How long will my current breast cancer treatment continue to be effective? What do I need to have in place so my kids will have a place to live when I’m gone? Can I contest an eviction notice if I’m undergoing breast cancer treatment? Will I have the strength to go to the store for groceries?
These are just some of the incredibly difficult questions that may cross a metastatic breast cancer patient’s mind from the time of diagnosis throughout the course of the disease that currently has no cure. For medically underserved patients, answering these questions can be nearly impossible, as access to needed resources and care is not readily available, and often not affordable. And the needs of metastatic breast cancer patients are much different than those with an earlier stage of the disease because metastatic patients need life-long care.
Avon-Pfizer Metastatic Breast Cancer Grants Program: Identify-Amplify-Unify
Given the unique needs of this often ignored patient group, the Avon Foundation for Women and Pfizer Oncology created the Avon-Pfizer Metastatic Breast Cancer Grants Program in 2014 to identify and address the gaps in care and services available to this population. The initiative also aimed to unify support and promote collaboration among organizations focused on the metastatic breast cancer community. Supporting 23 organizations with $1 million in grant funding, the one-year program examined best practices to get metastatic breast cancer patients the care and services they need, when they need it.
The first class of grantees helped more than 32,800 individuals through efforts including nutrition counseling, patient navigation, education and palliative care. Nearly 230 caregivers also benefitted from grantee initiatives, and many more families and community members were supported by this work. In addition, some programs included online content, reaching more than 14 million people with information on metastatic breast cancer.
Announcing New Grantees for 2017
On October 13, Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, the Avon-Pfizer Metastatic Breast Cancer Grants Program announced its second group of 22 grantees, supporting promising innovations and practices. This year, the program will also explore new models for engaging care teams, patients and families in care, and provide information to others interested in replicating these programs throughout the country.
Drawing from lessons learned from last year’s grantees about the continued needs of metastatic breast cancer patients, many of these new programs are taking a comprehensive approach to supporting this community and are looking beyond a single-focus intervention to more holistic efforts. Many of the newly-funded programs will support patients as they navigate their needs beyond the oncology clinic, to include nutrition services, legal counsel, and palliative and complimentary integrative medicine.
In addition, many of these programs will strive to meet patients where they are – literally. Among the 22 new programs, there are efforts to examine models that include home-visiting, telemedicine and virtual peer-support. Grantees will also explore opportunities to enhance patient-provider communication to ensure that women and families understand the challenges and subsequent options that come with a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis.
“We want to ensure that women diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer are supported through best practices in comprehensive care. Our hope is that this initiative with Pfizer will increase the ways the health care system can meet the needs of metastatic patients and provide concrete examples of patient-centered programs that can be replicated across the country.” Carolyn Ricci, Program Director of the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade