Pink is everywhere- I know! And not just pink awareness ribbons! 

As a 2x survivor of breast cancer, I am one of the first to admit that there is a lot of pink around us. But when I was diagnosed with cancer, all the pink in the world could not take away my legit fears of having to leave my 2 sons: 3-year-old Derek, and 5-year-old Brian, without a mother. 

And when I was diagnosed for the 2nd time 5 years later, my life had changed, and I was a single Mom, and that fear of not being on this earth for them only grew. 

My cancer led me to want to give back somehow. I have been fortunate to be working as a Patient Navigator at this point for 19 years at the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI’s) designated comprehensive cancer center in Pittsburgh, UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. I help guide patients and families to services, support, and education within the center and in the community. 

It is at Hillman where I very quickly became aware of many more colors than pink – and with that, I became increasingly aware of the incredible lack of funds for cancer research for all cancers. We are talking about life-saving research that not only helps patients in their journey but also has very real promise to eradicate the disease. This revelation began my journey of being an advocate and speaking up not only for my boys and me but for everyone and anyone who is touched by cancer or will be.

I had volunteered with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and that is where I learned about the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). 

I was never politically inclined or interested frankly. But through ACS CAN I learned that many of the most important decisions about cancer are not made in the doctor’s office; instead, they are made by your state legislature, in Congress, and in the White House.

By joining ACS CAN, (it’s only a $10 membership fee each year) I, and others impacted by cancer, are given a voice as we encourage lawmakers at all levels of government to join the fight to make cancer a national priority. 

Why is volunteering with ACS CAN important to me? 

Because I want to improve the quality of life of those who are diagnosed, ensure that everyone has access to care, and I want to prevent others from getting the disease.

Honestly, it is a privilege to help cancer patients and their families and to have the unique opportunity to be a strong voice through ACS CAN. When one sees that change for the better can happen and that you might have made a difference in someone’s life, there is nothing more rewarding! And that just makes me want to fight even harder!

To learn more about ACS CAN and how you can have a voice in the fight against cancer, visit their website at 

Want to join me in the fight against cancer? 

Fill out this form to become a volunteer!

Editor’s Note: Here’s the issue Marina is working on right now: