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CMH Breast Center Receives Komen Grant (April 29, 2014)

Funding provides mentoring, survivorship support

Calvert Memorial Hospital has received another grant from Susan G. Komen® Maryland to offer mentoring and survivorship support services at the Sheldon E. Goldberg Center for Breast Care. The SOS (Survivors Offer Support) program – now in its third year at CMH – provides peer emotional support and practical advice to newly diagnosed patients as they cope with the challenges and changes they experience during treatment.

SOS also offers a partner support workshop for spouses, significant others and family members of newly diagnosed patients along with “Transition to Wellness” workshops for survivors evolving from treatment to wellness.

“We are very grateful to Komen Maryland for providing this grant that will allow us to continue offering these vital services to our community,” said Kasia Sweeney, administrative chair for the breast center at CMH. “SOS helps make the cancer journey less overwhelming by providing essential information and a shoulder to lean on.”

Komen Maryland awarded grants to seven programs on the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland. The funds support programs focused on screening, emergency assistance, community outreach and survivorship services.

Calvert’s breast center brings together a team of breast health experts – including breast imaging specialists from Johns Hopkins – with an experienced navigator back by the latest technology in one comfortable and convenient location. The center is located on the hospital’s main campus in Prince Frederick.

“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 doneill@cmhlink.org.

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. O’Neill said 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,” she said, “It allows survivors to give back in a meaningful way in the capacity that they can. We ask them to mentor at least one person per year.”

According to O’Neill, volunteers typically spend 20-25 hours per year based on their schedule. “Phone skills are definitely important. Most contact is by phone or email,” she said, “but we coach them to meet in person at least once.”

To participate, mentors must submit an application along with two signed physician referrals, undergo an interview and complete a 4-hour training program. “I’m always available to support the mentors,” said O’Neill. “They can call me at any time if they have questions or concerns.”

Pictured (l-r) are Former Komen Maryland Board Chair Amy Heinrich, Edla Coleman, Eastern Shore SOS Coordinator; Denise O’Neill, SOS Coordinator at Calvert and Kelly Kesler, Community Health Director, Komen Maryland.

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