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2012 Gallery of Hope Honors Breast Cancer Survivors, Encourages Education and Awareness

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By: Anthony Matrisciano
February 6, 2012
Traveling display features personal survival stories.

Traveling display features personal survival stories

February 6, 2012, Wilkes-Barre, PA — 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 two Luzerne County residents.

Melody Collins, a resident of Wyoming, was 30 years old when she received the news that the lump in her breast was diagnosed as stage IIIC cancer.

During her treatments, Collins’ family and church became her support system, and her commitment to a healthy diet and exercise remained strong. Appreciative of the support she’s received, Collins wants to support other cancer patients in their fight, too.  She’s returned to school to earn a Masters Degree in Social Work, redirecting her career to helping others.

Collins’ message to others is “young women can and do get breast cancer.  If something doesn’t feel right, push for definitive answers.”

Hazleton resident Carmine Swirble still remembers her physician’s words when she was first told she had breast cancer more than 20 years ago.  “He said that the cancer will either beat me or I will beat the cancer,” recalls Swirble.  And beating cancer is exactly what she did.

“Eating during treatment was the hardest part for me,” she says.  And as head cook at the Hazleton General Hospital, Swirble knows all about the importance of good nutrition during recovery.

That’s how Food for the Fight got its start. Now in its 18th year, Food for the Fight is held at Hazleton General Hospital during Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October.  It’s a night of food and fun designed to educate women about healthy eating during cancer recovery.

Inspired by the song You’ll Never Walk Alone, Swirble intends to see to it that women fighting cancer in her community know “they are not alone.”

Other Honorees

In addition to Collins and Swirble, the 2012 Gallery of Hope recognizes:

  • Carol Reed, of Lake Ariel, Wayne County, an Assistant Professor of Mathematics who was diagnosed with cancer at age 34.
  • Carmina Rinkunas, of 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.
  • Sandra Connor, of Clifford, Susquehanna County, who is a two-time cancer survivor and grandmother of five.
  • Melissa Telesk, of Factoryville, Wyoming County, who is a pre-school teacher and mother of two.
  • Jayne Reynolds, of Montoursville, Lycoming County, who is a grandmother of five and a snowbird who stays busy as a seasonal worker at Disney World.
  • Kelli Mercurio, of Stroudsburg, Monroe County, who is a social worker and the mother of two.
  • Carol Miele, of Albrightsville, Monroe County, a retired Registered Nurse and a mother of two whose poetry was published in the nationally recognized Living Beyond Breast Cancer newsletter.
  • Cheryl Scartelli, of Tafton, Pike County, who is a retirement consultant and a mother of two.

About the Gallery of Hope

Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania created the Gallery of Hope in 2000. The 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, please contact Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania through the Gallery of Hope website at

About Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Headquartered in Wilkes-Barre, Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BCNEPA offers a comprehensive portfolio of health insurance products and administrative services to more than 540,000 individuals in 13 counties in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. The company’s mission is to provide innovative wellness solutions that increase access to high-quality, affordable health care and promote personal accountability.