Tailored to individual needs, the free program offers long-term counseling, referrals, and other resources. The services are available at any stage to anyone who has ever had ovarian cancer, as well as to caregivers.
During its pilot phase, the program is open to 150 women. With additional funding and more partners, Steps Through OC could continue beyond its first year, according to a press release.
The Susan Poorman Blackie Ovarian Cancer Foundation (SPB Foundation) is providing initial funding, while the program is being hosted by the Clearity Foundation, which provides personalized science-based treatment information to patients and families.
Together, these foundations designed a program combining expert psychosocial care with authoritative, practical ovarian cancer information and resources. Because the disease is usually diagnosed at a later stage and often returns, enhanced support is needed for patients or survivors and their loved ones.
“An ovarian cancer diagnosis is a highly personal experience that can impact women not only physically, but emotionally, socially and spiritually as well,” said Hillary Theakston, executive director of Clearity. “Steps Through OC helps people live with ovarian cancer on their own terms.”
In addition to providing counseling, she said the program helps participants navigate through the maze of pertinent resources to improve stress-coping skills and patients’ overall lives.
The program starts with six months of counseling and education, and can continue indefinitely. Each participant is paired with a counselor who takes a holistic view of the participant’s clinical state. Each counselor has a master’s degree and experience in ovarian cancer support and oncology social work.
“In spite of outstanding medical care, financial resources and clinical support, our family struggled through my mom’s ovarian cancer experience,” said Buck Dodson, a licensed therapist and president and executive director of the SPB Foundation.
Counselors will help participants develop a personalized support plan. A newly diagnosed patient, for instance, may need help understanding treatment options. Others may need guidance to manage treatment side effects, while those in remission could benefit from energy-restoring strategies. Caregivers may be facing stressful family or financial issues.
The foundation spent a year researching and conducting interviews with those affected by ovarian cancer, asking what actions it should take to improve the quality of lives. Those responses helped shape the program.
“Steps Through OC offers personalized support from someone who’s informed about the specifics of their disease, picks up where medical providers and general resources leave off, and holds a big-picture view to help guide the way through symptoms, emotions, information and decisions that can seem overwhelming,” Dodson said.
Go here to register, or call 866-830-5134.
The mission of the five-year-old Susan Poorman Blackie Ovarian Cancer Foundation is to empower women through knowledge of ovarian cancer, and promote innovative, promising research for early detection and treatment.