In Honor

Who is your Model of Inspiration?

The highlight of the annual Breast Cancer Alliance luncheon has long been our Models of Inspiration show. Honoring the women and men who have undergone treatment and/or are living with metastatic breast cancer is a joyous and heartwarming moment.

To view the 2020 Models of Inspiration video, click here

If you would like to recognize a Model of Inspiration, please send us an email


I received a routine mammogram at age 51 in early 2014, but this test discovered an unusual lump in my right breast, and the doctor recommended a follow-up sonogram. Things were initially vague but spiraled quickly: the sonogram images weren’t clear, a biopsy showed abnormal cells, and more invasive tests and extractions were needed to assess the cells. Two weeks later, a month after the initial discovery, and after a wonderful college tour with my middle son, the phone rang while I was at a family dinner. It was the doctor: I had DCIS. He told me that my margins weren’t clear, testing would be needed, and I would likely need a mastectomy. The bluntness was shocking and my husband immediately called a friend who was married to a doctor at Memorial Sloan Kettering – luckily, their response was quick, thoughtful, and caring. I flew to New York City and, after additional biopsies, the doctors told me I wouldn’t need a mastectomy after all. My family, friends, doctors, and other survivors I knew supported me through a lumpectomy and 5 weeks of radiation. I embraced running as a passion and outlet, and six years later am cancer-free – now touring those same colleges with my youngest son, and even stronger. ~ Meg Russell tribute to Melissa Rubel


My mother, Audie Bayer, was 70 when she was diagnosed with DCIS. She describes herself as very lucky. Treated in Asheville, N.C., she had a lumpectomy, followed by 6 weeks of radiation, and then tamoxifen for several years. She then became involved in building Asheville's new Cancer Center, where all cancer services for the region are under one roof. Because she did no have to undergo chemotherapy, she trained and then volunteered in the chemotherapy department of her new center, with her little white dog, Charlie. He sat on chemo patients' laps during their chemo treatment and took away some of their stress. Mom is kind to everyone she meets and in her interactions in the chemo department, she made lasting relationships and helped so many people who needed support and guidance. Now 83 years old, my mom is my "inspiration for hope" in the true sense of that phrase. So so very proud of her. ~ Jill Ciporin

Lindsay Frederick, fitness enthusiast, stunt double and mother of three was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 40. She attacked the disease with the same bravery, fighter mentality and resilience she's embodied since we met and after 16 rounds of chemo and a double mastectomy, Lindsays body is now cancer free. Lindsay "put on her boxing gloves" to fight her battle and while telling friends and family, "Don’t you worry about me, I’ve got 3 babies and an incredible husband to fight for. I've got this, now go get YOURSELF checked.” Lindsay is and will always be my model of inspiration. ~ Lauren Schweibold

Karen Dillon was diagnosed in November 2019 with invasive lobular Stage 2B breast cancer and also tested positive for BRCA2.  She was 53 years old.
Her mother is a survivor of Stage 4 ovarian cancer which was diagnosed in 1996. Karen had a lumpectomy in December of 2019 and a double mastectomy in January 2020.   This past June she had breast reconstruction and the removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes

Karen has raised 3 boys, Conor, Liam and Jack with husband Donald in Ridgewood NJ.  She currently lives in Jersey City and Weekapaug, RI and is a yoga and meditation teacher. "Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” ~Ephesians 4:1. ~ Molly Zola

Rhoda (Dodo) Roberts breast cancer was found during a routine mammogram followed by a biopsy, when she was 69 years old.   The final diagnosis was that the cells were lobular (LCIS) acting like ductal cancerous cells. She was very fortunate to have a breast cancer navigator, surgeon, oncologist, radiologist and radiology team who made sure that she understood all of her options, prepared her well for her treatments and literally carried her through the whole process. She had a lumpectomy (2 surgeries) followed by radiation.  I’m now in my 5th year of an aromatase inhibitor and am waiting to see if the doctors prescribe another 5 years.

Dodo says, "Overall I had a relatively “easy” time of it.  I remember a wonderful nurse who came in during the biopsy and held my hand through the worst. She had been through a breast biopsy herself and was an angel. Post-surgery I worked out with a breast cancer group at the Wilton Y. The only time that I took off from work was for the surgeries themselves, so the Y gave me a good excuse to take some time to focus on getting better.   The aromatase inhibitor is a good excuse for memory lapses, but I can do without the hot flashes in the night.

I call what I have “the old-lady breast cancer crap” that so many of my friends have gone through. We are the fortunate ones who have had it hit after 65. The friends who had it first helped me, and I have the opportunity to help the new ones. A wonderful family, medical team, friends and community – oh, and medical insurance that I never worried about. I am fortunate." ~ Lindsay Wyman

My mother-in-law, Frederica "Freddy" Meindl, was in her mid-50's when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is now about the celebrate her 82nd birthday! She has always been a source of inspiration for me as a mom, a wife, a mother-in-law, and as a friend. We are all blessed to have her in our lives. We love you Freddy! ~ Sarah Meindl

Sherri Pleva is five years post diagnosis and treatment. She always reminds others to get their mammography and to be checked! ~ Lois Alperstein

Sherri Pleva is five years post diagnosis and treatment. She always reminds others to get their mammography and to be checked! ~ by her sister, Lois Alperstein

Pam Ely is a lifelong educator and currently serves as the Director of the Children’s Day School of Wilton.

She is also a breast cancer survivor. Due to early detection from a routine mammogram, her doctors caught the cancer very early and she was lucky to have a successful lumpectomy and radiation treatment. She leaned on her faith and began a practice of visualizations while undergoing treatment. Pam was also buoyed by the support of breast cancer survivors around her. She has been cancer free for eighteen years now.  ~ Lindsay Wyman

Jennifer Dreilinger, is our Inspiration, Shining Star and Our Hero. She was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer at age 46 about 18 months ago. She found it after a self breast exam. Jennifer had become increasingly more aware of her body after undergoing open heart surgery to repair a leaky Mitral Valve just one (1) year before. We always knew she was a remarkably strong woman, but she proved it even more as she underwent a double mastectomy followed by intense chemo treatments. It was pre-Covid so she was able to have family and friends accompany her each time she had a treatment. We were there to give her moral support and build her up, but instead we found that she gave us the strength to carry on. The strength she exhibited made us stronger. We laughed and cried together and she always came thru her treatments with a a positive attitude. She is a real trooper. From the time of her diagnosis until now, she has maintained a full schedule running her household as a wife to Evan, mom of two (2) teenage boys, Ben and Ari, and their beautiful and precious dog, Dash. All the while juggling her career as a Graphic Designer, and Event and Party Planner. She never ceases to amaze us. Jennifer is truly an inspiration to all who know her ~ Marta and Murray Kowalsky

Jennifer Dreilinger is a ray of light and hope in this world. Her love for her family and friends knows no boundaries and I’ve been honored to call her my friend for 15 years. She valiantly fought breast cancer with a positive attitude and inner strength that was awe inspiring. She’s my hero and I’m proud to share her beauty, both inside and out, with the world. I love you, Jen.

Lorie Augustine was diagnosed with breast cancer in the early 1980's. This strong lady kicked cancer's butt 40 years ago! Her love for her faith and her family helped her get through it. She is a healthy and vibrant mother to three, grandmother to five kids and 7 dogs, and friend to all. She is adored by everyone. Some fun facts about Lorie are that she knows all of the words to Rappers Delight, she is a HUGE basketball fan and she's a bowling phenom! She is about to celebrate her 86th birthday! Happy birthday Lorie, lots of love from your adoring family.

Here’s to my beautiful, kind, wonderful, brave sister, Nancy Smith! You have a heart of gold! We all love you so much! ~ Susan Thorkelson

Gabby & Don McCree also honor Nancy Smith

Karen Mincio: Having celebrated my 60th birthday the previous summer, in February 2006 I went for my annual mammogram which I consciously scheduled yearly since I turned 50. Cancer, but not breast, was part of my family history and I smugly believed nursing four children afforded me extra protection even though I had been prescribed Prempro and other similar drugs for early menopause and had dense breasts. 

That mammography revealed a “suspicious area” and an astute radiologist suggested a needle biopsy - the beginning of a journey I call “my lost year” lasting until 12/13/06, which was the date of my last radiation treatment. Through insertion of a port, eight chemo treatments, six weeks of radiation, I was blessed with the guidance of Dr. Adam Romoff and the incredible doctors and staff at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Dr Sclafani, Dr Gelblum, and a myriad of the most carrying nurses and support staff. Fourteen years later with the love and support of family and friends and a strong faith, I celebrate with my “pink sisters” who are survivors as well - Lisa Collins, Mary Greene, Noreen Burns to name just a few. I hurt for so many who lost courageous battles like Angela Olmsted Crocker. I thank the Breast Cancer Alliance for your dedication and am honored to be nominated as a Model of Inspiration ~ Karen Mincio

Tiffany A. Traina is an oncologist in New York, New York and is affiliated with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. She is an amazing center of knowledge of the latest protocols for those of us with Triple Negative Breast Cancer.  My hero! ~ Julie Tulipane

I would like to honor Corinne Menn who is not only a survivor herself, but her fierce dedication, unconditional devotion and services to support breast cancer patients is not only generous but inspirational.” ~Tomo Smith

As a cancer survivor, physician, advocate and dear friend, Dr. Menn offers warmth, support and guidance to patients and friends alike. Lisa McDonald

Sandra is my sister, my friend, my hero. Warrior, mother, daughter, wife-she can do hard things. Claire Carley

In November 2019, my sister, Karen Dillon received a phone call that she had invasive lobular breast cancer. She was 53, and in the past 25 years has lived an amazing lifestyle, healthy eating, excellent physical shape, an accomplished yoga instructor leading many of us through physical and spiritual cleanses. Over the next few months, Karens days were filled with numerous doctor appointments, multiple surgeries and her recovery which overlapped with the beginning of Covid.  During this time, she continued to give back, setting up zoom  meditations and yoga to help those in isolation and needing connection. She continues to be available to listen to anyone needing support emotionally or spiritually. She is a true inspiration as a wife mother daughter sister teacher and especially a friend!  We love you Karen! MaryJane Donohue

In honor of our friend, Jennifer Dreilinger. Her strength and passion for this very important cause is inspiring. With love, Deborah Goldman & family 

Judith Pinals in honor of Michelle Abadir

Sandra Caruso in honor of Graziella Costa

Judy Higgins in honor of Barbara Epifanio

Jane Julius in honor of Amy Frolick

Courtney Combe in honor of Reshma Gopaldas

Stacey Fromowitz in honor of Robyn Jones

Trish Shannon in honor of Patty "Steele" Kushner

Amy Rosenthal in honor of Julie Ruby


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Greenwich, CT 06830

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