Holy Name Medical Center announced on Friday it received a $25,000 Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA) grant to develop and launch Woman to Woman, a peer support program for women diagnosed with gynecologic cancer.
The medical center said that the program pairs gynecologic cancer patients with trained survivor volunteers who provide one-on-one support and mentoring from the moment of diagnosis through the end of treatment.
“We are so thrilled to receive this grant,” said Dr. Sharyn Lewin, director of the division of gynecologic oncology at the Patricia Lynch Cancer Center at Holy Name. “This is an incredible opportunity for us to connect our patients with women who understand – on a deeper level – what they are going through.”
During program development, survivor volunteers will receive intensive training focused on active listening, communication skills, and how to address cultural differences. They also will receive an overview of gynecologic cancers and the issues associated with them, in addition to gaining a deeper understanding of their own relationship to their illness.
Once training is complete, survivor volunteers will be matched with patients based on cancer type, age, language and culture, patient preferences, and other relevant factors. Then, they’ll meet one-on-one with their matched patients to listen, discuss concerns, and provide guidance and support.
“We’re thrilled to be reaching even more women with this program,” said Audra Moran, president and chief executive officer of OCRA. “Our volunteers listen, share advice, sometimes just hold hands. But it’s these special bonds that can give hope at a very scary time, and that is critical.”
“When you’re faced with any type of cancer, having someone who can relate to your experience can be extremely beneficial, both mentally and emotionally, said Lewin. “We see this program as a unique way to support and strengthen our patients.”
The Woman-to-Woman program was first established in New York in 2004 and has since been implemented in more than 40 hospitals and community-based organizations throughout the county.