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By Kyler J. Smith


To say everyone has been affected by breast cancer in their lives is putting it mildly. To “be affected”  by a disease, of course, means that one’s life is never the same because of the catalyst, it is forever altered. But sometimes a catalyst can be for the better, sometimes good comes from the affect.   Breast cancer does not affect. It simply lays waste to life. What breast cancer does is burn down the forest of each person’s life when it comes into it. Trees, memories, a lifetime spent planting and tending to precious life is then abruptly singed and demolished with one fell swoop of matches and chemo, of weight and hair loss and smoke billowing up to the sky. Everyone isn’t “affected”  by cancer, everyone is on some level destroyed by it, whether it happens to themselves or to someone they would trade the world for.


Both of my Grandmas have been touched by its plague. One grandmother, because of it, I never got the chance to meet. My other Grandma stopped it dead in its tracks before it could even touch her, thanks to early detection and a more developed sense of public awareness of the disease. It is clear that the progress of early detection in the past few decades has helped immeasurably, but there are still many more roads to go down until no one is destroyed by the wildfire. Some of those roads will be rocky and may seem impossible to see the end of. What now comes into importance here is the passengers you bring along with you on your travels. And the Girls Night Out Altoona, Inc. group are probably some of the best ladies you could possibly want to have with you on your journey.


The group, led by chairperson Juls Bratton, consists of fourteen volunteer members who spread awareness of breast cancer through events and help to raise money.   These funds are equally divided between the Joyce Murtha Breast Care Center and the Women’s Health Institute with additional support given to the Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, with the funds being directly to the Dr. Craig Meyers Breast Cancer Research Program. This year they will also be adding a new facility, the UPMC Altoona Breast Center,  with funds given to a voucher program for underinsured or uninsured people who will be receiving treatment there.


Their first event was held ten years ago and they host an annual Basket Bingo every May. They will also be holding their 10th Annual Girls Night Out Altoona, Inc. event at the Jaffa Shrine Center on October 25th.  Last year the group raised $100,000 to be distributed to their recipients. They are also planning in the near future to raffle off a Ford Focus.


This year will be the group’s second outing partnered with Charlotte’s Trove in Roaring Spring for “Cooking For a Cure”  event on Wednesday, September 13th at 6:30 pm. The night will feature complimentary wine for all guests of age, as well as shopping in the Trove’ stylish boutique with 10% of all sales for the day of the event going to the organization. In addition, there will be a live cooking demonstration by guest Chef Janet DeGennaro, (recipes included) with our own in-house Chef DiAnna cooking up some of her fabulous tasty creations.

Tickets for the event are $25 each, and can be purchased at Charlotte’ Trove. All proceeds will benefit the amazing group that is Girls Night Out Altoona, Inc.


As stated before, the road that a person must travel down when fighting breast cancer, as well as the road that person’s loved ones must also venture, is never fun and  is covered with rocky terrain and brushfire. No one wants to face such ugliness. But the people that do are that much stronger for fighting and a beacon of inspiration, strength, and hope to the rest of us. Seeing them fight keeps us going. And what these women do is fight, so ferociously and proudly, and they never give up. They fight for awareness, for advocacy, for a world in the near future where these roads may no longer exist. These women are fighting for all of us, and they are fighting for both of my grandmas. I think that’s pretty amazing, and I think it is doing an heroic job taming the wildfires.


So please, come on September 13th! It promises to be a night filled with food, wine, fun, friends, and hope. We would love to have you join us.