A new program to help breast cancer survivors transition to the next phase of their lives will be established at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, thanks to a $2 million donation from Utz Quality Foods Inc., Executive Chairman Michael Rice and his wife Jane, a breast cancer survivor.
As the number of cancer survivors in the United States rises, more specialized services for survivors will be in demand, according to officials at Johns Hopkins. The new gift will establish the Jane Rice Survivorship Program in Breast Cancer, which will provide coordinated, long-term medical care; holistic health services; educational information for patients and families; training for primary and specialty healthcare professionals on the needs of survivors; and coordination of research opportunities related to survivorship.
Michael and Jane Rice and Utz Snacks Inc., will each contribute $1 million toward the gift. Jane Rice was 46 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, in 1990. At the time, she worried about how surgery would alter her appearance and living long enough to see her college-aged children marry and have children of their own, but more importantly, living a more purposeful life, she said. Rice's cancer was treated at Johns Hopkins. But the healing process took longer.
"When you remove the cancer, there are still lingering issues," Rice said. "You need to treat the whole body."
The donation addresses patients' physical, mental, and emotional issues that remain once the breast cancer itself has been treated, and, according to the Rices, continues a philanthropic legacy begun by their family.
"My husband's grandparents, Bill and Salie Utz, who founded Utz Quality Food in 1921, began the legacy of making a difference to organizations and the community," Rice said. "Every generation since then—the company is now in its fourth generation of family management—has continued that legacy."
Recognizing the need to support patients long after the completion of chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery, the new program will support ongoing collaborations among internists, oncologists, nurses, social workers and researchers, and offer services, such as tailored plans for patients transitioning from active cancer care to primary care; prevention and screening plans; treatment plan summaries and lists of potential late effects of treatment; monitoring of post-treatment symptoms; referral links to ancillary healthcare services; and access to genetic testing, support groups, and counseling.
"Most breast cancer patients experience short- and long-term physical and psychological effects after treatment, including fatigue, neuropathy, and menopausal symptoms," said Dr. Vered Stearns, co-director of the Breast Cancer Program at the Kimmel Cancer Center. "While patients who survive the disease anticipate regaining a sense of normalcy post-treatment, often they find the road to wellness as arduous as the disease itself."
The donation was officially recognized at the Kimmel Cancer Center's Survivors Day celebration on June 1. The annual event welcomes survivors and their friends and family members to celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day and features live music, a fashion show by local clothiers worn by cancer survivors, inspirational speakers, refreshments and child-friendly activities.