What is NBCF doing to help those affected by breast cancer during the pandemic?
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, breast cancer patients are still facing their breast cancer journey and are more vulnerable than ever. That’s why National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) will be focused on being a voice for them in the coming weeks and months. Whether navigating changes in our healthcare systems or addressing the challenges in an uncertain economy, breast cancer patients and their families need our help now.
For the most up-to-date COVID-19 information pertaining to cancer patients, please visit: https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/common-questions-about-the-new-coronavirus-outbreak.html
NBCF is supporting patient and nurse navigators in hospitals across the country. NBCF navigators are on the frontlines of helping breast cancer patients recently diagnosed or currently undergoing treatment.
Treatment for breast cancer – radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapies – may weaken the immune system. When the immune system is compromised, there is a greater risk for serious complications from viruses like COVID-19.
That’s why our navigators are so important right now because they act as a liaison between the doctors and patients and are trained to eliminate any barriers that may prevent a patient from accessing quality treatment.
These are some of the barriers our navigators are currently facing:
- Navigating patients to and from treatment without being exposed to other people or patients who may be infected with COVID-19
- Easing financial concerns for patients who’ve recently lost income as a result of business closings
- Addressing the emotions and concerns of patients who already feel isolated
- Teaching caregivers safest way to interact with patients undergoing treatment
Patient Support & Education
NBCF is offering virtual support groups and meetings to patients and facilitators to help:
- Connect patients with other patients who are quarantined or isolated
- Share the latest recommendations from the healthcare community
- Give patients a safe and reliable space to learn best practices for managing their own care
NBCF is providing online education and resources for recently diagnosed patients and those currently undergoing treatment. We are working with our hospital partners and leading healthcare organizations to help provide the best and most accurate information about how COVID-19 impacts breast cancer patients. This includes information like:
- Temporary changes to screening protocols
- How to stay healthy while keeping vital diagnostic and treatment appointments
- Best practices for immunocompromised patients
NBCF is training Community Ambassadors on ways to connect and interact with their communities virtually.
NBCF’s COVID-19 Relief Fund
NBCF has created the COVID-19 Relief Fund to support the patients who are most challenged during this time. We have decided to reallocate $50,000 from our outreach budget and direct the funds toward life-saving patient navigation services and support for our hospital partners on the front lines of treating breast cancer patients during this pandemic. Our ongoing support and funding is needed to ensure the most vulnerable patients have a voice and access to care.
NBCF’s COVID-19 relief funding will be distributed through our network of hospitals partners and patient navigators. If you or someone you know needs help, please visit our website to see if we partner with a facility in your area.
How is the pandemic complicating NBCF’s work?
NBCF has closed our offices and will operate remotely until further notice. We are prioritizing the health of our supporters, staff, volunteers, and especially patients and survivors during this unprecedented outbreak.
Per the CDC’s 3/16/20 update to the Guidance Highlights for Events and Mass Gatherings, during the next 15 days, all U.S. events of 10+ people should be cancelled or held virtually.
These updates significantly complicate our ability to do our work. Here are a few of the programs and events most impacted:
We depend on volunteers and staff to pack and ship HOPE Kits. As a result, we are unable to pack and ship HOPE Kits until further notice. We remain committed to sharing updates as they’re available.
There is still a great need for HOPE Kit supplies, and we feel confident that we can use this time to stockpile these needed resources for the future. Once the pandemic subsides, we believe that there will be a great need to pack and deliver HOPE Kits to encourage the thousands of breast cancer patients that have been isolated and need a tangible expression of hope.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Retreats
Metastatic breast cancer is cancer that began in the breast and spread to other parts of the body essential for life – lungs, brain, liver, or bones. Metastatic breast cancer patients have an increased risk of infections and complications.
To protect these patients, we must cancel or postpone our metastatic retreats until further notice.
However, we are looking at ways to offer these vital services to patients via virtual webinars and meetings. We are also working with our hospital partners to learn how to best address the changing needs of metastatic patients who are isolated or quarantined as well as their caregivers.
Fundraising and Awareness Events
The pandemic has hampered our ability to host fundraising and awareness events. We need funds now more than ever because the work we do supports patients at risk of infections and complications. Without the ability to raise funds through our fundraising events, many of our vital and life-saving programs will be affected.
How can I help?
Here are some of the most impactful things you can do right now to help us continue our mission:
- Donate toward NBCF’s COVID-19 Relief Fund to help us continue to provide patient navigation, education, and support to women impacted by breast cancer during this difficult time
- Purchase items from our Amazon Wish List needed to fulfill HOPE Kits for women undergoing treatment that are currently on our waitlist
- Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up to date with how you can support patients in need through NBCF