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A Comprehensive Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Internal Advisory Community Subcommittee

The Community Subcommittee of the Internal Advisory Committee comprises eight dedicated breast cancer advocates who regularlycommunicate with SPORE investigators and provide input on relevant research projects.

Ilana Cohen is a young cancer survivor who is an advocate for the Breast Cancer SPORE and for the Department of Defense (DoD) Breast Cancer Center of Excellence Award. Cohen is a 2006 graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Project LEAD, a science training course for advocates, and has been a consumer reviewer for the DoD Breast Cancer Research Program since 2006. In addition, she is an active member of the advocacy committee for the Breast Cancer Network of Strength and serves as a peer counselor for the network's 24-hour hotline.

Alicia Cook is an African American breast cancer survivor who was diagnosed at the age of 34 and subquently received treatment through a clinical trial. For 8 years, she worked for the Cancer & Leukemia Group B assisting in the audit of clinical trials. Cook also worked for The University of Chicago’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for 5 years during which she reviewed clinical trials and consent forms and attended IRB meeting to ensure research subjects were protected as required by federal regulations. Given her personal experience and having a family history of breast and ovarian cancers, Cook is particularly concerned with breast cancer prevention in the African American population and with encouraging participation in clinical trials.

Shirley Mertz is a two-time survivor of breast cancer and a 5-year survivor of metastatic disease. She is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition's Project LEAD, a breast cancer science training course, and a graduate of Quality Care Project LEAD, which analyzes quality healthcare and how to improve breast cancer care. Mertz has been a consumer reviewer for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. She is also an active member of the legislative initiatives committee for the Breast Cancer Network of Strength and has successfully lobbied the Governor of Illinois to declare October 13, 2008, as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. As the American Cancer Society's LEAD Ambassador to the 10th Congressional District in Illinois, Mertz received the Distinguished Service Award in Advocacy in 2008.

Bev Parker, PhD, is a three-time, 25-year breast cancer survivor having had both invasive carcinoma (including a recurrence) and ductal carcinoma in situ. She is a long-time volunteer peer counselor for the Breast Cancer Network of Strength (formerly Y-ME) hotline and for the American Cancer Society's Reach to Recovery program. For 6 years, Parker work as a paid staff member for Y-ME as the hotline director and as a research analyst. As a patient advocate, she serves on the University of Southern California/University of Chicago Breast Cancer Center of Excellence, and as a grant reviewer for the Department of Defense, California Breast Cancer Research Program, and Komen for the Cure. She is a graduate of Project LEAD, Quality Care LEAD, and Clinical Trials Project LEAD of the National Breast Cancer Coalition and has completed the Scientist↔Survivor Program of the American Association for Cancer Research.  She earned her PhD in public health from the University of Illinois at Chicago, with her dissertation on a qualitative study of male breast cancer.

Amalia Rigoni is a 9-year breast cancer survivor. She a 1980 graduate of Loyola University of Chicago with a bachelor of science degree in psychology. Rigoni is the contact center supervisor for the Breast Cancer Network of Strength's 24/7 Hotline. She also conducts the peer support 2-day training class for volunteers. Her advocacy efforts include numerous interviews with ABC News, Telemundo, Fox 9 television, American Journal of Medicine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Good Housekeeping magazine. She says she has come full circle in her breast cancer journey and her personal mission is to help breast cancer patients and their caregivers. She participates in the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Symposium and has served three times as a consumer reviewer for the Congressionally directed medical research programs for the Department of Defense.  

Rosemarie Rogers is a 15-year breast cancer survivor and was recently assigned to the UChicago Breast Cancer SPORE. She is a graduate of the National Breast Cancer Coalition's Project Lead, Quality Care, and Clinical Trial courses. She has been assigned to the Susan Love Advisory Committee, peer review for the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, Susan Komen Foundation, and the Indiana Breast Tissue Bank. She is also an advocacy volunteer for the Breast Cancer Network of Strength.

Carole Segal is a breast cancer activist and major philanthropist for the UCCCC. She is a member of the MacLean Center on Clinical Ethics. She has been an active enthusiast of the imaging center at the UCMC and has supported translational research in breast imaging, especially MRI research. In addition, she has been a supporter and advocate of translational research in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research.

Kay Wissmann has worked as a patient advocate for the past 4 years on the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Center of Excellence Award. She brings first-hand experience to the committee, having been diagnosed three times with mammographically detectable breast cancer. Wissmann has also been a consumer reviewer and an adhoc reviewer for The University of Chciago's Developmental Research Program.

Emidee Wozniak has been a valuable patient resource for the past 11 years for The University of Chicago's chemotherapy infusion clinic. Wozniak he is a 14-year breast cancer survivor and uses her personal experience to support the research effort as a member of the UCCCC Clinical Trials Review Committee.