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Breakaway From Cancer Helping Those in the Equine Industry Battling Cancer

Randy Pausch is quoted as saying, “You cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” As you read, you will hear about a 32-year-old woman who couldn’t change the cancer card she was dealt; and, four friends who wanted to help her (and others) play their hand as best as they could. With this 32-year-old as their inspiration, they put their heads and hearts together to make a difference.

Breakaway From Cancer Corporation was a vision that was started by those four friends in Southwest Pennsylvania; John Lucsko, Brian Ralicki, Beth Papotnik and Amy Lucsko. Breakaway From Cancer Corporation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization aiming to provide financial assistance to those in the equine industry battling cancer. This organization started as a vision from four friends in Southwest Pennsylvania and has since broadened to a nine person board spread across the nation; John Lucsko, a Compliance Officer for CFS Bank; Brian Ralicki, CEO of Champion Construction; Beth Papotnik, a seventh grade science teacher; Amy Lucsko, a self-employed Accountant/Bookkeeper; Chelsea Shaffer, an editorial director for the Equine Network; Karen Bisko, a community volunteer; Chris Morgan, President of Elemental Shelter Solutions; Sonya Pollack, an Elementary School teacher; and Doug Brenneman, a minister for Cowboys For Christ.

John, Brian, Beth and Amy, initially, came together when this close 32-year-old friend and relative was diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer. Emily Buchleitner, a wife, mother and breakaway roper received the devastating news of her cancer diagnosis in September, 2021, after finding a lump in her breast. How quickly your mind can go from “deciding which rodeo to enter and when”, to “I hope I live long enough to see my daughter graduate from high school.” Emily approached her diagnosis with fear, then turned to focus and faith with tackling this challenge that she refuses to lose. The positive mindset she keeps through this extremely trying time has truly inspired the four friends.

Cancer is a diagnosis that impacts the entire family with a burden placed on all. John, Brian, Beth and Amy could see the strain placed on Emily and her husband. We couldn’t change Emily’s diagnosis but we could, at least, help to ease the financial burden that cancer has placed on this family with Emily having to take a long, possibly permanent, leave from work for doctors’ appointments, chemotherapy, radiation, and gene-specific treatments.

This is how Breakaway From Cancer Corporation was born. Each year, individuals in the equine industry actively battling cancer can apply for financial assistance. From those applicants, a recipient is selected to receive that assistance through the form of the organization’s “Guiding Light” award. The organization hopes to help ease the financial strain placed on individuals and families, so the individual battling can focus their attention and energy on the fight against cancer. Cancer is an ugly diagnosis that does not discriminate. Cancer impacts far too many of us- directly and/or indirectly.

If you are interested in learning more about Breakaway From Cancer, we urge you to look at the website: or visit the organization’s Facebook or Instagram pages.

As noted before, this nonprofit is for all individuals in the entire equine industry. If you need financial assistance, please keep watch on our website and social media sites for the application for the Guiding Light Award for 2023. If you would like to get involved with the organization by sharing your story of your courageous cancer battle or by making a donation, please reach out. Donations can be made through the website link or by following this direct link:

We appreciate you taking the time to better familiarize yourself with this organization and appreciate your support as we try to broaden our reach to all equine disciplines. We can’t change the diagnosis, but we can help with the battle.