Alumna Invites Participation in Sister Study for Breast Cancer Research

December 7, 2006

The following letter was sent to women’s colleges around the country by Marisol Euceda ’04, an account executive with Hager Sharp, an independent, nonprofit marketing firm based in Washington, DC. Sister Study is one of the accounts for which Euceda is responsible; her solicitation for participants in the study highlights an issue close to Mary Baldwin University’s heart. Find Sister Study online at

Dear Mary Baldwin University,

As an institution whose mission is to educate and empower women I would like to introduce you to a powerful way some of your alumnae can get involved with finding the causes of breast cancer through the Sister Study breast cancer research project.

Most women know someone — a sister, mother, friend or classmate — who has been affected by this dreaded disease and that is why women are motivated to find a cure. What if women could participate in a study that could help find the causes of the disease?

A little about the Sister Study:

    • Conducted by the National Institutes for Environmental Health Sciences, the Sister Study looks at how the environment and genes affect the risk of getting breast cancer.
A human pink ribbon made by supporters in Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • The landmark study that currently has 30,000 sisters of women who have or had breast cancer enrolled but needs to enroll 50,000 women participating by September of 2007.




  • The Sister Study is studying sisters because research has shown that sisters of women with breast cancer have about double the risk of developing breast cancer themselves compared to women who do not have a first degree relative.




  • Women in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, ages 35 to 74, may be eligible to join the Sister Study if their sisters (living or deceased) had breast cancer.




  • Breast cancer affects women from every walk of life, so the Sister Study is seeking women of all backgrounds, occupations, ages, and ethnic groups.


We invite you to help us by spreading the word about this study to your alumnae and friends who have a sister who has or had breast cancer. We need women and we need them now. Below is a press release with more information. We also have pre-written articles and public service announcements of various sizes that you can drop into your publications. Contact me if you need more information or would like to interview someone about the study. Thank you for your time.

Best of health,
Marisol Euceda
On behalf of the Sister Study
202-842-3600 ext. 233

The Sister Study banner


For Immediate Release

Kim Varner (202) 842-3600 x245,

More than 30,000 Women Have Joined the Sister Study

20,000 Sisters still needed to help find the causes of breast cancer

Research Triangle Park, N.C. – The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) needs 20,000 more women to join the Sister Study, the nation’s largest research effort to find the causes of breast cancer. Researchers still don’t know what causes the disease. NIEHS hopes to enroll a total of 50,000 women whose sisters had breast cancer. The Sister Study must meet its enrollment goal in less than one year.

Since its national launch in October 2004, The Sister Study has successfully recruited more than 30,000 participants — women whose sisters were diagnosed with breast cancer. Recruitment is far from over.

“Many women have heard about the Sister Study, but they haven’t signed up yet, and we really need them now,” said Dale Sandler, Ph.D., Chief of the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS and Principal Investigator of the Sister Study. “Doctors know very little about how the environment may affect breast cancer, that is why the Sister Study is so important. We hope women will make that call today,” she added.

Available in English and Spanish, the Sister Study requires very little time from its volunteers. The 10-year observational study begins with participants answering questions about diet, jobs, hobbies, and things they’ve been exposed to throughout their lives to determine what may influence breast cancer risk. Later, at a convenient time and location for the participant, a female health technician collects small samples of blood, urine, toenail clippings, and house dust, which will also help give researchers a better picture of the woman’s environment and genes.

Women in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, ages 35 to 74, may be eligible to join the Sister Study if their sisters (living or deceased) had breast cancer. Women who join the Sister Study must never have been diagnosed with breast cancer themselves. Breast cancer affects women from every walk of life, so the Sister Study is seeking women of all backgrounds, occupations, ages, and ethnic groups.

“If you’re a woman of color whose sister had breast cancer, your participation in the Sister Study is especially important,” continued Dr. Sandler. “We want to learn more about how to protect your daughters and your granddaughters from this devastating disease.”

Ada Pacheco, age 52, a Sister Study participant who lives in New York enrolled in the Sister Study in honor of her sister Carmen Pacheco, a 14-year breast cancer survivor in Puerto Rico.

“I need to know why my sister had breast cancer and not me,” said Ada, who is 11 months younger than her sister. “We were born in the same place, raised together, ate the same food?Why my sister Carmencita and not me?”

“My sister called to tell me about her breast cancer diagnosis in May,” said Katherine Ott, who works as a publications manager. “In a flash, my professional life became very personal. Every journal article I read, every breast cancer manuscript I edited, every statistic I checked suddenly was flesh and blood and had a face and a name.”

Katherine learned about the Sister Study shortly after her sister, Mandy Jackson of Dallas was diagnosed with breast cancer. She told Mandy about the study and promised that she’d enroll.

“At last, here was an undertaking that captured my heart and my head,” said Katherine. “If there’s one thing I understand, it’s the importance of research studies.”

The Sister Study follows sound, ethical research practices, and keeps all personal data safe, private and confidential. Women who join are not asked to take any medicine, visit a medical center, or make any changes to their habits, diet or daily life.

Organizations that are in partnership with the Sister Study include the American Cancer Society, NIH’s National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Sisters Network Inc., the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, and the Intercultural Cancer Council. In addition to working with its national partners, the Sister Study works with local, regional, and national organizations to inform diverse women about the study.

To volunteer or learn more about the Sister Study, visit the web site , or for Spanish visit A toll free number is also available 1-877-4SISTER (877-474-7837). Deaf/Hard of Hearing call 1-866-TTY-4SIS (866-889-4747).