The Cancer Support Community (CSC) is one of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance’s national Partner Members, a relationship that strengthens both groups. Vice President of Education and Outreach Ivy Ahmed notes: “We’re not a tumor specific organization—we serve people with all cancer types. Being a Partner Member of the Alliance helps us provide resources specific to ovarian cancer and the unique set of challenges this disease poses. We complement each other’s work.”
While CSC is a national organization, it also provides support services through a network of more than 50 local affiliates and 100 satellite locations. CSC’s goal is to support patients’ social and emotional support as they cope with cancer. “For us, social and emotional health are as important as clinical care. We want patients to feel their best during and after treatment,” says Ivy. In-person support groups are supplemented with online and telephone programs, so that cancer patients “never have to face cancer alone.”
In addition to support services, CSC is known for its educational resources for cancer patients and caregivers. “We try to create pieces you can pick up at any stage of the cancer journey,” says Ivy. For instance, the booklets in CSC’s “Frankly Speaking About Cancer” series include information about coping with the cost of care, managing side effects and new discoveries in cancer, all written in an easy-to-understand, conversational tone. The materials appeal to a broad swath of people affected by cancer. “We get requests from hospitals, patients, caregivers, friends—a really wide range of audiences,” notes Maria Smith, Manager, Communications and Events.
As a Partner Member, the CSC staff attend each Ovarian Cancer National Alliance Annual Conference. “The conference is a phenomenal event,” says Ivy. “We can brush up on our expertise in ovarian cancer and learn about latest medical advances. It’s also a chance to connect with women who have ovarian cancer and understand from a firsthand perspective what they need.” CSC joins other Partner Members in the exhibit hall, where women with ovarian cancer can learn about the resources and services the organization offers.
CSC will get more patient and caregiver perspective at a Cancer Summit being held on November 5. Hosted in Washington, DC, the event will feature three experts in cancer care: Roger C. Herdman, MD, Director of the Board on Healthcare Services at the Institute of Medicine (IOM); Stephen Edge, MD, Chair of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer and Allen Lichter, MD, CEO of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The panelists will discuss recent advances in psychosocial oncology, progress against the 2007 IOM report Cancer Care for the Whole Patient, as well as recent initiatives from their respective organizations. The event will be hosted by Susan Dentzer, health issues analyst on PBS NewsHour. The Summit will also feature an exhibition period prior to and following the summit where organizations in the non-profit, health and oncology community will present on recent activities and updates in the arena.
Although the Alliance focuses on ovarian cancer “it speaks to activities at the national level that affect all cancers,” says Ivy. “It’s a great resource for us. If I have a question, I call the Alliance. Being able to have that expertise is a great asset.”
Through the Partner Member program, both CSC and the Alliance are better able to serve the needs of cancer patients. As Ivy says, “It’s great to be part of a network.”