Prevention gets personal for Mandy Stahre
On April 29 Mandy Stahre boarded a plane for Washington, D.C. As an advocate for the National Breast Cancer Coalition, she was traveling to meet with members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation.
It was a big day by any account, but the departure date on Stahre’s boarding pass carried extra significance. It marked exactly one year since she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. On that day a year ago, Stahre became one of several women in her immediate family, in four consecutive generations, to receive a breast cancer diagnosis.
After undergoing surgery, she had to decide whether to begin chemotherapy. The treatment guidelines for her type of cancer weren’t clear-cut and the chemo could mean more complications than benefits. The epidemiology student called on all of her research skills to investigate.
“I spent weeks scouring the literature,” she says. “Even with my training, it wasn’t easy to find good information pertaining to women my age with breast cancer.”
She ultimately chose not to pursue chemo but also came to another realization: “That’s when I knew I wanted to become involved in efforts to improve cancer detection, treat ment, and prevention.”
That decision culminated in Stahre’s service to help determine how $150 million in Congressional appropriations will be spent on researching the disease in the coming years. Stahre’s role as a consumer reviewer is to call on her own experience with cancer to determine which research proposals will have the greatest impact on patients and survivors.
Stahre is working toward another significant date: Jan. 1, 2020. That’s the deadline the coalition has set to end breast cancer.
All the while, Stahre has been writing her dissertation, which investigates the links between tobacco use and binge drinking. She has kept ties with her former employer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doing contract work for the agency. And she continues to serve on the U’s Council of Graduate Students, a group she led as president from 2009 to 2010.
Last year, Stahre’s contributions were recognized with the President’s Student Leadership and Service Award, given to about one-half of one percent of the U’s student body.
While Stahre doesn’t see herself researching breast cancer in her own career, she does intend to continue service roles with the Young Survival Coalition—the group she represented while in Washington, D.C.—and the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
In partnering with the network of advocates (which counts Bill Clinton among its supporters) Stahre is working toward another significant date: Jan. 1, 2020. That’s the deadline the coalition has set to end breast cancer