SWFL Metsquerade Co-Chairs
Karin Petrocelli, Marie Whalen and Sandy Vandenbeghe

Karin M. Petrocelli 

Founder SWFL Metsquerade

Marie Whalen

Co-Chair SWFL Metsquerade

Sandy Vandenberghe

Co-Chair SWFL Metsquerade

Karin Petrocelli was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer at age 45 and again with Stage 4 or as it is also called, Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) at age 50. Karin is a wife and mother of four daughters and has, since her metastatic diagnosis, been an avid advocate for breast cancer research and its funding. Upon her diagnosis she started a Facebook blog “My life with Metastatic Breast Cancer” where she share the difficulties dealing with her devastating disease. Over the years, while attending several conferences held throughout the country and through her blog, Karin has learned everything possible about MBC and connected with many other women sharing her disease. One of the first thing that became very clear is the lack of funding for breast cancer research. Of the funds raised during all the nationwide Pink Ribbon campaigns, only a mere 4-7% are being donated to research. To the metastatic community this is devastating. MBC has no cure and the average life expectancy after a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis is just 24 - 33 months. Therefore, research is of utmost importance to find ways to prolong the life of MBC patients. Hence, fundraisers like tonight’s Metsquerade is crucial to our survival. Two years ago, after learning about the 2nd Annual Metsquerade benefiting Metavivor held in Arkansas by two metastatic breast cancer patients (Kelli Davis & Lisa Cooper-Quinn), Karin decided to host the 1st Annual SWFL Metsquerade in 2018.

Marie Whalen  - born in West Hartford, Connecticut.  She got her Masters in Business from the University of Connecticut and was the Chief Operating Officer at the University of Connecticut Medical Group at the School of Medicine.  Over the years she has raised money for various health organizations such as the American Heart Association, Juvenile Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society.  Since her retirement, her efforts have been raising funds with Team Bella Terra for the Relay For Life as cancer has, unfortunately, affected many of her family members and friends. These profound losses intensified her desire to help raise funds to find a cure for this devastating disease.  In 2017 Marie became Team Bella Terra’s Team Captain. Marie and Karin have been close friends for several years and after learning about Metavivor Research & Support and due to Karin's MBC diagnosis, her priorities changed along with her team mates’. Marie and Team Bella Terra are now supporting Metavivor 100% by raising funds to award research grants for research proposals by career metastasis researchers aimed at improving the lives and longevity of the already metastasized patient.


Sandy Vandenberghe from Maple Grove, Minnesota has been an integral part of Team Bella Terra and their fundraising efforts since the start in 2012. Sandy and Karin have been friends for many years and together they have organized several fundraisers for the American Cancer Society. Sandy has a niece, age 27, and a cousin who are both diagnosed with MBC. After learning about Metavivor and their mission, Sandy came to appreciate the importance of research, thus, when asked by Karin to be the event co-chair alongside her and Marie she agreed without hesitation to take on this role. Sandy, along with Karin and Marie is dedicated in helping Metavivor to transition MBC into a chronic, manageable disease with a decent quality of life for the women diagnosed with the disease. Sandy is a strong "behind the scene" co-chair, she is well organized and detail oriented which is essential in putting on an event like the Metsquerade.