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2013 Gallery of Hope Honors Breast Cancer Survivors, Encourages Education and Awareness

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By: Anthony Matrisciano
February 6, 2013
Pictured above is the 2013 Gallery of Hope travelling display.

Traveling display features personal survival stories 

Wilkes-Barre, PA — Ten northeastern Pennsylvania residents recently shared their personal experiences with breast cancer as a way to inspire others who are facing the disease. Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania (BCNEPA) has collected their stories and photos for the company’s 13th 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 2013 Gallery is available to exhibit throughout northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

Luzerne County Honorees

A routine mammogram caught Swoyersville resident Lorraine Cwalina’s cancer in early 2011.  Her commitment to staying active throughout treatment and recovery remained strong.  As a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins season ticket holder, Lorraine rarely missed a game.  Now that she is cancer-free, Lorraine still participates in the Standing Strong cancer survivor exercise class at Candy’s Place in Forty Fort, and continues to emphasize the importance of support for "life after cancer."

When Kelly Valovich of Hazle Township found a lump in her breast in 2009, she almost dismissed it as nothing, but an article about breast cancer prompted her to contact her physician. A subsequent biopsy confirmed she had stage 2 breast cancer.

Kelly credits the use of social media for helping her stay positive on her road to recovery, finding hope and support by interacting with other survivors on Facebook and keeping a blog.  She also joined with friends to form the NEPA Survivors Group, which organizes fundraisers for local causes.  In honor of Kelly’s courageous fight, the group coordinated a 60 mile motorcycle run in the summer of 2011 that raised $5,000 to benefit the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition.

Other Honorees

In addition to Cwalina and Valovich, the 2013 Gallery of Hope recognizes:

  • Cindy Dalton, of Wellsboro, Tioga County, who has survived breast cancer twice and who facilitates a support group in her community.
  • Caroline Merino, of Taylor, Lackawanna County, a mother of five who recently competed in the Dirty Girl Mud Run®.
  • Brenda Smellowsky, of Jim Thorpe, Carbon County, a radiologic technologist who encourages all women to be vigilant about routine screenings.
  • Carolyn Mosher, of Columbia Cross Roads, Bradford County, a horse lover and rider who organized a breast cancer fund raiser last year.
  • Paula Heller-Hahn, of Stroudsburg, Monroe County, an avid NASCAR fan who participates in local Pink Light Walks and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
  • Sharon Dapp, of Muncy, Lycoming County, a mother of two who has survived breast cancer twice.
  • Renee Fries, of Honesdale, Wayne County, who discovered she had breast cancer after her very first mammogram.
  • Cathy Franko, of Tunkhannock, Wyoming County, a reading assistant and mother of twins who found out she had cancer on her 43rd birthday.

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.