Our History

Our story starts with a woman born and raised in Buffalo, New York named Shirley Maggio.  Shirley, who faithfully had her annual mammograms and routine physicals, was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in 1992.  Despite fighting hard for 7 years, in early 2000 tumors took over most of her body and she could fight no longer.  She was 63 when she left behind a very close family which included two of our founding board members, Dawn Sagerman and Andrea Whitmarsh.  In 2012, after repeated ‘inconclusive’ mammogram results due to dense breast tissue, Dawn’s primary physician and founding board member, Dr. Yellamraju Kumar referred her for genetic testing.  Both Dawn, Shirley’s daughter, and Andrea, Dawn’s daughter, discovered they had a mutation, or error, in the BRCA gene putting them at a 50-85% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and a 40% lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer.  Faced with many unanswered questions during a time of very difficult decision-making, Dawn, Andrea and Dr. Kumar started the Familial Cancer Foundation of WNY.