Woman to Woman Program for Upstate South Carolina
“To know the road ahead, ask those coming back,” suggests a Chinese proverb. Learning what to expect and how to cope from women who have already been through the process can make an intimidating and unfamiliar route easier to travel.
Many ovarian cancer patients have found it enormously helpful to connect with women who have traveled the same path. We can help by offering the wisdom, compassion and support of those who have endured a similar experience.
Woman to Woman is a program of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance (OCRFA). Ovarian cancer survivors from the South Carolina Ovarian Cancer Foundation’s Upstate group serve as volunteer mentors in this program which is available to patients from all area hospital systems. The local program coordinator is based at Greenville Health System and may be reached at 864-455-5694.
Woman to Woman is a unique support program that pairs gynecologic cancer patients with trained survivor volunteers who provide one-on-one emotional support and mentoring to women when they need it most. From the moment of diagnosis through the end of treatment, Woman to Woman survivor volunteers help women and their families cope with gynecologic cancer.
Survivor volunteers meet one-on-one with the patients with whom they are matched to listen, discuss concerns, provide advice and support, and sometimes, just hold a hand. Volunteers are carefully matched to new patients based on cancer type, age, language and culture, patient preferences, as well as other relevant factors. They are professionally trained and supervised by a coordinator who also oversees the program (typically a hospital social worker or nurse practitioner). During their intensive training session, volunteers learn active listening, communication skills, and how to address cultural differences. In addition, they receive an overview of gynecologic cancers and the issues associated with them, and gain an understanding of their own relationship to their illness as they prepare to volunteer. These survivor volunteers give hope, along with the special insights that can only come from someone with her own personal gynecologic cancer experience.
On September 13, 2016, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance announced seven new Woman to Woman grant recipients:
- Greenville Health System, Greenville, SC
- Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY
- Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
- University of Miami, Miami, FL
- Western New York Ovarian Cancer Project, Buffalo, New York
- Wisconsin Ovarian Cancer Alliance, New Berlin, WI
The first Woman to Woman program was founded in 2004 at the Mount Sinai Medical Center by ovarian cancer survivor Valerie Goldfein in collaboration with the Mount Sinai Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and the Mount Sinai Department of Social Work. Valerie’s goal in starting the program was to alleviate some of the fear and loneliness she experienced at the time of her diagnosis with ovarian cancer. OCRFA (then OCRF) was an early funder of the Woman to Woman program at Mount Sinai.
QVC and Woman to Woman Expansion
Recognizing a significant need for greater support for women with gynecologic cancers and their families, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance (then OCRF) launched a national expansion of Woman to Woman in 2011 with the very generous support of the program’s national sponsor, QVC. The company’s $1 million pledge toward the expansion of the program has enabled Woman to Woman to reach patients throughout the United States and provide them with the care and resources they need following a diagnosis. QVC aspires to leverage the power of relationships to help women lead healthy lives– and to do so by supporting women at critical times throughout their lives. To that end, QVC is helping to build caring communities for women during illness and invest in research for cures. The company has donated an incredible $6 million toward OCRFA’s mission of finding a cure for ovarian cancer while supporting patients and their families. OCRFA gratefully acknowledges QVC’s partnership and commitment to the Woman to Woman program and its mission to enhance the quality of care for all women.