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Profile: Lisa Muccilo

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Lisa before her make-over (left) Lisa wearing  make-up and Anne wig

As an undergraduate majoring in civil engineering, Lisa Muccilo was a member of a select group; the boys in her class would pass her notes saying she was the prettiest girl in class. Of course, she adds with a laugh, she was also the only girl in the class. Now Lisa is a member of another select group: women under 40 who are battling breast cancer. Only 32, Lisa has been at war with cancer since she was 27, shortly after her mother's diagnosis at the age of 47. Lisa tried attending her mother's support group, but it was hardly ideal; she was more than 20 years younger than the other women.

Although more than 10,000 women under forty are diagnosed each year with breast cancer, until recently there has been nowhere for them to turn for support. That changed in 1998 when three women under thirty-five founded the Young Survival Coalition (YSC), the only international, non-profit network of breast cancer survivors under forty and their supporters. The YSC's motto: Action, Advocacy, Awareness sums up its goal: to educate young women, the medical community, lawmakers and the general public in order to advance research, treatment and support for this under- served and under- recognized population.

A recently published book about the YSC and the issues confronting young women with breast cancer, Fighting For Our Future, is highly recommended. In addition, the YSC is partnering with the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Reach to Recovery program in New York to distribute Alone No More, an educational video and a pamphlet, to make important information about breast cancer available to young women and ACS Reach to Recovery volunteers.

As for Lisa, she refuses to let breast cancer stop her from leading a meaningful life. She continues to consult as an engineer and last year she founded the New Jersey affiliate of the YSC. The affiliate has raised $45,000 since February. "I like the word fight," she says. "This feels like a fight. And it feels like you never want to run out of ammunition."

Para solicitar información en español, llame al 1-800-ACS-2345. Un especialista en información sobre el cáncer le asistirá en español.

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