Woman to Woman program expands to breast cancer patients

Baylor College of Medicine’s Woman to Woman program, created in 2014 to support those suffering from gynecological cancers, has expanded its services to the Lester & Sue Smith Breast Center based on the needs of its metastatic breast cancer patients.

Woman to Woman pairs cancer patients with survivors who offer guidance and encouragement. From treatments to day-to-day struggles, women are able to openly talk about their illness. They also receive mentorship and emotional support from women who have been in their shoes.                                                                       Women to find support from survivors with new Baylor Woman to Woman program

“We are thrilled to join with the Breast Center to offer these services to our patients,” said Dr. Celestine Tung, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor. Dr. Tung helped facilitate the expansion.

Courtney Vastine, medical social worker and program coordinator for the Woman to Woman program at Baylor, will train the breast cancer mentors on providing appropriate peer support to metastatic breast cancer patients.

“Our patients will now have psychosocial needs addressed, along with their medical care, in hopes of improving their overall outcome,” Vastine said. “Survivors are trained through a course on providing appropriate peer support to patients, which includes an interactive practice training to simulate patient care scenarios.”

Currently, the Woman to Woman program has 10 trained gynecologic oncology mentors who are actively providing support to patients. They are currently working on scheduling training for new mentors in the next couple of months.

Reida McDowell, clinic manager of the Breast Center who also assisted in this expansion, is hopeful that the program will help positively affect patients’ experiences.

“We are pleased to have Courtney Vastine on our Breast Oncology team to provide additional support to our patients. We are developing the Woman to Woman program for metastatic breast cancer patients to improve patient experience and outcomes.”

Dr. Polly Nirvath, assistant professor in the Smith Breast Center, who is also involved in the program, is excited for the new advancement.

“This program gives our patients a chance to impart their experience and support to the newer patients who are just starting their journey,” Nirvath said.

Others who played a role in expanding the program include Dr. Matthew Ellis, director of the Breast Center, and Joshua Newby, community projects coordinator for the breast center.

Are you a breast cancer survivor or know of a survivor who might be interested in becoming a mentor? Contact Courtney Vastine for more information.

By Jeannette Jimenez

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