by Danielle Kreider
October was the month for all things pink, celebrating breast cancer awareness. On October 17th, Millersville University held its second annual Breast-A-Ville, which is a wellness fair that focuses on breast health and breast cancer education.
The Breast-A-Ville is a part of the Breast Health Initiative that was started by retired Millersville University professor, Dr. Dennis Denenberg in honor and remembrance of his sister, Diana Denenberg Durand. Diana was first diagnosed with cancer in one of her breasts in 1989 and had a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy.
Five years later, she was declared cancer-free.
Then in 1996, a bone biopsy revealed she had cancer in her sternum, which doctors treated with chemotherapy and radiation. In 2000, doctors discovered cancer in her other breast and she had another mastectomy. Two years later, she was diagnosed with liver cancer and she was loaded down with all sorts of drugs that produced some dreadful side effects. She lost her hair and some of her nails; she suffered mouth sores, dry eyes and her hands and feet split open as well. Things looked optimistic in the fall of 2005 when she was again deemed cancer-free.
But this was only for a brief period of time.
Unfortunately, in July of 2006, a scan showed she had more than 30 brain tumors, which doctors tried to battle with aggressive drugs called Tykerb and Temodar, along with a host of other pharmaceuticals. Although she was very frail and suffered side effects, she maintained a great sense of humor and continued her and her husband's passion of collecting antique phonographs. She fought a long and hard battle, but eventually passed away after an eighteen-year battle in 2007. Dr. Denenberg said his sister once told him, "I know cancer will win someday, but I am not ready to have it win yet." She endured more than any woman should have to in a lifetime. It has been Dr. Denenberg’s hope that MU students will honor Diana’s memory by becoming more educated about the disease and learn how to take steps to fight against it.
Dr. Denenberg has also funded the Dianna Denenberg Durand Spirit Garden and Statue, which is located in the courtyard of Millersville University’s Stayer Hall. Diana was a 67’ graduate from Millersville State Teachers College with a degree in mathematics, she was also avidly involved in the College, and she was Editor-in-Chief of the University newspaper the Snapper in 1967 as well.
On October 21st Dr. Denenberg presented a shortened version of “Hooray for Heroes” at the Millersville University Ware Center in downtown Lancaster. All proceeds from the event went to support a new Millersville University endowment entitled, “Diana’s Dreamers: Determined to Defeat Breast Cancer.” Under this endowment, funds will go directly towards the University’s student health and wellness teaching with particular emphasis on breast health and awareness. The ultimate goal of “Hooray for Heroes” is to encourage the recognition of real and unsung heroes in our lives. “My sister Diana is my unsung hero,” said Denenberg.
Millersville University President, Dr. Francine McNairy, introduced Dr. Denenberg at the event. Dr. Denenberg also discussed many famous and unsung heroes, along with Harry Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt. When speaking of Eleanor Dr. Denenberg said, “Eleanor Roosevelt was probably the greatest first lady we have ever had, her story is so amazing, and I love role playing her character.”
Dr. Denenberg keeps going above and beyond, thanks to his $10,000 donation, Millersville University Health Services will have a new breast cancer resource room dedicated to educate students and the local community about the disease. On November 27th a formal dedication of “The Diana and Marsha Breast Cancer Awareness Center” will take place at 3 P.M. in the Health Services Building. Dr. Francine McNairy was a very good friend of Marsha Frerichs (who lost her battle to breast cancer in 2008, she was the golf team coach for Penn Manor High School) and has agreed to speak; Dr. Northwall will also speak about the new center’s breast cancer awareness initiatives. Dr. Denenberg will serve as an emcee and will also read the poem by Marsha, “Say the Word” and "Diana's Creed” Both husbands - Dr. Rich Frerichs (MY Professor emeritus) and Donald Durand - will be in attendance as well members of their families for support and thankfulness.
The new resource room will not provide medical advice. Rather, the staff will aid college women in identifying resources and will offer referrals. Also, the space will offer a computer system that will assist visitors in learning about family history, risk factors for breast cancer and related information. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths of women in the United States. Ladies, be informed, be aware, know that facts and risks of breast cancer and how to prevent it, and the steps to take in treating it.