Biology Professor Receives “Fighting Spirit Award” at Coaches vs. Cancer Event

Laura Schatzkamer’s Triumphant Battle Against Breast Cancer Earns Honor at Event at Heinz Field

University Communications & External Relations For Immediate Release
Drew Wilson, Director, Media Relations October 08, 2013
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Pittsburgh, Pa. – Laura Schatzkamer, an assistant professor of biology at Carlow University, received the “Fighting Spirit Award” at the Coaches vs. Cancer Tip-Off Madness event, one of the premier basketball events of its kind in the country and hosted by many area universities’ men’s and women’s basketball coaches, at Heinz Field on October 2, 2013.

In the fall of 2008, Schatzkamer, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from New York University, and teaches anatomy and physiology to nursing students, as well as being the faculty athletics representative and advisor to the dance division at Carlow, felt a lump in her left breast.

“It was small, but clearly not normal,” she recalls. “My first thought was, ‘This can’t happen to me, I’m a healthy person, and my body wouldn’t let me down.’”

That small lump turned out to be cancer and she had surgery in October 2008. As she waited for the surgery to heal and her chemotherapy to begin, she continued to teach her classes, but she was aware of a change in her perspective.

“My world was a new one,” she said. “Instead of syllabi, I was thinking survival.”

She completed her chemo treatment in time to be at the pool for Memorial Day weekend in 2009. One year later, she became a paddler on the Pink Steel dragon boat team, the Breast Cancer Survivor Division of the Steel City Dragon Boat Association. She has not stopped paddling since, and was featured in a television commercial for UPMC along with the rest of her Dragon Boat racers last year. (For more information about dragon boat racing, please visit

“We are a group of women who hang tight together, are there for each other, and have a bond that I don’t believe I would have found under any other circumstances,” said Schatzkamer when she accepted the award. “I accept this award on behalf of my team, because every member of Pink Steel has a fighting spirit.”

Two years ago, Schatzkamer, a Fox Chapel resident, became a personal trainer, specializing in helping other survivors get back into shape after cancer.

“I’m feeling healthy, energetic, and I welcome every new day,” she says.

But even with this positive attitude, Schatzkamer knows there is more to be done, and her message is both direct and simple.

“Cancer can strike any time or any one,” she says. “Just when you least expect it, your world can be turned upside down. We celebrate survival, but – the truth is – we don’t all survive. There is more to do, a real and final cure to be found, and I hope it comes soon.”

About Carlow University

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Carlow University was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1929. Offering both undergraduate and graduate programs, Carlow University is a comprehensive master's institution dedicated to learner-centered education at the collegiate levels and at the elementary school level in the Campus School of Carlow University.

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