the Rev. Eric King, sons Eric King II of New York, Bryant King and Aston King, both of Baltimore; two grandchildren and several siblings as well as a number of nieces and nephews and great nephews and great nieces.
Former Board Member, Deceased
Pam has spent the majority of her career utilizing her entrepreneurial skills helping to build start-up Biotech companies. In 2008, she started her own business. Through her consulting group, she provides strategic guidance to patient advocacy groups and biotech companies in the US and Internationally. Her broad background has allowed her to assist non-profit foundations enhance their programs, funding strategies, and organizational capabilities. She understands the importance of advancing research, education, and especially the strength of the patient voice,
Personally and professionally, Pam has been relentless in her efforts as a patient advocate. She now turns that determination towards serving METAvivor, and joining the fight to drive research and reduce deaths from breast cancer.
Residing in Jamestown RI with her husband, Pam stays active golfing, boating and taking long walks with her two dogs.
Former Board Member, Deceased
Jane R. Levitt, 58, of Millersville, died January 4, 2012 at home with her family after living with breast cancer for the past 6 years. Born October 28, 1953 in Baltimore to the late George and Violet Doxzen. Jane graduated from Dundalk High School in 1971 and Catonsville Community College in 1973. Various careers include TWA, customer service; AACS, Administrator; Homestead Gardens, Nursery; MD Dept of Health, Administrative Assistant. A longtime resident of Severna Park, she loved being outdoors. She treasured gardening and was an active part of various local Garden Clubs. She was an avid cyclist who rode with the Severna Park Peloton. Jane was a member of Severna Park EP Church. Jane was a board member for the METAvivors, a metastatic breast cancer research and support organization. Jane is survived by her beloved husband, James; her son Daniel; her daughter Elizabeth; her brother George Doxzen II of Dagsborough, DE; and her sister Tony Hayden of Norfolk, UK.
Doris Ann Price
Former Board Member, Deceased
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of METAvivor friend, supporter, Ambassador and Board member, Doris Ann Price. Doris Ann lived eleven years with her metastasis, despite an extensive spread of her cancer to multiple organs. She went public with her journey early on, pushing insurance companies to support the drug choice of the patient-oncologist team. She gave great support to patients through her work with the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF), sharing her knowledge, experience, compassion and guidance with other metastatic breast cancer patients, empowering them on their own journey living with metastatic breast cancer. For her years of work with NPAF, Doris Ann was awarded the National Patient Advocate Courage and Dedication Award in 2016.
Those like Doris Ann, who were diagnosed metastatic over ten years ago when social media was not widely used found it hard to connect. It was hard work communicating with and helping others under the circumstances, yet Doris Ann always found a way.
Once she learned of METAvivor she volunteered and soon took on a leadership role as METAvivor’s Southeast US Ambassador Program. Her region was a tremendous success story. Dedicated and motivated, Doris Ann quickly became an invaluable asset to our organization as a member of our Board of Directors.
Doris Ann’s ability to reach out to people, make them comfortable, determine their needs and help was unmatched. And her vivacious personality, bright red lipstick and whimsical MBC dolls made her a favorite with all her knew her.
Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to her family and especially her loving, loyal and compassionate husband, Aaron Price who also serves as a METAvivor Board Member.
Doris Ann will be greatly missed by our entire team … and by MBC patients around the world. Rest in peace dear friend and colleague.
Former Board Member, Deceased
Lori Marx-Rubiner of Encino, CA served diligently on the METAvivor Board of Directors in 2014 and 2015. We thank her for her excellent service. Lori blogs at https://regrounding.me/.
Co-Founder of METAvivor, Deceased
KAREN B. PRESSWOOD passed away on August 20, 2009. The beloved wife of Allen L. Presswood; loving mother of Jennifer and Kelsey Presswood; sister of Barbara Sniffin.
Co-Founder of METAvivor, Deceased
Rhonda S. Rhodes, 51, a 23 year resident of Annapolis, previously of Beltsville, died at home on Jan. 11, 2010.
She was born May 22, 1958, in Beltsville to Bette Jo Oxley Sturgill and Blaine Sturgill.
She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Maryland, College Park. She worked in government and private health care policy consulting.
She was a member of St. Martin's Lutheran Church, and was the co-founder of Metavivor. She enjoyed spending time with her family, going to beaches, especially Hatteras Island, N.C. She also enjoyed skiing, reading, good food, and good friends.
She is survived by her husband, David T. Rhodes, whom she married in 1987; and two sons, Matthew T. and Jonathan D. Rhodes of the home.
Former Board Member, Deceased
Patricia B. Tomaselli, 63 years old, a 14 year resident of Annapolis, MD, lost her battle to Metastasized Breast Cancer on October 4, 2011. She was born in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1948. She attended University of Pittsburg and Pepperdine University earning a MBA.
Diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer to the bone in 2007, Patricia "Pat" Tomaselli was the former Sector Director of Security for Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems. She was a 35 year employee of the corporation, beginning her career with the Westinghouse Electric Company in Buffalo NY, Pittsburgh PA, New York City and Sunnyvale California before the acquisition by Northrop Grumman in 1996. She became Sector Director in 1998 with the responsibility for both classified and physical security operations in 35 states and 29 countries. She stepped down from that position for health reasons in 2007 and entered the disability ranks in 2009. Pat has been an active voice in Industry associations as the former chairman of the Security Committee of the Aerospace Industries Association and the National Defense Industry Assn. She was chosen by Industry and the Department of Defense to represent Defense Contractors on a Government Board called the NISPPAC from 2001 to 2005 and in 2007 won the Donald Woodbridge Award for Security Excellence, one of the highest individual honors in the Security industry. In 2009 she and a team of colleagues won the Northrop Grumman's highest honor, the Chairman's Award, for their support of the three employees kidnapped in Colombia for five and a half years.
Pat lived with her granddaughter, Kya, in Annapolis, where she sponsored four midshipmen of the US Naval Academy. She also volunteered at Annapolis High School. Pat was deeply involved in Metavivor, a non-profit organization for research and support of patients that have Metastatic Breast Cancer. As Director of Support she was deeply involved with this fantastic organization. Pat, loving mother of, Tabetha (Matthew) Bokovoy of Lincoln, Nebraska and Tara Masterson of Washington, D.C. and grandmother of Kya Masterson, Kestrel Carr, Spencer Bokovoy and Brothers Hugh (Kathy) Blake, Dennis Blake and Frank DeSabio and the many nephews, nieces and nine cousins. She is proceeded in death by her parents Josephine and Hugh Blake and her sister Maureen DeSabio. We like to also acknowledge the incredible support of the Hospice of the Chesapeake for their compassionate care, friendship and guidance through this journey.
Former Board Member, Deceased
Monica brought passion and compassion to everything she did. She loved experiencing the wonder of new places and people and spending time in her native New Jersey with her daughter, Olivia and husband, Aaron.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts – Magna Cum Laude from Rutgers University and a Masters in Business from Drexel University.
Monica spent most of her professional career in Sales and Marketing at Johnson & Johnson’s in the Medical Device Division where she had a strong track record for developing high performoring people and businesses.
She also served on the Board of The AIDS Resource Foundation for Children, a non-profit that provides comprehensive family-centered services to individuals, families, and children affected by HIV/AIDS and other social and health-related barriers.
Monica felt compelled to do what she could to make Metastastic Breast Cancer a manageable chronic condition and was honored to be part of the Board of METAvivor Research and Support Inc.
Monica lived for 22 months after her stage 4 diagnosis and will be missed by many.
Former Board Member
Former Board Member, Deceased
Briana peacefully passed Tuesday, September 9th at her home.
Former Board Member
Leslie Falduto is a registered nurse and was diagnosed with early stage, triple positive, breast cancer at the age of 31. She had been married for 3 years and her oldest son was two years old. After many chemotherapy treatments, radiation, and surgeries, she got the “all clear scan” in 2011. Leslie has always been passionate about health and healthy living, so she trained and ran in two half marathons after treatment. Leslie and her family welcomed their second son a few year later.
In 2014, Leslie discovered her breast cancer had metastasized. While working in the Neonatal ICU, she had a grand mal seizure. That is when she found out that breast cancer had spread to her brain, lung, and spine. This is also when Leslie discovered METAvivor and began volunteering for them.
Today, Leslie is passionate about educating others on MBC, became a registered yoga teacher, and lives life to the fullest. She has been involved with the DOD as a consumer reviewer for their BCRP, been a patient ambassador, a peer advocate for a researcher, and has participated in several other panels and events to raise awareness about MBC.
Her goal remains to be a voice for those who cannot, educate others on MBC, and continue to make memories with her husband and sons. And yoga, lots of yoga.
Former Board Member, Deceased
Karin passed peacefully on June 6, 2020
Karin Petrocelli, was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer to lung and lymph nodes in 2012.
Karin Petrocelli has worked extensively as a survivor/patient advocate for breast cancer awareness and research funding since her initial Stage I breast cancer diagnosis in 2007. Karin became even more involved with advocacy and fundraising after her Stage IV breast cancer diagnosis in 2012. By blogging about her journey on Facebook (My Life with Metastatic Breast Cancer by Karin Petrocelli), in addition to guiding new and existing breast cancer patients, Karin educates her followers about the difference between early stage breast cancer and MBC, as well as the dire need for research funding. In her blog, she openly discusses all aspects of living with this disease, and how it affects not only herself but her entire family and friends. In addition to educating others, Karin continues to educate herself on all aspects of MBC, which helps her to educate others. Karin’s extensive understanding of MBC, as well as her positive effect with online support groups led her to become a Peer-To-Peer leader for MBC patients in southwest Florida for METAvivor.
Karin has eight years of experience in fundraising and event planning, and she is the founder of the Southwest Florida Metsquerade. The SWFL Metsquerade raised over $190,000 for MBC research in its first two years. She joined the Board of Directors of METAvivor in 2019.
Karin was born in Sweden and came to the US in 1990. She is a licensed Clinical Microbiologist with medical knowledge in Histology and Hematology as well. Karin now lives in Estero, Florida with her husband Vinny, and their four daughters, where they enjoy the Florida beaches and boating on the Gulf of Mexico.
Former Board Member
Diagnosed Stage 1 in 2007, Michael was plunged into a foreign world – Breast Cancer. Within a few months following his diagnosis Michael discovered that he was BRCA2 positive. What followed was a time of denial, fear and a struggle to reach that magical 5 year mark where he believed he would be cured of cancer.
But with a recurrence in 2010 of Stage 1, Michael hit the wall of reality and knew it was time to face this disease. Taking an early retirement from his elementary teaching career in June 2012, Michael explored a new path. That November he began to write about his journey as a man living with breast cancer. In June 2014 Michael self-published his book, Healing Within: My Journey with Breast Cancer. Contacted by the Male Breast Cancer Coalition, Michael shared his story along with other male survivors and began his advocacy by speaking to various groups in upstate New York where he lives, writing about his breast cancer experiences for the anticancerclub.com and periodically co-hosting their video program CancerBlab/ CancerTalk, and hosting his own radio program on dreamvisions7radio.com.
In September 2015, Michael learned that his cancer had spread. He was now part of a breast cancer community he knew little about – the Metastatic community. Michael’s advocacy grew to teach, inform and connect others to the needs and concerns of those living with MBC and educating women and men that not only do men get Breast Cancer, men get Metastatic Breast Cancer.
Michael’s participation in METAvivior’s October 2017 Stage IV Stampede in Washington, DC cemented a connection to this amazing organization and the many passionate individuals who make up this community. He joined the METAvivior Board in January 2018.
Michael lives with his partner, Tim, in Greenwich, NY. His life is filled with advocacy, gardening, reading, time with Tim, friends and family, snowshoeing, and peaceful walks with their dog, Polar, in the fields surrounding their old farmhouse.
Former Board Member, Deceased
Chawnte Randall passed November 12, 2020
Chawnte is a mother and Army veteran who currently works for the federal government. In October 2017 Chawnte was diagnosed with Stage 2 triple-negative, invasive breast cancer. April 2019, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic triple-negative breast cancer. Chawnte received radiation therapy for her bone lesions initially but after progression to her liver; Chawnte enrolled in a clinical trial at John’s Hopkins.
Since her initial diagnosis, Chawnte has become an advocate within the breast cancer community and participates in a variety of activities focused on mentoring young women diagnosed with breast cancer. As an African American woman who is living with metastatic breast cancer, Chawnte began to educate herself on the different statistics in the breast cancer community. When she discovered that women of color (African American) were 40% more likely to die or have unfavorable outcomes after a breast or metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, Chawnte was shocked and determined to help change this statistic. Whether it be access to care issues, education issues, monetary issues, and distrust of the medical community due to past historical abuse; all tied together not only yields higher mortality rates but also lower participation in clinical trials. Chawnte hopes to bridge the gap between the medical/scientific community and the breast cancer/metastatic breast cancer community to make effective change to the outcomes disparities for women of color.
Chawnte’ is a Tigerlilly Angel Advocate, LBBC Young Advocate, an individual member of the MBCA and serves on several planning committees for various organizations. She is a co-host for Our MBC Life podcast and part of several patient advocate initiatives. Chawnte’ She also serves on the patient advisory panel for John’s Hopkins and Astra Zeneca.
Former Board President
“Beth”, as she is known to family and friends, has built a successful carer as an artist, her medium, tattoo pigments. Beth’s formal training and area of focus has been permanent cosmetics, scar camouflage, and areola restoration for breast cancer patients.
Originally from Greensboro, NC, in 2008 she moved to Scranton, PA, where she married her colleague and friend. There, they build a string of studios and organized an internationally recognized tattoo convention which is held annually in Atlantic City, NJ.
In 2011 Beth returned to NC, settling near the coast in New Bern, where she and her husband opened their fifth tattoo studio location. Although the recent diagnosis of MBC has slowed her down, Beth continues to work as an artist and producer, and has since added fierce MBC advocate to her resume.
Beth is the mother of two daughters and two German Shepherd dogs.