This week marks the culmination of an amazing journey and the beginning of something great at UCF. On Wednesday we announced the launch of our Adolescent & Young Adult Patient Navigation Program at Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer – the fourth center in the Region we’re now offering patient navigation services to young adults recently diagnosed with cancer. Our Navigator Allie Gubin has been seeing patients for several weeks now. Although the “official launch” and announcement of this program was on Wednesday, the pathway to this partnership began many many miles (literally) ago.
Before I dive into this fairytale story, I want to share why we are so excited about the launch of this program. UCF has been offering direct patient navigation services out of our offices since the organization was founded by the Ulman Family in 1997. In 2007, we decided to be one of the first young adult cancer support organization in the country to take our services to where patients are – in cancer centers. Since 2007, we’ve been running a young adult navigation program in partnership with the University of Maryland Marlene & Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center. The launch of Hopkins marks our 4th program of this nature where we’re helping cancer patients and families on the front lines in partnership with medical professionals and major medical institutions.
Our “Top Ten List” (in no particular order) of why our recent partnership with Hopkins is so great!
- We gained a new rock star team member in Allie Gubin that will be working with young adults on daily basis out of the Pediatric Oncology Department
- This program was funded by the efforts of 94 college students that did the 4K last year. They rode their bikes over 4,000 miles cross country to bring this service to the young adults of Baltimore. Powerful stuff!
- Hopkins sees the largest # of young adult cancer patients in Maryland – and one of the largest #’s in the country.
- Huge accomplishment to have the #1 hospital and #3 cancer center in the country recognize this young adult population and our work
- Fourteen years ago when UCF was started, no cancer centers had programs specific to young adults – now 3 cancer centers in Baltimore and one in Washington, DC do
- Adding Hopkins as a location of Navigation centers we’re partnering with strengthens our ability to offer a “community” of support programs for young adults in Baltimore and this Region
- We will have a presence in the new Children’s Center Hopkins built which is downright amazing!
- We can see Hopkins Children’s Center from our Baltimore Office and vice versa – pretty cool to see the dollars you help us raise go directly to work to help cancer patients and families in our community.
- We can run from our Baltimore Office to the steps of Hopkins within 30 minutes – how about that for partnering with organizations in our community.
- We will be able to help more young adults in a meaningful way – working towards our Navigation Program mission that no young adult will have to face cancer alone and our Navigation Vision to have AYA Programs in Cancer Centers in every major city in the US!
Back to my fairytale story…
Once upon a time (On May 26, 2011 to be specific), a journey began for 94 college students participating in the 4K for Cancer. They dipped the rear wheels of their bikes into the Baltimore Inner Harbor and headed off on a cross-country bike ride. The young men and women were divided into three groups – one headed to Portland, one to Seattle, one to San Francisco – that would spend the next 70 days sharing stories, raising money and uniting communities. The purpose of this ride was to inspire hope in communities across the country and to raise awareness for a cancer support program back in Baltimore they had raised money to help start. Before they got on their bikes, the riders handed me a check for $100,000 and said we would like this to help start a program that will help a lot of people.
This program was (and now is) our Adolescent & Young Adult Patient Navigation Program at Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. Less than a year from the beginning of this ride, these riders goal has become a reality. On Wednesday, February 29, 2012, the UCF announced the opening of our 4th Young Adult Navigation Program at a major cancer center in the US. 4K for Cancer is now a program of the UCF and another 94 college students are signed up to take on the same life-changing journey this May. What will be the next cancer center we partner with to change lives – only time will tell.