Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation (ABCF) established the Patient Advocate Program, a component of the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS).
Why Patient Advocates are Necessary
Educated patient advocates provide a unique perspective which cannot be contributed by others. They are the ones who ultimately receive health care services and, along with their families, are required to engage and navigate the complexities of the health insurance system. They have no agenda in the scientific community other than looking for the best science; they have no conflict of interest. Their perspective cannot be duplicated by the doctors who care for them or the scientists who search for answers, even if these doctors and scientists too are patients. A lay advocate perspective is key to moving forward to the end of breast cancer.
The SABCS will take place December 6-10, 2016, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. By attending this conference, patient advocates learn about the most recent breast cancer research so they can disseminate the information to their local organizations. ABCF is privileged to be associated with the SABCS, the largest single cancer conference in the world.
Patient Advocate Program at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium
Each scholarship advocate is assigned a topic to immerse themselves in during the course of the conference and then is responsible for reporting research updates, which are included in an interactive program produced by the ABCF. The advocates are also encouraged to network with other advocates, doctors and pharmaceutical companies to share information and learn from one another.
Over the past several years, the valuable proceedings from this program have been broadly disseminated via our website, where the Mentor Sessions videos and the White Papers written by the scholarship advocates can be accessed.
We ask each of the scholarship advocates to present the information they learned at the SABCS at one of their organization’s meetings and/or write an article for the organization’s newsletter. We find this is an excellent way for the scholarship advocates to disseminate the information.
ABCF also relates each day’s information from SABCS on a blog and “tweets” the breaking information.
In May of each year, our advocacy scholarship application is posted on the ABCF website. The requirements to qualify for a scholarship are also posted at that time along with the amount of the scholarships.
Background Information on the Patient Advocate Program at SABCS
The program was originally conceived when Drs. Charles Coltman and Kent Osborne observed the increasing number of patient advocates attending the SABCS to better understand the data affecting their advocacy efforts. In 1996, Drs. Coltman and Osborne approached ABCF with the idea of a collaborative patient advocate program to be held annually in early December in conjunction with the SABCS. From their embryonic idea, the Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation’s Patient Advocate Program was born.
Since 1997, ABCF has invited representatives from breast cancer patient advocacy organizations from around the world to apply for scholarships (provided they meet specific criteria) in order to attend the early December SABCS conference. To date there have been over 700 applicants, and ABCF has provided scholarships to 514 patient advocates.
Historically, the feedback on the Patient Advocate Program has been outstanding. In 2006 the National Breast Cancer Coalition awarded the program the Best Practices in Breast Cancer Advocacy Award for outstanding achievement and collaborative success. ABCF is very proud of this recognition and hopes to continue this level of impact on the advocacy community in the years to come. In addition, it is an honor that organizations in Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan, and Denmark have begun programs in their countries, based on ABCF’s Patient Advocate Program.
In addition, the Symposium is an opportunity for National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) LEADS Grads to further their scientific education and research involvement after the formal Project LEAD® trainings are completed.