In conjunction with the intense learning experience to be had at the annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) held in early December, scholarship recipients, as well as other patient advocates in attendance, are provided with an opportunity to interact with leading medical experts during ABCF’s three-day Hot Topics Mentor Sessions held from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM. The panel of experts report on the most intriguing, valuable and/or controversial research presented that day and then take questions from the audience. The Mentor Sessions are the premier event for all advocates who attend SABCS, providing them the opportunity to interact with recognized breast cancer experts in an intimate learning environment. Attendance at these nightly sessions has grown exponentially over the past few years due to the increase in patient advocate attendance at the symposium and to the unique learning environment and access to the leading researchers in breast cancer.
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.
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 and Japan have begun programs in their countries, based on ABCF’s Patient Advocate Program.
Over the past several years, the valuable proceedings from this program have been broadly disseminated as an interactive CD-ROM, white-paper compendiums and live events. The highlights from the Hot Topic Mentor Sessions are featured on a CD-ROM for use by patient advocates in their local communities and for those unable to attend the SABCS. This gives non-attendees the opportunity to hear from the leading experts firsthand! For the past three years, ABCF has provided free copies of the CD-ROM to approximately 10,000 patient advocates worldwide.
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 addition, each evening one of the Hot Topic mentors is interviewed, and this interview is posted on ABCF’s Facebook page, YouTube site and website to enable more advocates to learn what is happening at the symposium.
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.
Alamo Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund (NBCCF) also co-sponsor the Project LEAD Advanced Topics held at the SABCS. This educational program, conducted by NBCCF, helps Project LEAD patient advocate graduates attending SABCS to update their knowledge about basic science and prepare them for the following scientific sessions at the symposium.
ABCF also partners with the American Association of Cancer Researchers (AACR) to present an educational program for all patient advocates who attend the SABCS. A special session is held on the first morning of the symposium to help patient advocates better understand the basic science of breast cancer by holding a mini-science course, Year in Review. It is held on the first morning of the symposium to help patient advocates better understand the new science to be presented at the year’s symposium.