Breast Cancer | St. Louis Public Radio

Breast Cancer

Sheila McGlown has become an advocate for inclusion of women of color in clinical trials.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

In 2009, when Sheila McGlown began battling metastatic breast cancer at the age of 43, she was already a skilled fighter. She’d spent 25 years in the U.S. Air Force, a background she says gave her strength as well as a sense of defiance that would serve her well amid new challenges.

Ten years later, McGlown is still undergoing cancer treatment — and still focused on the service to others that she cherished during her military career. The Swansea, Illinois, resident has found a new passion for advocacy around the inclusion of women of color in clinical trials. Meanwhile, she’s also 16 months into a clinical trial participation herself.

On Monday, in light of Veterans Day, McGlown joined St. Louis on the Air host Sarah Fenske to discuss her journey.

Rachel Webb (at left) and Jossalyn Larson shared their stories on Thursday's talk show.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-area residents Rachel Webb and Jossalyn Larson come from different walks of life, but they have at least one path in common: They’ve both in recent years developed breast cancer – and have chosen to open up online about their experiences living with it.

While they now have intensive treatments and surgeries behind them, their respective journeys are far from over.

On Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air, the two women joined guest host Ruth Ezell to discuss some of the surprises and challenges they’ve been encountering lately.

Since being diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2018, Jossalyn Larson (at right) has been open about her treatment journey. He husband, John Larson (at left), is operations manager for St. Louis Public Radio.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

The year 2018 didn’t go down quite like Jossalyn Larson or her family expected. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in May, Larson underwent several months of chemotherapy. And yet through all the change, some things have stayed the same – and she’s found the various aspects of everyday life helpful as she travels a difficult path.

“Just because you have a diagnosis like this, life doesn’t stop,” Larson said on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “So our kids still need us. My job still needs me. Our parents still need us. So life continues on, and the diagnosis is just something that we get to maneuver around now.”

Dr. Theresa Schwartz, at left, is a breast surgeon with SLUCare and SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. Jossalyn Larson, center, is a current breast cancer patient, and Heather Salazar is a cancer survivor and president of Pink Ribbon Girls.
St. Louis Public Radio & Pink Ribbon Girls

After being diagnosed with breast cancer a few months ago, Jossalyn Larson began traveling a path that one in eight U.S. women will find themselves on at some point during their lifetimes. Larson’s own journey currently has her at about the midpoint of her chemotherapy, and she’s been open about its associated challenges and surprises.

“It’s been pretty disruptive,” the Missouri S&T faculty member told host Don Marsh on Thursday’s St. Louis on the Air. “What’s confusing about it is [that] I never know how it’s going to be disruptive. Every chemo infusion provides different side effects, and some of them are cumulative.

“I’m just now starting to get neuropathy in my fingers and my feet. So my fingernails hurt. And so something as simple as taking laundry out of the washer to put it in the dryer is painful for me, and I never would have anticipated that.”

“So today is day one,” Jossalyn Larson says in the first entry of a vlog she started this summer, “the first day after learning the results of my biopsy and confirming that I do have breast cancer.”
John Larson | St. Louis Public Radio

A diagnosis of cancer is a life-altering experience.

Jossalyn Larson, an English professor at Missouri S&T and resident of Owensville, Missouri, was diagnosed with breast cancer two months ago and is creating frequent updates on her YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Angie Wang | NPR

For breast cancer patients, race and geography can mean the difference between surviving and succumbing.

Washington University researchers have identified distinct hot spots in the U.S. where women are more likely to die from breast cancer. For African-American women and Latinas, these hot spots are predominantly clustered in specific regions across the southern U.S.

Ella Jones, left, and Diane Stevenson hug goodbye after a meeting. Their group, which is run by The Breakfast Club, offers support and friendship to women diagnosed with breast cancer. (June 13, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A new friend was scheduled for a mastectomy, but was now determined to get out of bed and cancel the surgery. So Ella Jones’ mothering instincts kicked in.

“I went over to the bed, and I rubbed her and talked to her, and explained in general terms what was going to happen,” said Jones, 71. “If she had gotten up out of that bed and left, she would have never done any treatment.”

Jones, a nine-year breast cancer survivor, is one of several women who coach others through their treatment in St. Louis. The program is run by The Breakfast Club, a local nonprofit that supports African-American women diagnosed with breast cancer.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., speaks a roundtable Monday at Metro High School in St. Louis. She was joined by St. Louis Public Schools Superintendent Kelvin Adams.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill is venturing out across Missouri to gather input and garner public support about making college less expensive.

The Democratic senator kicked off a statewide tour on college affordability at Metro High School in St. Louis. She spent time Monday morning talking with college administrators from local institutions -- including Washington University, the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Webster University and St. Louis Community College.

Dr. Heidi Miller, (left) and breast health navigator Cherese Agard work at Family Care Health Center in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood of St. Louis.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

In the past six years, staffers at Family Care Health Center in St. Louis have doubled the number of women coming in for regular mammograms.

It’s part of a region-wide push for “breast health navigators”: women who reach out to other women who aren’t getting mammograms and frequently don’t have health insurance. Then, they figure out how to get them in the door.

Sen. Claire McCaskill announces she has breast cancer

Feb 22, 2016
provided by the office of Sen. Claire McCaskill

“I very recently learned that I have breast cancer,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., announced in a statement on Monday.

In a note on her Tumblr page, McCaskill, 62, wrote that her prognosis is good and that she expects a full recovery. The cancer was detected during a routine mammogram, and McCaskill said she will be in St. Louis for three weeks to receive treatment.

Parth Shah

(Updated 11:40 a.m., Thurs., June 19

More than 30,000 people gathered for the 16th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Saturday morning, turning downtown St. Louis into a sea of pink balloons and tutus.

Over the past 16 years, Susan G. Komen St. Louis has raised $29 million for breast cancer research and treatment. But attendance at the annual race has been on the decline. There were 10,000 fewer participants at this year’s race compared to 2013.

Bradley Schlaggar


Most people have heard about the undesirable side effects that chemotherapy has on the body of people suffering from cancer. There's balding, fatigue and loss of appetite, to name a few.

Until recently, however, chemotherapy’s effects on the brain weren’t widely recognized. The cognitive side effects – a  fuzzy memory and poor attention span – were usually dismissed by physicians, scientists and even some cancer patients.

The symptoms have a name: Post-chemotherapy cognitive impairment, or “chemobrain,” among those who suffer from it.

Robert Joiner

The day Sha Fields was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, her fiancé came along to offer moral support, and he has been by her side since then. She says she used to wonder how to repay his years of unconditional support. The chance came last year, when the husband, Cliff, was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The Siteman Center for Advanced Medicine at Washington University had no data on how unusual it is for a husband and wife to have cancer, but Sha says she is hearing that the experience is becoming more common.

Washington University

Updated on August 29 to change 13% to 11% after further clarification from study co-author Graham Colditz.

A new study out of Washington University suggests that young women who drink regularly are at increased risk for developing breast cancer.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 14, 2013: Lori Jackson was vigilant about getting yearly mammograms. She had gotten mammograms since the age of 35 because her older sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37.

In spite of this, Jackson was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in 2009. She was 44.

When Sally O'Neill's doctor told her she had an early form of cancer in one of her breasts, she didn't agonize about what she wanted to.

The 42-year-old mother of two young girls wanted a double mastectomy.

"I decided at that moment that I wanted them both taken off," says O'Neill, who lives in a suburb of Boston. "There wasn't a real lot of thought process to it. I always thought, 'If this happens to me, this is what I'm going to do.' Because I'm not taking any chances. I want the best possible outcome. I don't want to do a wait-and-see."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 15, 2013: Sandra Garrett knew something had gone wrong inside her body a decade ago when her left hand became limp, falling from her chin and sliding down her chest. She later found a lump on her left breast and “had no idea how long it had been there.”

National Human Genome Research Institute

Cancer is cruel and it impacts the lives of far too many people and their families.  According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer kills 458,000 people each year.

Recently, actress and director Angelina Jolie, in a New York Times op-ed entitled My Medical Choice, announced she received a double mastectomy in order to minimize her risk of getting breast cancer.

Jolie has a genetic predisposition to breast cancer.  Her mom died from the disease at the age of 56.

(via Washington University in St. Louis/Shyam Kavuri, Ph. D.)

The findings of new breast cancer research from Washington University could result in effective treatment for 4,000 additional patients in the United States each year. Scientists made the discovery after analyzing DNA sequencing data from 1,500 patients.

The research appears in the latest edition of Cancer Discovery.

So what does this research mean?

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 15, 2012 - In spite of numerous public education campaigns against breast cancer, black women continue to experience higher death rates from the disease than any other racial or ethnic group, according to a federal report issued Tuesday.

The study, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said black women were 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, and that black women had higher death rates despite having fewer new cases of this form of cancer.

Dave Cornthwaite / Expedition1000

Dave Cornthwaite is a remarkable British adventurer and he just completed a 1,000 mile swim down the Missouri River, ending in St.

Dave Cornthwaite / Expedition1000

Update: Dave was interviewed by Don Marsh on St. Louis on the Air on Monday. You can listen to that conversation by clicking here.


This morning The Gateway Arch was the last stop on British swimmer Dave Cornthwaite’s 1000-mile journey down the Missouri River, completing the last few miles on the Mississippi River. 

Matthew Ellis / Washington University

Researchers at Washington University used new technology to unravel the entire genetic helix for a subset of breast cancer, called basal-like, and found that it is more like ovarian cancer than other types of breast cancer.

The study’s co-Leader, Mathew Ellis, said that means techniques used to tackle ovarian cancer could be more effective than traditional methods for basal-like breast cancer.

“The more we understand about an individual breast cancer the more we can actually treat the patient accurately,” Ellis said.  “I like to call this genome forward medicine.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 17, 2012 - A local cancer specialist is urging women to pay even closer attention to body fat in light of a new study showing that those who are overweight or obese at the time of being diagnosed with breast cancer have a higher risk of dying prematurely from the disease.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 27, 2012 - In March 2009, Sherri Frank Weintrop got a mammogram, just like she knew she was supposed to, and was told everything looked good. Only a few months later, she found a lump in her breast and her doctor soon diagnosed her with stage I breast cancer.

(via Flickr/Indofunk Satish)

Finding from Washington University could hold key to more targeted breast cancer treatments

Researchers at Washington University have uncovered a genetic mutation that explains why some women don't respond to a common form of breast cancer treatment.

Before surgery, most women with breast cancer receive aromatase inhibitors, which reduce the production of estrogen to shrink the size of tumors. But it doesn't always work.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 13, 2012 - Whenever Dr. Aislinn Vaughan or Dr. Julie Margenthaler perform lumpectomies, each predicts a roughly 20-to-30 percent chance the patient will have to undergo a second operation to remove stray or undetected cancer cells left behind.

Morning headlines: Thursday, January 5, 2012

Jan 5, 2012
(via Flickr/Eddie~~S)

$1.3 million ATM Solutions money restolen

The $6.6 million robbery of ATM Solutions in St. Louis in 2010 is believed to be the largest heist ever in St. Louis. It turns out the robbers themselves were victimized, too - at least $1.3 million was re-stolen. 

Morning headlines: Monday, November 14, 2011

Nov 14, 2011

Cancer study shows limiting alcohol reduces chances of developing breast cancer

A new study today finds that young women with a family history of breast disease can reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by avoiding alcohol. The research, published in the journal "Cancer", looked at more than nine-thousand young women starting in 1996 and tracked them through 2007.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 10, 2011 - Sandy Johnson was devastated when she learned that a lump discovered on her right breast was cancerous. Fourteen years later, however, she's using her experience to encourage other women not to think of the disease as a death sentence.