In 1994, Diana Napper founded The Glimmer of Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer,. She began this foundation to honor a promise she made to her friend Carol Jo Weiss Friedman before she lost her battle with breast cancer. Initially, Diana had designed a small piece of jewelry, a Swarovksi teardrop pin capped with a pearl to symbolize hope over tears, and had intended to sell those pins to raise money to fund a hospice in Carol Jo’s name. However, as Diana met more and more women, especially younger women being diagnosed with breast cancer, Diana realized that she needed to focus on finding a cure for breast cancer. Popular Pittsburgh has been so impressed with Diana’s work toward that goal and what The Glimmer of Hope has accomplished, we sat down for a Q&A session with her.
Q. Are you at all surprised at how the Glimmer of Hope has grown?
A. I think I always knew in my heart that what Carol’s dream for Glimmer was, would come to realization. I feel her presence, especially if we have a big decision to make.
Q. What do you see as the biggest obstacle to women under 40 being properly screened and diagnosed with breast cancer?
A. There is not a government protocol for women under 40 to receive screenings, since the current screening methods are not sensitive enough for young women. Current insurance guidelines do not want to start this testing strictly for the cost and false positives; they feel it Is a financial drain on the system.
Q. As the Glimmer of Hope grows, in which direction are you steering it?
A. Glimmer of Hope Foundation, “the symbol of the cure”, is widely recognized in the Pittsburgh area. For the past twenty years, the foundation has been dedicated to raising funds to further breast cancer research in pre-menopausal women. Since the incidence of breast cancer in women under forty is increasing, the foundation is positioning itself to expand its effort to a national level in order to focus more attention on this alarming development. It is our mission to support a baseline screening method through MRI that will screen all women at the age of 30.
Q. More and more events are being held that benefit the Glimmer of Hope. Do you have any others on the horizon or have a wish for a certain event that hasn’t come about yet?
A. We have been very successful in attracting events to Glimmer. Most people join our team because of the transparencies of the programs we have created and supported. Because the jewelry is doing so well, we would love to have a major retailer take some of our designs nationally. They could replicate the programs that we have created in Pittsburgh for young women and keep the money locally in their own markets.
Q. Do you find it easy to get people to join you in your fight against breast cancer?
A. I have to say yes; again our programs and equipment purchases have been so effective in Western Pennsylvania, companies are now reaching out to us. There is a great sense of accomplishment when they see their donated funds having immediate impact on these young women.
Q. What do you feel is the greatest accomplishment the Glimmer of Hope has achieved?
A. I would say the “Home for Hope” Integrated Oncology programs. Once again we are setting protocol for these young women, improving their treatment and hopefully their outcome.
Q. The Glimmer of Hope provides a lot of information for women and also raises funds that have made possible, among other things, the donation of the nation’s first tomosynthesis machine at AHN. Are there any other breakthrough technologies or treatments that you know of that are on the horizon?
A. We believe that circulating DNA holds great promise for diagnosing breast cancer. We are currently researching this type of test, and we are in discussions to start a study.
Q. If you could speak to your friend Carol Jo today, what do you think she’d say about your efforts to keep your promise to her about helping women with breast cancer?
A. I would like to think she knows. I have always felt her presence in every major project we have supported. It seems like all the right people are always in our path when we need them.
Q. How close do you think we are for a cure for breast cancer?
A. It is my daily prayer that the cure is on the horizon. Until it is, we will continue to provide “Hope” every day to women and their families that have been diagnosed with this disease.
Q. How can people get involved and help the Glimmer of Hope,?
A. You can call 800-454-6746 or go to our website and sign up at www.symbolofthecure.com. We can always use the help.