Cooper University Health Care Patient Receives New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research Patient Advocacy Award

Barbara Raphael, breast cancer advocate.

MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper patient, Barbara Raphael, recently received the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research (NJCCR) Patient Advocacy Award after being nominated by her physician, Dr. Generosa Grana.

The NJCCR Patient Advocacy Award recognizes members in the community who work to support cancer patients, whether pushing for early detection, better treatment options, or support for cancer research. Previous award recipients include cancer survivors who have used their strength to continue the fight to defeat cancer long after treatment is done.

“Barbara has been a patient of mine for 20 years. In 2003, she was initially diagnosed with left ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS.) In 2018, she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC),” said Generosa Grana, MD, FACP, director of MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper and division head of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Cooper University Hospital. “After accepting her new metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, Barbara quickly decided she needed to focus on staying alive and networking with others who were also living with the disease.”

In 2019, Raphael utilized social media to connect with a Delaware Valley-based group, Living with MBC Support Group (Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania). The group connected online daily but would also schedule ‘meet-ups’ in person, which led to fundraising research efforts through Metavivor. Later that year, members of the group traveled to Washington, D.C., to petition to Congress to pass several bills that would help funding for MBC research. During this time, Raphael became close friends to the group’s leader. Erica Griffiths, who was a young mother. Unfortunately, her friend succumbed to her disease in 2021. In her grief, Raphael was more determined than ever to help raise funds to end MBC, particularly in young women. She participated in numerous fundraisers for Metavivor Research and personally raised over $10,000 for the cause.

In the years since joining the support group, Raphael has lost many friends with MBC, but continues to be an advocate for others with this disease. By attending conferences and joining several organizations, including Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Unite for Her, she has educated herself and others on the latest treatments and developments in MBC.

“While Barbara displays much humility in identifying herself as a ‘team player’ in her participation with these organizations and fund-raising initiatives, I personally know that her involvement has been a game-changer in the lives of many women living with metastatic breast cancer,” said Dr. Grana. “I find her to be a champion in the fight, and she is truly deserving of this award. Even while dealing with her own health challenges, she has worked tirelessly to raise money to ensure that others with the disease have access to activities, mentoring, and fellowship with others fighting metastatic breast cancer.”

About MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper

MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper is South Jersey’s leading cancer center. Through our partnership with MD Anderson Cancer Center – a world-renowned cancer center – our patients have access to advanced cancer treatments. Our multidisciplinary, patient-centered approach to cancer care combines the expertise of our highly skilled cancer specialists with innovative diagnostic and treatment technologies and groundbreaking clinical trials.

MD Anderson at Cooper takes a disease-site-specific approach to cancer care. Experts from every area of cancer medicine work together to provide each patient with outstanding care from diagnosis to treatment, recovery, and beyond. Patients also have access to our full range of supportive care services throughout their cancer journey. Learn more at


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