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SOS Survivors Offer Support

New CMH program provides one-on-one support


Calvert Memorial Hospital, through a grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation Maryland Affiliate, has created the SOS (Survivors Offer Support) Program at its Center for Breast Care. SOS trains survivors to provide emotional support and practical advice to newly diagnosed patients as they cope with the challenges and changes they experience during treatment.

“Our volunteers can offer insight like no one else can because they’ve tackled the disease themselves,” said Denise O’Neill, who coordinates the SOS program at Calvert. She is at the CMH breast center on Fridays but can also be reached by phone at 410-535-8731 or by email at You can also click here to learn more about mentoring opportunities for 2014 or you can fill out our form to show your area of interest.

O’Neill, who is a breast cancer survivor, created SOS nine years ago. The program is now offered at 12 hospitals in Maryland/Washington DC and serves 22 percent of newly diagnosed patients. “We have 300 mentors statewide ranging from their late 20s to 80s,” she said.

The survivor volunteers have successfully transitioned into life after breast cancer and share a desire to use their cancer experience to help others battle breast cancer. Matches are made based on the patient’s age, stage, surgery and treatment as well as interests and family background.

SOS is a very flexible volunteer program. It allows survivors to give back in a meaningful way to the capacity that they can. Volunteers typically mentor at least one person per year, spending 20-25 hours based on their schedule. Phone skills are definitely important as most contact is by phone or email.  The coaches will also try to meet with them in person at least once during the year.

To participate, mentors must submit an application along with two signed physician referrals, undergo an interview and complete a 4-hour training program.

If you need a mentor or are interested in becoming one, please call O’Neill at 410-535-8731 and she can provide updates on the training session as well as the yearly calendar for support services.

You can also click here to fill out the online mentor request form. The form is also available as a dowloadable pdf which can be mailed or faxed to:

Calvert Medical Arts Center
Center for Breast Care
Attention: SOS /Denise O’Neill
130 Hospital Rd. Suite 201
Prince Frederick, MD 20678

Fax: 443-436-1078

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