Women’s Breast Health Fund announces Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Initiative

The Women’s Breast Health Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham awards $287,000 grant for Breast Cancer Survivorship Rehabilitation Initiative

As early detection and treatment options improve for breast cancer patients, the number of survivors increases. In a recent report, The Institute of Medicine noted that many breast cancer survivors become lost in the transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor. Recognizing cancer survivorship as a distinct phase of cancer care deserves ongoing attention from cancer and other healthcare providers.

Due to decreased funding for support services, individual health care providers often find it challenging to offer a full range of rehabilitation services once cancer survivors complete their treatment. The Breast Cancer Survivorship Rehabilitation Initiative is tackling that issue head-on through an unprecedented collaborative effort involving all major health systems in the Greater Birmingham area.

The initiative will address the feasibility of creating and sustaining a community-based, patient-centered breast cancer survivorship into a single unified and supportive program. An integrated survivorship program will offer the opportunity to improve care-coordination across the entire spectrum of breast care and help to reduce disparities in the care provided to cancer survivors. The long-term goal of the initiative is to develop a sustainable model that can be replicated in other areas of the state.

“Life after cancer treatment can be physically and emotionally challenging,” says Madeline Harris, Director of the Women’s Breast Health Fund at the Community Foundation, “and rehabilitation is an important part of completing treatment for survivors.  We know that patient-centered survivorship programs can help prevent other medical conditions, reduce healthcare costs and improve their quality of life after treatment. This is an amazing opportunity to make an impact on the lives of breast cancer survivors everywhere. ”

The project will be directed by a leadership team representing area health-care systems as well as the Community Foundation. Team members include Betsy Postlethwait, President, Princeton Baptist, Alice Johnson, Assistant Chief Executive Officer, Trinity Medical Center, Chris Nanni, President, Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Brenda Carlisle, Chief Operating Officer, Brookwood Hospital, Karen Meneses, Professor and Associate Dean for Research, UAB School of Nursing, David Randall, Strategic Planning and Business Development, UAB Health Services Foundation, and Wayne Carmello-Harper, President and Chief Philanthropy Officer, St. Vincent’s Foundation.

The Women’s Breast Health Fund (WBHF) was established as a Field of Interest Fund in 2009. The purpose of the fund is to provide support for holistic breast cancer care for women and their loved ones from the time of diagnosis for the rest of their lives. Recent grants have supported the creation of the Young Breast Cancer Survivors Network, the launch of a Cancer Resource App and UAB’s Harvest for Health Study supporting a gardening program for breast cancer survivors.

More information about WBHF