Survivors Who Inspire: Pete and Bonnie


Pete (left) pictured with Bonnie (right) on March 12 at Cokesbury Village

Pete Quayle is 91 years old, but after a few moments together you’d believe she’s nearly half that age! She’s active and a great listener, with a heart of gold.

Pete was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago. She was no stranger to the disease, her sister had passed away from breast cancer many years earlier. Pete’s tumor showed up on a routine mammogram. It was early stage and so small that she couldn’t even feel it. When determining her course of treatment, she was told she was the “poster child” for savi, a newer, 5-day radiation using a bundle of tubes to deliver therapy from inside the breast. She went through treatment and was on the road to recovery. Just 1 month later her granddaughter was diagnosed.

Pete thinks of her breast cancer as a gift. It helped her provide understanding and support to her granddaughter, facing her own battle with the same disease. Pete then became a trained peer mentor through the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, so she could help others going through breast cancer with a similar diagnosis, treatment plan, or stage of life. She has mentored a handful of women, including Bonnie Siley.

When Bonnie was diagnosed with breast cancer in May of 2016 she was very surprised. She was the first in her family to have breast cancer. Her doctor gave her a few treatment options, one of which was savi. Unsure, Bonnie called the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, looking for some guidance. She was connected to a trained peer mentor, close to her age, with a similar diagnosis, and that mentor was Pete. Pete told Bonnie about her positive experience with savi and provided her with background about what to expect. Bonnie went through her treatment and nearly two years later, she is healthy and happy.

What blossomed over the course of Pete and Bonnie’s breast cancer journeys has become a real friendship. They get together for lunch throughout the year. Pete recently visited DBCC’s Great Stuff Savvy Resale for some retail therapy, where Bonnie is a loyal volunteer. These women have supported each other and today, share a vigorous bond that connects all breast cancer survivors.

Pete was recently told by her doctor she could stop getting annual mammograms but she is not interested in stopping anytime soon! Long live tenacious, kindhearted women like Pete and Bonnie. DBCC is proud to have played a small role in connecting their lives and will continue to help newly diagnosed patients so they do not have to face breast cancer alone.

If you or someone you know has been recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, visit or call 1-866-312-DBCC to get your peer mentor, and so much more!


“Save Second Base” with the Wilmington Blue Rocks was a Great Success!

On Wednesday, July 12th, Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition held its annual breast cancer awareness game with the Wilmington Blue Rocks. There are so many great things to talk about from the game. To start, the Blue Rocks played the Lynchburg Hillcats at home and WON 5 to 4! The game went 13 innings! 

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Not only was the game a win for the Blue Rocks, but it was also a victory for our breast cancer survivors! Tickets were free for survivors and the Blue Rocks allowed them to come onto the field for a High Five Tunnel with the players before the game. A two-time survivor, Cindy, even brought her daughter Liorha to throw the first pitch!

It was a family friendly event that made everyone feel good! There were raffles and auctions for the uniforms the Blue Rocks were wearing. What made these jerseys special was that the players wore pink. People may have also seen the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition table selling merchandise throughout the night. And our friends at WJBR came out with special prizes and games for the occasion.

All around the game was amazing and a success for so many reasons:

  • Our section was rocking pink to show support
  • It was fun to watch the game and see the Blue Rocks win
  • Survivors Recognition was in full force
  • It was for kids and adults alike and everyone had a great time

Thank you so much for coming out to this wonderful event! We hope you will plan to join us again next year! Check our event schedule for more happening in your neighborhood!

Hispanic Heritage Month Featuring: Maria Lopez

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition is honoring Hispanic Survivor: Maria Lopez!


Maria Lopez was born in Chiapas, Mexico. Married with 3 children, she has been living in Millsboro, DE for the past 14 years. She was always up to date with her annual mammogram, but for 2 years she felt a lump that was never detected. After insisting to her doctor that she felt a lump on her left breast and asking for additional screenings, Maria was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer in 2014 . It was stage 4.

At the beginning of her breast cancer journey, Maria had lot of side effects. She felt so much pain and weakness. She went through 17 sessions of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Nowadays, Maria continues to visit her doctor every 6 months. She is a homemaker and lives with her husband and daughter Priscilla (pictured above).

During Hispanic Heritage Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Maria encourages other Hispanic women to screen early, have faith in God, and keep fighting for those surviving the disease. She wants women to find out about their family history for breast cancer by filling out the DBCC’s Family Health History Tree. Maria’s aunt had stomach cancer so she knows some cancer runs in her family.

Maria also offers encouragement to other women who are beginning their breast cancer journey. She says, “You are going to fight this, and you will come out victorious!” She also thanks God and her oncology doctor for her recovery and surviving breast cancer. In her own words she said, “Christ gives me strength.”



Maria Lopez nació en Chiapas, México. Casada y con tres hijos, Maria ha vivido en Millsboro, DE por los últimos 14 años. Como siempre, ella estaba al tanto con su mamografía anual pero por dos años sentía una bolita que nunca fue detectada durante su revisión. Maria fue diagnosticada con un tipo de cáncer de seno muy agresivo en el 2014 después de insistirle a su doctor en someterse a pruebas adicionales ya que sentía un bulto en su seno izquierdo.

Durante el inicio de su tratamiento, Maria lo describe como doloroso, con muchos síntomas y con una debilidad muy fuerte. Se sometió a 17 sesiones de quimioterapia y radioterapia cuando el cáncer fue detectado en etapa 4. Actualmente, Maria continua visitando a su doctor cada 6 meses, es ama de casa y vive con su esposo y su hija Priscila (en la foto).

Durante el mes de la Herencia Hispana y el mes de la Sensibilización del Cáncer de Seno, Maria invita a otras mujeres Hispanas que se sometan a pruebas de cáncer a tiempo, tengan fe en Dios y que sigan luchando las personas que han sido diagnosticadas con esta enfermedad. La tía de Maria padeció de cáncer en el estómago y quiere que otras mujeres también usen el Árbol Genealógico de la Salud para así aprender sobre las enfermedades que corren en la familia.

Así mismo, Maria también ofrece apoyo a esas mujeres pasando por la misma situación. Les dice “¡Van a vencer la enfermedad, van a salir victoriosas!”. También agradece a Dios y su oncólogo por su mejoramiento y recuperación en sobrevivir esta enfermedad, en sus propias palabras ella dice “Cristo me fortalece”.

Do More 24 … with DBCC and United Way!

Do you want to create positive change throughout the state of Delaware? If yes, join us for Do More 24!



Do More 24 is Delaware’s first community day of giving campaign. This online fundraiser will begin at 12:01 AM and end at 11:59 PM on June 2nd. The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition is participating in the Do More 24 Delaware campaign, which is powered by United Way of Delaware. The innovative fundraiser will bring together more than 250 nonprofits that serve the entire state. We hope you will join us for Do More 24 Delaware by supporting our organization. Here are some ways you can help:
  1. Donate. On June 2nd, go to
  2. Spread the word. Ask your friends and family to join you in creating positive change on June 2nd.
  3. Share our stories. Visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and help us spread the word about donating to the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition on June 2 for Do More 24!
If you are thinking to yourself.. there are so many worthwhile nonprofits in Delaware to help on June 2 …why should I give to DBCC? We thought you might ask that! Instead of us telling you about all the great local programs and services we provide to the community, it might be helpful to hear from our friend and breast cancer survivor, Lori Holveck, pictured below with her daughter and son.

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Breast Cancer Update Was Great Success

Just about 300 people attended this year’s 19th Annual Breast Cancer Update held at Dover Downs Hotel and Rollins Conference Center on April 13. This year’s theme, Personalized Medicine: Not Your Grandmother’s Breast Cancer, focused on new methods of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, and more personalized options.

The morning sessions included informative talks about advances in diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer from Kevin Fox, M.D., Director, Rena Rowan Breast Cancer and Mariann T. and Robert J. MacDonald Professor in Breast Cancer Care Excellence, University of Pennsylvania, a look at what kind of research is being done here in Delaware by Jennifer Sims-Mourtada, Ph.D., Senior Clinical Scientist, Helen F Graham Cancer Center at Christiana Care Health System, and a look at complementary medicine including naturopathic practices by Marie Winters, ND, FABNO, Manager of Naturopathic Medicine, Cancer Treatment Centers of America and spirituality by Drew Angus, DMin, Director of Spiritual Outreach, Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

New this year was a look at breast reconstruction and nipple recreation. Erik Hoy, M.D., Plastic Surgeon, Premier Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery and Mandy Sauler, CPCP, Micropigmentation Specialist, Owner, CosMed Tattoo, LLC, both spoke about reconstruction after surgery and nipple recreation via tattooing. If you liked Mandy’s talk, you might enjoy this short video from Penn Medicine as well.IMG_9535

The day ended with a survivor panel with three local survivors sharing their stories, Barbie Andrews, Cheris Reed, and Holly Thatcher. This is always one of the most touching parts of the day and a favorite of many attendees!

Our expert panel of moderators included Owen Thomas, M.D., Radiation Oncology, Delmarva Radiation Services, Tunnell Cancer Center; Sara Gavenonis, M.D., Diagnostic Radiologist, Christiana Care Health System; Clara Higgins, D.O., FACOS, Trauma Medical Director, Beebe Healthcare; and Wendy Newell, M.D. FACS, General Surgeon, Wolf Creek Surgeons.

DBCC would like to thank the planning committee, chaired by board members Nanci Mayer-Mihalski and Wilma Yu, along with board members Tynetta Brown, Sue Bowlby, Patti Key, Beth Selsor, Linda Powell, Mary McLaughlin, Rena Howard, Donna Stinson, Ciro Poppiti, Amy Norgate, Dr. Clara Higgins, Dr. Wendy Newell  and all the sponsors, staff, volunteers, vendors, and all those who attended!

See you next year for the 20th Annual Breast Cancer Update – Wednesday, April 26, 2017!



In honor of Black History Month: Meet Natasha Simms

African American women are more likely to die of breast cancer than any other race and the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition does not like this statistic!!! This February in honor of Black History Month, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition is running a special “Planting the S.E.E.D. to Health and History” campaign. Visit our website to download a free Family Health History Tree and learn about your family health history and risk factors that may affect you. As a special part of the campaign, we’d like to introduce you to some local African American Breast Cancer survivors throughout the month to share their stories. Without further ado, meet Natasha Simms. She is a breast cancer survivor and friend of DBCC filled with an inspirational message of hope, courage, wisdom, and survivorship in the excerpt below.


Natasha Simms was 31 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Natasha began screening for breast cancer at a young age, because her twin sister Lynette (featured last week on the blog) was diagnosed just a short while before her. She had a clean mammogram in August 2012 and in September, Natasha felt a lump. Her sister, Lynette, urged her to visit the doctor.

Natasha’s doctor did a biopsy and it came back as breast cancer. She also found out she was BRCA1 positive. She had 3 small tumors and the doctor recommended a mastectomy as the first step. The surgery was scheduled for December. Within that time the tumor had grown 10 times its size and spread to her lymph nodes. So the date of her surgery, Natasha was told she needed emergency chemotherapy. After the second chemotherapy treatment her tumor shrunk back down to its original size and after three more treatments she did the surgery. It was a grueling 8 hours – a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction and 17 lymph nodes removed. Recovery was tough. Besides her eyebrows, she lost all her hair and her palms and fingers were black. She had four more rounds of chemotherapy and had some blood transfusions in between. 28 rounds of radiation later, Natasha was declared cancer free.

Because she was young, Natasha was told her cancer was more aggressive. That is why her tumors grew so quickly. But she was also told the treatment worked very well because she was her body was strong to fight back.

Natasha says watching her sister go through cancer made her stronger on her journey. She wasn’t scared of dying because she saw her sister survive and thrive. She says her biggest concerns were shallow thoughts like, “I’m young, I don’t have any breasts, I don’t have any hair, I don’t have a husband”, and wondering why it happened to her. But after her cancer, Natasha says the beauty inside her came out. She didn’t fall back on her physical looks. She appreciated the parts of her body that were functioning and supporting her, like her legs for helping her walk, and her eyes for helping her see.


On the day of her diagnosis, Natasha recalls a rainbow in the sky. Her sister Lynette told her that was God’s promise that she wasn’t going to die from the cancer. Natasha gained strength and encouragement like this from her sister throughout her journey. She also found comfort in being able to call someone like Lois at the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition and talk about what she was going through and all the challenges in her life.

Natasha (and Lynette) are the only ones from a family of 12 to have breast cancer. But Natasha says she had a grandmother that died of ovarian cancer and an uncle who died of prostate cancer. So she has urged her cousins to get their genetic testing. Natasha has 4 children and once they are 18 they will go through genetic testing. Her family and her children are at a higher risk of developing breast cancer due to their family history.

There are still after effects of the cancer that Natasha faces all the time but overall, she feels fortunate that her health is fine. After speaking to her doctor she had a complete hysterectomy to reduce her risk of developing ovarian cancer. And because the genetic make up of her cancer she cannot take any estrogen hormone replacements. So she is reading, learning techniques and managing the best she can. She has started to meditate, write books, and hosts a radio and online web show to talk about issues.

For someone who might be newly diagnosed and reading Natasha’s story, she has some words of wisdom, “Life is not over when you are diagnosed with breast cancer. This is just a test to show how strong you really are. Pull your strength from this. Be positive. Keep a smile.”

For any African American women reading this during black history month, Natasha has a special message. In general, we don’t like to go to the doctors. Doctors always have bad news. But you need to be familiar with how your body feels and if anything doesn’t feel right – go to the doctor. And most importantly, listen to the doctor. It might just save your life.”



In honor of Black History Month: Meet Lynette Shannon


African American women are more likely to die of breast cancer than any other race and the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition does not like this statistic!!! This February in honor of Black History Month, the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition is running a special “Planting the S.E.E.D. to Health and History” campaign. Visit our website to download a free Family Health History Tree and learn about your family health history and risk factors that may affect you. As a special part of the campaign, we’d like to introduce you to some local African American Breast Cancer survivors throughout the month to share their stories. Without further ado, meet Lynette Shannon. She is a breast cancer survivor and friend of DBCC filled with an inspirational message of hope, courage, wisdom, and survivorship in the Q&A below.

Question: Tell me a little bit about your breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. What was the most difficult for you?

Answer: Well at the age 27 my son had just turned 2 and I had just celebrated my 2 yr wedding anniversary. I could remember one day feeling a lump in my under arm and then feeling pain in my right breast. I visited my family doctor who then told me he would have to send me for a mammogram the same day. I was then scheduled for a specialist the same day. Next came the biopsy. I remember sitting in the doctors office with my husband being told I had breast cancer. It was a huge shock. I had a tumor about 4 cm in dimension. I also had 16 affected lymph nodes in my under arm.  

The most difficult part….. Everything! Not being able to care for my son, loss in appetite, restlessness, having to convince people that I was going to be okay and not die. Not to mention the fact that the very medicine that was supposed to save my life….. I was allergic to it. So before every treatment I had to take a dose of bendryl. I had 6 treatments in total. Broken in half because my tumor shrunk so fast that the doctor needed proof that I actually had a tumor. After the 6 treatments every 2 weeks I had 30 days of radiation. 

Question: How did you get through all the tough issues that come from a diagnosis?

Answer: I honestly got through the tough times with the help of God. For no other reason would I be here today with a testimony of healing.

Question: Did you turn to family for support?

Answer: My husband was my biggest supporter along with my family, church family, friends and co workers.

Question: Did the DBCC help you? Or did you have an outside support system like a church or sorority or friends or coworkers who you counted on?

Answer: The DBCC helped me out a lot. They were always ready to have someone talked to me if I had any questions or just needed someone to talk to. Everyone was always there to cheer me on and encourage me every step of the way. 

Question: Did breast cancer run in your family? I know your sister is also a survivor. Did you guys speak about your risk factors before being diagnosed – or do you do so now – especially for the future generations?

Answer: My breast cancer was genetic. I thank God for my plastic surgeon who suggested that I get genetics testing before getting reconstruction. It is at that point I found out it was genetic. At that point I only knew that my grandmother died of ovarian cancer. I was then able to get my second breast removed and help reduce the chance of it coming back.  From that I was able to tell my sister and all relatives that it was genetic. I begged my sister to get testing, unfortunately  that didn’t happen and before long she was diagnosed. 

Question: What advice would you give to a black woman who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer? Is there anything you wish you knew before that might have helped you along your journey?

Answer: The advice that I would give is don’t give up! Your story does not end with a diagnosis. Have Faith. A doctor once told me that it is really mind over matter. Don’t allow your mind and the things people may say dictate how you heal and survive. You can make it. Go get genetics testing, find out if it runs in your family, there is preventative work that can be done.  The one thing I wish I knew, was to get genetics testing before I had my surgeries.

Question: How are you today?

Answer: I feel amazing and grateful that God would heal me and continue to add years to my life. I’m also grateful for my support group that still encourages me and celebrates my life.  I have so many reminders of what I went through physically that keeps me humble and helps me to remember that I need to share my story and information with others.