Founding Advocates

The Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance (LBCA) was founded by a handful of women with invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) who decided to take action and do more for others facing the same diagnosis.

In 2016 a group of women with ILC attended the first International Lobular Breast Cancer Symposium. At that time, ILC was just beginning to be recognized as a breast cancer type with distinct molecular make up and behaviors. Emerging from the conference and angered by the lack of research into ILC and awareness about this breast cancer type, the women committed to actively raise awareness about ILC, form alliances, and provide a forum through which to support patients with ILC, and advocate vocally for more ILC research. Early in 2017, they launched the Lobular Breast Cancer Alliance to address these needs. 

Leigh Pate

Leigh Pate, LBCA Founder, was a public affairs consultant, communications specialist, writer, trained cancer research advocate, and two-time cancer patient. She attended the first international Lobular Breast Cancer symposium in 2016, and led the formation and growth of the LBCA as its coordinator and director until Spring 2020. Leigh remained active in LBCA and committed to LBCA’s growth and success until we lost her to ovarian cancer on June 25, 2022.  Read our Executive Director’s reflections on the passing of Leigh. Visit her tribute page.

Janice Axelrod LBCA

Janice Axelrod, our Research and Communication Officer, is a retired physician gynecologic oncologist, who devoted her professional life to treating women with gynecologic malignancies and was a member and principle investigator of the Gynecology Oncology Group, a research group for gynecologic malignancies. Now retired and a lobular breast cancer survivor, she is focused on breast cancer research advocacy. Her interests include research, patient education, and reaching out to clinicians about lobular breast cancer. More …

Meg Kotler, Founding Advocate

Meg Kotler, Kensington, MD. She was a registered nurse with a specialty in public health. As a two-time breast cancer survivor, she was committed to advocacy and patient education about this disease. Our hearts are heavy at LBCA as we share the news that Meg passed away on January 20, 2022. Read our tribute to her. 

Julia Levine

Julia Katherine Levine, our Lead Research Advocate and Publications/Clinical Trials Curator, is a metastatic breast cancer survivor and a founding member of LBCA. She is committed to advocating, researching, and educating patients, clinicians, and others about lobular breast cancer and in particular, metastatic lobular breast cancer. She has created and presented an educational webinar on metastatic ILC for the Komen Metastatic Breast Cancer conferences. More…

Diane Mapes

Diane Mapes, Seattle, WA. She is a journalist and patient advocate working at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. She writes about research and the patient experience in the realm of prevention/risk reduction, health disparities, health economics, early detection/screening, and survivorship. Diane blogs and tweets as @double_whammied.

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Flora Migyanka, Ann Arbor, MI. She is an account executive with a global oncology biotech company, a yoga teacher and patient advocate for the University of Michigan. She is committed to raising awareness to researchers and clinicians about ILC.

Barbara Neilsen

Barbara Neilsen, Ohio. When she was diagnosed in 2017, there was still little awareness of lobular breast cancer as a disease that is distinct from the other types of breast cancer. This remains true in the medical and patient communities. Barbara is working to raise awareness and advocate for advances in detection and treatment more appropriate to this disease.

Lori Petitti

Lori Petitti, Los Angeles, CA. She is a founding member of LBCA and a former television and documentary producer. Her interests are research advocacy, mentoring newly diagnosed patients, and raising awareness on the unique aspects of lobular breast cancer.

Elizabeth Viggiano

Elizabeth Viggiano, OR. She was diagnosed with de novo stage 4 metastatic lobular breast cancer, despite years of normal mammograms. Elizabeth was devoted to working with researchers and clinicians to improve detection and treatment of lobular breast cancer. LBCA is saddened to share the news that our friend and fierce ILC research advocate passed away on August 31, 2021. Read her tribute

LBCA Scientific Advisory Board Founding Chair

Dr. Steffi Oesterreich

Steffi Oesterreich, PhD – LBCA Scientific Advisory Board Founder, Professor and Vice Chair of Pharmacology at the University of Pittsburgh, Co-Leader of the Cancer Biology Program at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, and Co-Director Magee Womens Research Institute, is a researcher with an interest in endocrine resistance in breast cancer, with a focus on invasive lobular breast cancer. She is passionate about increased understanding of development and progression of ILC, and enjoys working in multidisciplinary teams, along with patient advocates, with the ultimate goal to decrease suffering from this disease.  More …

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