With a megawatt smile and adventurous spirit, Marlena Penn, 16, is a high school junior, master scuba diver, and talented underwater photographer. She has been eye-to-eye with an octopus and captured its spectacular changes in color. Evidently, her bravery and glossy, auburn curls come from her mother, Norma Roth, who is a writer, speaker, volunteer extraordinaire, and breast cancer survivor.
Put them together in an interview room, and you can feel the girl power about to burst through the door.
Even though they have a packed schedule, twice a year the pair travels from Cherry Hill, N.J., to visit The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as participants in the “Lessons in Epidemiology and Genetics of Adult Cancer from Youth” (LEGACY Girls Study).
Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the LEGACY study is unique in its focus on healthy, young girls and how their habits and development are related to breast health. LEGACY researchers hope to identify risk factors and lifestyle modifications that could potentially be addressed early enough to prevent or diminish the effects of cancer.
“We’ve seen a lot of death on both sides of my mother’s family from breast cancer, but as detection and treatment has advanced, we’ve seen better outcomes,” Norma said. “I always thought there also was some kind of environmental link. So it was interesting to me to see that the LEGACY study was tracking the health and diet of young girls to see what effects it might have on breast cancer development in the future.”
To learn more about this exciting program, see the 2014 Research Annual Report!