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2014 Gallery of Hope Honors Breast Cancer Survivors, Encourages Education and Awareness

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By: Christine Zavaskas
January 14, 2014
Pictured above is the 2014 Gallery of Hope traveling 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 14th 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 2014 Gallery is available to exhibit throughout northeastern and north central Pennsylvania.

Luzerne County Honorees

Maria Jiunta Heck, of West Pittston, was always conscientious about getting her mammograms, but when her mother passed away from cancer in 2009, she became extra vigilant.  A few months after her mother’s death, Maria noticed a lump during a self-exam that was later diagnosed as Stage 1 breast cancer.  

To cope with her emotions throughout treatment, Maria wrote about her experience in her regular column in the Pittston Dispatch, often using humor to make the subject easier to address.  In addition to her writing, Maria developed a unique pillow design to ease seatbelt discomfort after her surgery.  She now sells the pillow online to other surgical patients and donates them to nonprofits such as The Center for Cancer Wellness, Candy’s Place.

When Susan Generose, of Hazle Township, detected a lump during her monthly self-exam in September of 2012, she was juggling a full-time career and caring for her teenage daughter and her son, who has special needs.  She faced her diagnosis of invasive Stage 1 breast cancer head on, continuing to work full-time through chemotherapy and electing to have a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in a single procedure.

With strong support from her family, Susan did not allow her experience with breast cancer to slow her down.  Instead, yet another role was added to her busy life: that of an awareness advocate.  She has shared her story at American Cancer Society fundraising events, advising other busy women to pay attention to their health and “Eat healthy, be active, and stay positive!”

Other Honorees

In addition to Generose and Heck, the 2014 Gallery of Hope recognizes:

  • Marianne Burke, of Archbald, Lackawanna County, a retired nurse, grandmother of three, and past Board member for the local American Cancer Society chapter.
  • Barbara Connolly, of Scranton, Lackawanna County, a mother of five, artist, and community volunteer who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29.
  • Lynn Harrison, of Stroudsburg, Monroe County, an administrative assistant, tax collector, and grandmother of three who enjoys golfing in charity tournaments.
  • Joann Kay, of Williamsport, Lycoming County, a grandmother of four and community volunteer who has worked in the human services field for 36 years.
  • Judy Lachat, of Lock Haven, Clinton County, an employee of Woolrich, Inc., grandmother of three, and two-time cancer survivor.
  • Jane Longazel, of Jim Thorpe, Carbon County, a residential treatment program director who volunteers regularly as a member of the Lehighton Area Lioness Lions Club.
  • Linda Patterson, of Wellsboro, Tioga County, a registered nurse, grandmother of six, and active volunteer.
  • Patricia Schucker, of Columbia Cross Roads, Bradford County, a mother of three and surgical technician who provides support to other newly diagnosed women.

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 To receive year-round updates about BCNEPA’s breast cancer education efforts, search for "Gallery of Hope – Blue Cross of NEPA" on Facebook and like our page.

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.