Even though the ceremony had to be canceled, Dr. Richard Bleicher is displaying his new honor with pride.
Bleicher, the leader of the breast cancer program at Fox Chase Cancer Center, was selected by Susan G. Komen Philadelphia with the Jamie Brooke Lieberman Remembrance Award. The award is named after Lieberman, who died from inflammatory breast cancer in 2012, when she was 35.
Bleicher has been at Fox Chase for 15 years, where he trains surgeons as the director of the breast fellowship program.
“When I leave this earth, hopefully I have made a significant difference in people’s lives,” he said. “I’m rarely speechless, but I was a little speechless when I was honored with the award.”
Bleicher makes sure to not only treat the disease, but reassure patients and their families emotionally. Currently, he is conducting research evaluating the effect of delayed treatments with breast cancer.
The Jamie Brooke Lieberman Remembrance Award was established by Susan G. Komen Philadelphia in memory of Lieberman, who battled inflammatory breast cancer for 20 months. Lieberman spread the word about the disease, which is more common at younger ages. At 34, Lieberman had been too young for a mammogram.
During that time she met Elaine Grobman, CEO of Komen Philadelphia. They collaborated to introduce the Big Pink Footprint at Komen’s annual Mother’s Day walk, which engages women under 40 with education and peer support.
After Jamie passed away, Grobman reached out to her family and told them she was establishing the award in their daughter’s name.
“We’re very appreciative of the work they have done and the millions of dollars they have raised, and for honoring our daughter in such a magnificent way,” said Carole Lieberman, Jamie’s mother, who lives in Cherry Hill.
That same year, the family started the Jamie Brooke Lieberman Inflammatory Breast Cancer Foundation to raise funds in their daughter’s name. Since the fund was established the Lieberman’s have raised $100,000 in profits through fundraising and by selling bracelets, which can be found at JamieBrookeBracelets.com.
With the help of Dr. Massimo Cristofanilli, they were able to fund clinical trial at Jefferson University Hospital, where Jamie was treated. The fund also selects a local physician each year to recognize for their work fighting cancer.
Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare disease that accounts for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancers and can spread rapidly in a matter of weeks or months. The disease is either stage III or IV when it is diagnosed. Symptoms include swelling and redness that affect a third or more of the breast. The skin may appear pink or bruised and may have ridges or appear pitted.
Fox Chase Cancer Center has received 19 Komen Philadelphia community grants since 2002.
“Jamie had such a zest for life as a leader and supporter, and may others have the inspiration she had to survive, fight the disease and find a cure,” Carole said. ••
To buy a bracelet, visit the website or contact Carole at CJL1200@aol.com.