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I am currently a PhD candidate in Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Literature and Criticism program. Previously, I earned my MA in Composition and Literature from IUP (2019) and my BA in English studies from Clarion University (2017).
I served on the Board of Directors of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society from 2016-2017 as the Eastern Region Student Representative and from 2018-2020 as the Student Advisor. Partnering with Sigma Tau Delta provided me with valuable experience working on a Board of Directors, which I feel confident will help me to contribute successfully to 412Thrive.
Throughout my school career I have served in various groups and officer positions, including as Vice President of IUP’s English Graduate Organization (2018-2019), as Vice President of Clarion’s English Club (2015-2017), as co-senior editor of Clarion’s Literary and Arts Journal, Tobeco (2015-2017), and as President of Clarion’s Reading for the Cure (2015-2017). Working with Reading for the Cure, in particular, prepared me to hold a position on the Board of 412Thrive.
I was involved with Reading for the Cure from 2013-2017, holding various officer positions throughout the years. I was motivated to join when my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer just before I started college. Working with Reading for the Cure allowed me to make a material impact on the lives of breast cancer patients and survivors while also building a sense of community for them, their families, and their friends and supporters. I eventually took over as President of Reading for the Cure and used the fundraiser as the basis for my Senior Honors Project. I look forward to the chance to use my knowledge and skills to help and support the 412Thrive community.
My name is Christine Adamek, and I am a cofounder of 412Thrive. In 2009, on my birthday, I received the news that no one ever wants to hear: “You have cancer.” I was the picture-perfect image of health: working out daily, practicing yoga and meditation, and even adopting a whole foods, vegetarian diet/lifestyle. I found a lump while showering and called my doctor, who scheduled a mammogram and biopsy, which later confirmed my diagnosis of a rare non-hormonal form of breast cancer called Triple Negative.
After a whirlwind of tests, it was decided that adjacent chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation with a slew of clinical trial drugs were needed. I was also told the heartbreaking news that if I survived cancer I would have to wait several years to start a family and that my fertility could be compromised. At twenty-seven years old, I was afraid and felt alone.
For many years after treatment, I battled with anxiety and depression, all while struggling with fertility. Six years after treatment, my husband and I were blessed with two beautiful, free-spirited twins. I thought the hardest part of my cancer journey was behind me, and I was ready to enjoy life with my new family. But three days after the birth of my children, I was diagnosed with postpartum cardiomyopathy, a rare, pregnancy-induced form of heart failure, and was told I may or may not recover from it due to my history of chemotherapy. Further testing also revealed that I had nodules on my lungs that needed to be monitored for the next two years to make sure my cancer had not metastasized. I was left yet again with feelings of fear and loneliness.
Persistence and patience are just a few traits that I have learned to use to navigate my cancer journey. I am beyond grateful to have recovered from postpartum cardiomyopathy and have no evidence of disease.
I was ecstatic when I met Samantha Moatz. We shared the same feelings of fear and isolation during our cancer journey and decided to found 412Thrive together. We wanted to form an inclusive group to help breast cancer patients of all ages not only survive cancer but live life to the fullest and thrive, throughout their cancer journey and beyond.
My name is Samantha Moatz, and I am a cofounder of 412Thrive, an advocate for ALL breast cancer fighters, and a super mom to two of the most special kids to ever exist. In October of 2010, at the age of 23, I found a lump in my right breast and within a month was diagnosed with stage 1b 100% estrogen positive breast cancer. I had no family history and no genetic mutations, so I am living proof that cancer can happen to anyone at any time and at any age. A true warrior, I underwent a lumpectomy, did thirty-six rounds of radiation, and started a ten-year run of a drug called tamoxifen. My body did not respond well to tamoxifen, so after a year and a half I decided to stop taking it and underwent a double mastectomy. But this was not the end of the fight, not by a long shot. I have had to fight multiple infections and will most likely continue to do so.
I celebrated ten years cancer free on October 28, 2020. I commemorated this anniversary with other cancer survivors, including my 90-year-old grandmother, which just goes to show that you can beat cancer at any age. I also celebrated with my husband Marc and our two beautiful babies. I realize how lucky I am to have the kind of love and support that my family provides.
I know that being cancer free doesn’t mean that the battle is over; there is a price to pay physically, emotionally, and financially. This knowledge was the catalyst for cofounding 412Thrive with fellow breast cancer survivor, Christine. Our nonprofit provides support for individuals affected by breast cancer and genetic mutations. I know the importance of connecting with other Thrivers because that was exactly what I had been missing until I met Christine in 2019. We were shocked to discover that we were diagnosed less than a year apart and were both from Pittsburgh, yet had never met. We knew that other Thrivers needed to feel the same support that we were able to provide for one another. We often joke that 412Thrive is like a dating service because we provide a space for Thrivers to meet their “significant other” in the breast cancer world. I hope to continue to connect Thrivers by hosting events, setting up meal deliveries, sending personalized care packages, or even dressing up as a giraffe to make a cancer fighter laugh.
My name is Bev Cwalina. I am a wife and mother of two 20-something sons. I was first diagnosed with very early-stage breast cancer in May 2015. After I had a lumpectomy and 33 radiation treatments, I thought that was the end because no type of cancer runs in my family. I chose to seclude myself and live my life as if cancer had never existed for me.
Three years after my initial cancer, I was diagnosed with stage IIIb triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) in May 2018. TNBC is a rare, fast growing form of cancer. Although a TNBC diagnosis is scary, I knew that God had a plan for my life and I needed to seek out other cancer survivors to support me and whom I could, in turn, encourage with my story.
My TNBC tumor was in the scar tissue of my initial breast cancer, so by the time it was discovered in May 2018, it was very large (8cm x 8cm). I went through aggressive chemotherapy and had a single mastectomy followed by reconstruction. In 2019, while taking Xeloda, a chemotherapy pill commonly given to TNBC patients to hopefully prevent recurrence, I developed an infection and lost my implant. Previously radiated skin often has trouble healing, and my incision did not heal for seven months. I had my first colonoscopy in February 2019 and they discovered a large lipoma (non-cancerous tumor) in my transverse colon. This caused an intussuscepted bowel which required emergency surgery in December 2019. In Fall 2019, a large nodule in my thyroid was discovered and I was told it was probably caused by no thyroid shield being used during radiation in 2015. In May 2020, the growing nodule and half of my thyroid were removed.
Throughout all the heartbreaking health struggles that go along with a cancer diagnosis, I have met amazing women and men because I opened myself up to the love and support of others. I met fellow board member, Cara Snyder, at a support group and she encouraged me to sign up for Camp Breastie. Cara invited me to a get-together at Sam Moatz’s house to connect with other women going to camp. I didn’t realize that this was the inaugural event of 412Thrive!
In John 16:33, Jesus says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Cancer has given me many troubles, but I have peace in my life no matter what happens due to my faith in Jesus Christ. I have been blessed to connect with fellow cancer survivors to share peace, joy, and support. I consider being on the Board of 412Thrive an honor and look forward to using my professional skills as a former non-profit Executive Director to help 412Thrive succeed at their mission to support those affected by breast cancer and genetic mutations.
Hello! My name is Cara Nash Snyder. I reside in the South Hills of Pittsburgh with my husband Jeremy and our two sons, Hansi, 5 and Jesse, 2. We also have our "ol lady lab" Mocha, who is 12.5. Our lives are beautifully messy but full of love.
I joined the board of 412Thrive because I really believed in their mission and their desire to help others thrive during what may be the most difficult time of their lives. 412Thrive goes above and beyond to personalize and cater to the needs of their members. The amount of thought and effort that goes into what each individual needs at the current moment is invaluable. Average or standard does not apply. Christine and Sam both live super busy lives, each with young children, yet know exactly what time you are going into chemo on Tuesday and what your favorite scents are. They really get to know each of their members on such a personal level. The community and friendships that have evolved since 412Thrive was born is incredible! The connections are real and deep.
I met Sam at a support group for another local organization (YWBCAF) and we instantly became friends. Soon after, she invited me to a super fun, social event at her home. That evening, I got to meet Christine, a fellow TNBC Survivor of 10 years. I was diagnosed with early stage TNBC in July of 2018 and then diagnosed with brain metastasis in July of 2019. Christine and Sam have been so supportive of my journey and are always there for me during both my high and low points.
When I heard that they were starting a non-profit, I was more than excited for them! I knew they would be successful and put their hearts and souls into it. I immediately wanted to find ways to help them. I believed in them and knew their efforts, drive and passion would turn into something so much bigger. I am so very proud of them!
I provided them with their very first monetary donation and supplies for making care packages. Chatting with Sam one night, I helped name the organization and also was able to connect them with a graphic designer to get their logo designed pro bono. For me, it felt so good to be part of something that helps other young Thrivers get through their journeys while feeling supported along the way. I have been so extremely lucky with the amount of support I have been shown since my diagnosis and I really wanted to pay that forward
Once they were official, the universe aligned. I was hanging out with Sam and another Thriver and I asked, “How do I get on the Board” and Sam’s response was “OMG, Christine and I were going to ask you tomorrow if you would like to join our Board?!” I am honestly so honored to part of this organization for Metastatic Outreach.
I plan to help others thrive while living with Stage 4 cancer, so they can continue to live and love each of their days. To help them find resources and connect them with people that understand what they are going through. 412Thrive also supports the families of those with metastatic cancer. We aren’t just a group for those in early stage treatment. We are here to support previvors, survivors, thrivers, caregivers and those grieving the loss of loved ones.
I taught college English (writing/film/gender/British literature) for thirty-two years. I was a faculty sponsor for many student organizations, including Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society. I also served on the Sigma Tau Delta Board of Directors for eight years. I planned several local and international conferences and conventions, in various cities, each hosting 700-1000 English majors from around the world. On my own campus, I helped organize and run a breast cancer fundraiser we called “Reading for the Cure.”
“Reading for the Cure” was a yearly event that raised money for Pittsburgh Komen’s Race for the Cure. The event’s success depended on the dedicated work of many students and alumni over the course of twenty years. The event was conceived as a response to my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis and the diagnosis that many of my students’ mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and friends had received. We decided to become advocates for women’s health simply by organizing an informal evening of poetry readings and musical performances. The money we raised provided free mammograms for underserved individuals in Western Pennsylvania. Over a period of twenty years, I forged great relationships with my students and alumni while also assisting programs for early detection of breast cancer. In the process, many of my students and I found inspiration to become social activists for breast cancer education.
Since I retired from the teaching profession, I realized how much I missed working with others in order to benefit a good cause. 412Thrive is a perfect organization because of the personal work the founding members have done to improve the lives of breast cancer Thrivers. I am looking forward to helping plan events that, much like our previous “Reading for the Cure,” will bring people together to celebrate and honor breast cancer Thrivers and their families.
Although I am not myself a cancer survivor, several family members have battled and are still battling the disease. I am a local Realtor with Coldwell Banker, and have owned a web development company for the past 22 years. I have been a PTO President, Treasurer, and a board member for my local Community Day. I recently joined 412Thrive, happy to utilize my skills to help get the website launched and get the word out about this fantastic organization that offers much needed support to breast cancer patients and their families.
Hi! My Name is Christina Casciato and I joined the board of 412Thrive because my dad battled cancer and underwent chemotherapy when I was a teenager, and I want nothing more than to help those in treatment ensure their day-to-day needs are being met. There are many cancer charities that focus on providing the necessary funding for research but not many that focus on the brave cancer patients and their well-being. Talking with Samantha, I was amazed to learn about the support 412Thrive provides with anything a Thriver needs! From group events and support networks to care packages, meal chains, cleaning services, and transportation support, they are there every step of the way. I am continually inspired by the drive and effort put in by Sam and Christine and how they turned their pain into passion. I am truly honored to be a part of something so great. Cancer is tough, but we are tougher! When not participating in Thrive activities, I can be found hangin’ with my dog or traveling the world (when it’s safe!).
Before joining 412Thrive, I volunteered with Reading for the Cure, an organization at my alma mater that raised money for Pittsburgh Komen’s Race for the Cure. I was part of this amazing team from 2013 to 2016, serving as Secretary for the group from 2013 to 2016 and as Vice President from 2015 to 2016. During that time, I assisted in organizing and hosting our annual Reading for the Cure event and silent auction, marketing the fundraiser, garnering donations, networking with local businesses and campus groups, and recruiting new volunteers. Each year, the proceeds from the Reading were used to provide free mammograms for underinsured women in the Western Pennsylvania area. I joined Reading for the Cure and now 412Thrive in honor of several loved ones who were battling breast cancer and other cancers, and they continue to inspire me to help breast cancer Thrivers in any way I can.
In addition to working for Reading for the Cure, I served as Secretary for the Rho Iota chapter of Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society from 2014 to 2016. I have a bachelor’s degree in English from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and I currently work as a copy editor for an academic publisher. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to work on behalf of Thrivers and their families again.