Sharsheret, a national nonprofit organization supporting young women of Jewish backgrounds fighting breast cancer, has partnered with the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center to evaluate and revamp its culturally relevant breast cancer support program.
With $350,000 in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sharsheret will work with the Cancer Center to determine how to use the funds to improve the LINK program, Sharsheret’s program that provides breast cancer support interventions, including peer support, genetics information and survivorship resources.
According to the CDC, more than 220,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States each year, and more than 40,000 women die annually as a result of the disease. Women of Eastern European or Ashkenazi Jewish backgrounds are more susceptible to developing the disease due to mutations found in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
“We are honored to have been selected by the CDC to amplify out tailored breast cancer programming for young Jewish women,” Sharsheret Founder and Executive Director Rochelle Shortez said in an official press release. “In collaboration with more than 40 Sharsheret partners nationwide, we will work to serve more than 40,000 Jewish women and caregivers, enhancing the quality of life and reducing the cancer burden for young breast cancer survivors.”
Kenneth Tercyak, associate professor of oncology and pediatrics at the Lombardi Center, described the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center’s unique position at the forefront of breast cancer research as having the potential to contribute tangibly to Sharsheret’s mission.
“We are a [National Cancer Institute]-designated comprehensive cancer center, and conduct research across the continuum of basic science to clinical application to community translation and policy impact. We will bring this knowledge and skill to Sharsheret’s programs to help the population of women they serve,” Tercyak said. “Our partnership emerged as a result of the mutual interests shared by our two organizations in addressing the needs of women facing the threat of, and surviving with, breast cancer.”
Through the partnership, the Lombardi Center will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the LINK Program, ensuring that it is conducted through scientific methods and is well-tailored to the needs of young women. The multi-step process engaging various organizations and health agencies will allow the center to gain valuable insight into the operations of Sharsheret to set them up with improved breast cancer support programming and resources.
“We will then develop and use a number of performance metrics and indicators to determine the quality, quantity and logistics of breast cancer support program service delivery over time. This includes leveraging Sharsheret’s existing informatics resources about their population served, as well as gathering new data through interviews, focus groups and surveys,” Tercyak said.
Tercyak hoped that the evaluation would allow both Sharsheret and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center to provide better support to more women through this collaboration, particularly focusing on women with genetic and genomic breast cancer risks and women from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds.
“Ultimately, the goal is to serve and support more women and to do so with highest quality programs that are guided by the best scientific evidence available,” Tercyak said.