October 2020




On September 8, 2020, JALBCA went virtual for the first time with its Awards Presentation Gala. (You can view the Gala and the virtual Gala Journal at https://vimeo.com/456620042.) Richard Edlin and Maura Miller co-chaired the gala as in recent years. The evening’s many sponsors were highlighted. Vilia Hayes, the outgoing Co-President of JALBCA, introduced Jacqueline Flug, the incoming Co-President.

Gala Honorees

Judith Livingston, Hon. Jenny Rivera and Daniela Combe

At the Gala, JALBCA was proud to honor these worthy members of our New York legal community:

  • Judith Livingston – Volunteer Service Award for her many years of service to JALBCA. This award was presented by Co-President Jacqueline Flug.
  • Honorable Jenny Rivera, Associate Judge of the New York Court of Appeals – Leadership Achievement Award. This award was presented by the Honorable Rowan D. Wilson of the Court of Appeals. In a beautiful speech, Judge Rivera accepted the award on her own behalf and on behalf of her niece, who is a two-time cancer survivor.
  • The IBM Legal Department – Maite Aquino Memorial Grant Award, accepted by Daniela Combe, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel. This award was presented by gala co-chair Maura Miller.

Executive Director Claire Gutekunst also spoke about some of JALBCA’s 2020 activities. She reported on the $821,000 distributed to grantees during the year. Several of JALBCA’s grantees were featured, who eloquently described the range of legal services made available to breast cancer community members in need through JALBCA’s financial support. Former Co-President Sharon Nelles encouraged donors to contribute to JALBCA. JALBCA thanks all who participated and donated. If you haven’t donated yet, please support JALBCA and our grantees by donating at http://jalbca.info/donations/ or by sending a check to JALBCA, 100 Crosby Street, Suite 303, New York, NY 10012.

Gala co-chair Richard Edlin reminded us of Winston Churchill’s statement, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Finally, he confirmed that not even the pandemic has stopped or will stop JALBCA from accomplishing its mission.


DATE: October 7, 2020
TIME: 12:00 – 1:30 p.m., live webcast via Zoom
CLE: 1.5 CLE credits – Areas of Professional Practice (appropriate for all attorneys)
Rachel S. Baldassaro, Esq., Center for Elder Law & Justice
Jacqueline Flug, Esq., JALBCA Co-President
Topics and Speakers:
Employment Issues – Lisa A. Coppola, Esq., The Coppola Firm
Debtor/Creditor Matters – Terrie Benson Murray, Esq., Cohen & Lombardo, P.C.
Insurance Issues – Kelly Barrett Sarama, Esq., Center for Elder Law & Justice
Western New York Chapter of WBASNY
Bar Association of Erie County
To register, visit https://eriebar.org/events/cle-legal-issues-affecting-breast-cancer-patients/

This year in addition to our medical expert, JALBCA and the Bronx Women’s Bar Association
are pleased to bring you powerful accounts of survivors of both the male and female genders.
DATE: October 19, 2020
TIME: 12:55 – 2:00 p.m.
Keynote Speakers:
Dr. Louis Braun, Breast Cancer Survivor
Christine Weiss, Breast Cancer Survivor
Lisa S. Weichmann, M.D., New York Presbyterian/Columbia
Please R.S.V.P. to bxwomensbar@nullgmail.com to receive the Zoom invitation.

24th Annual Ellen P. Hermanson Memorial Symposium
A mock legislative hearing will address whether our nation’s healthcare system can – and should – do more
to empower Americans with knowledge about their genetic predisposition to cancer..
DATE: December 9, 2020
TIME: 6:00-7:30 p.m.
CLE: CLE credit pending

Legislative Panel
Hon. Barbara Jaffe, NYS Supreme Court, JALBCA Board of Directors
Hon. Keith Powers, Member, New York City Council and Committee on Health
Hon. Alan D. Scheinkman, Presiding Justice, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department
Erika Stallings, Esq., BRCA awareness advocate and attorney, Broadcast Music, Inc.

Testifying Witnesses
Patrick J. Burke, Esq., Partner, Chair of Data Technology & Cybersecurity Group, Phillips Nizer LLP
Anna R. Gurevic, Esq., Associate, Robinson + Cole LLP
Kristen C. Kim, Esq., Associate General Counsel, Chief Regulatory Counsel, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Lisa Schlager, Vice President of Community Affairs & Public Policy, FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered)
Fran Visco, President, National Breast Cancer Coalition

Sponsors: The Ellen Hermanson Foundation, The Bench and Bar of the SDNY
Supporting Organizations: SHARE, The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York
Symposium Co-Chairs: Desirée Ripo, Esq., Erika Stallings, Esq., Virginia K. Trunkes, Esq.
Registration information to follow.


Hon. Shirley Kornreich spearheaded JALBCA’s participation in Ellen’s Run, sponsored by the Ellen P. Hermanson Foundation. Voted Best Sporting Event for the last eight years by Dan’s Papers: Best of the Best, Ellen’s Run is a grassroots summer tradition and a highly visible event that raises funds and awareness about breast cancer. This year the 5K run/walk went on virtually in neighborhoods throughout the East End of the Long Island community – and beyond. The participants missed the comraderie and look forward to next year when they will be able to see each other again

For another year, star JALBCA member Sandra Lespinasse led Team JALBCA at the Komen Race for the Cure which, for the first time, was a re-imagined digital event. Komen Greater NYC celebrated 30 years with a 30-hour live-stream event followed by a 30 day, personalized Journey to 30 Experience (starting September 13, this is the celebration to remember a loved one who passed away from breast cancer). Komen planned for opening and closing ceremonies, a Celebration of Hope, and messages from team captains, survivors and friends. Please consider financial support for JALBCA’s team by visiting JALBCA’s link and making a donation: https://race.komennyc.org/team/jalbca.


The September 2020 issue of Precision Oncology reported on a study that made findings on the effect of honeybee venom and melittin, the active component of honeybee venom, on HER2-enriched and triple negative breast cancer (which lacks the expression of estrogen and progesterone receptors, as well as human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, HER2. It is aggressive and associated with the poorest outcomes). Melittin is the molecule that creates the painful sensation from a bee sting. The study concluded that the honeybee venom and melittin potentially induce cell death. The authors claim that their research unveils a molecular mechanism underpinning the anticancer selectivity of melittin. The European honeybee (Apis mellifera) has been a source of products used for medicinal use by humans for thousands of years – e.g., honey, propolis, venom. But the anti-cancer activity of bee venom was not well understood. (Duffy, C., Sorolla, A., Wang, E. et al. Honeybee venom and melittin suppress growth factor receptor activation in HER2- enriched and triple-negative breast cancer, npj Precis. Onc. 4, 24 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41698-020-00129-0)

According to the article, both honeybee venom and melittin have demonstrated antitumoral effects in melanoma, non-small-cell lung cancer, glioblastoma, leukemia, ovarian, cervical, and pancreatic cancers, with higher cytotoxic potency in cancer cells compared to non-transformed cells. Melittin nanoparticles have been used to suppress liver metastasis. Additive and synergistic anticancer effects have been reported between honeybee venom and other therapeutic modalities, including with cisplatin in cervical and laryngeal malignancies, and with docetaxel in lung cancer cells. Similar interactions have been demonstrated between melittin and plasma-treated phosphate-buffered saline in MCF7 breast cancer and melanoma cells. Honeybee venom and melittin also induced apoptosis in MCF7 cells, and decreased cell viability and migration in MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. [Note: MCF-7, T-47D and MDA-MB-231 are the names of the three breast cancer cell lines which allegedly account for more than two-thirds of all research abstracts reporting studies on mentioned breast cancer cell lines.] Honeybee venom reduced metastases of breast cancer to the lung, inhibited tumor growth, and prolonged survival in mice with spontaneous mammary carcinoma tumors. Melittin has been credited with the majority of the antineoplastic activity of honeybee venom. In contrast to honeybee venom, bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) venom does not contain melittin. Instead, it contains secretory phospholipase A2 that induces cell apoptosis by inhibition of a different pathway in human chronic myelogenous leukemia cells.

Noteworthy is that honeybee venom and melittin had negligible effects in normal cells, which result likely would need to be confirmed in other studies. The study also outlined targeted modifications of melittin for potential use in combination with chemotherapy for the treatment of other aggressive cancers driven by overexpression of growth factor receptors.

Two studies were conducted to learn the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on breast cancer screening tests, including mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs and they showed consequent delays. The research was presented on July 22, 2020, as part of the American Association of Cancer Research Virtual Meeting: COVID-19 and Cancer. The studies were:

  • Patient-Reported Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Breast Cancer Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment: A National Survey
  • Impact of COVID-19 on breast and prostate cancer screening and early detection in a large healthcare provider group

Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities delayed or cancelled elective procedures beginning in March 2020. Elective procedures were those not needed to save someone’s life. Breast cancer screening was considered an elective procedure, so many mammograms were delayed or cancelled. Also, some breast cancer surgeries and other treatments were delayed, changed, or cancelled. The primary objectives of the delays and cancellations were:

  • to save medical resources, including doctors’ and technicians’ time, personal protective equipment, medicines, and emergency room and intensive care unit beds, for people who were infected with COVID-19
  • to help reduce the risk of people becoming infected with COVID-19 by keeping them out of hospitals and other care facilities where COVID-19 patients were being treated

The first study was done by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and used an online survey to ask people about any delays or cancellations of breast cancer screening or care, as well as how worried they were about the COVID-19 pandemic making it harder to get healthcare, including breast cancer treatment. The survey was available in both English (May 14 to July 10, 2020) and Spanish (June 1 and ongoing at the time of the report). The survey was promoted through several breast cancer advocacy organizations, including the Dr. Susan Love Foundation and SHARE. 534 people completed the survey and more than a quarter of the respondents reported healthcare delays. The concern is that screening delays will lead to delays in diagnoses. Erica Warner, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, noted that “(i)n his June 19 editorial in Science, Dr. Norman Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute, said that modeling predicts an excess of 10,000 deaths from breast cancer and colorectal cancer over the next 10 years because of the pandemic. The model considered only these two types of cancer. It is a model developed by CISNET, a consortium of NCI-sponsored investigators who use simulation modeling to assess the effects of cancer prevention, screening and treatment interventions on incidence and mortality.

The second study was done by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The researchers looked at the medical records of women and men age 30 to 85 who had not been diagnosed with breast or prostate cancer. By looking at the codes in their medical records, the researchers determined how many people had either breast cancer or prostate cancer screening tests or a biopsy. Overall, 80,629 women were included in the 2019 analysis and 82,695 women were included in the 2020 analysis. There was a significant decline in both screening and biopsies between 2019 and 2020. (See https://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/covid-19-delayed-screening-in-us)