2022 Survivor Circle Grants awarded Sunday

By Jennifer Jang, ASTRO Communications

Survivor Circle was created in 2003 to honor cancer survivors by recognizing organizations that further the fight for survivorship. ASTRO has raised well over $400,000 since the inception of the program, almost wholly from the generous support of our exhibitors, 100% of which has gone to grant recipients. Each year, ASTRO awards two grants of $10,000 to support organizations located in the state that hosts the Annual Meeting.

Yesterday morning, ASTRO awarded this year’s recipients, Breast Cancer Resource Center and ThriveWell Cancer Foundation, with Survivor Circle Grants for the services they provide to cancer patients, their families and caregivers. ASTRO followed up with both organizations to learn more about how they plan to use the grant funding this coming year.

Breast Cancer Resource Center

BCRC Receiving Award
Breast Cancer Resource Center Sharyn Malatok, MPA, Chief Program Officer

Founded in 1995, Breast Cancer Resource Center (BCRC) is an Austin-based organization whose mission is to empower those affected by breast cancer with personalized support and compassion. With over a dozen staff, BCRC does this by equipping clients with education, information and guidance to be active and knowledgeable participants in their own health care.

BCRC is specifically using the Survivor Circle Grant to support BCRC’s Patient Navigation services, their signature program for people diagnosed with breast cancer and a core part of their services for over 27 years. Patient Navigators are community health workers, certified navigators and breast cancer survivors. They provide individualized support for each client based on their needs. When someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, a myriad of emotions and questions emerge, and having someone they can turn to who is with them throughout their initial diagnosis, treatment and into survivorship is invaluable.

One of BCRC’s clients, Lauren, captures their contribution well, sharing: “My patient navigator was there when I needed someone to answer all my questions. I felt so alone, so worried, and she spent time and attention to get me past my fears and into battle mode... I will never forget her unwavering support, her incredible empathy, and her timely and complete immersion in my care -treating me as if I was the only person that mattered.”

In 2021, BCRC served more than 1,300 central Texans diagnosed with breast cancer and their families with over 6,000 patient navigation hours.

In addition, BCRC provides forums and monthly support groups where breast cancer survivors can turn to their peers for a community of support. BCRC fosters healthy lifestyles, and provides transportation, housekeeping and even pet-sitting assistance while a client is in treatment. They also offer limited emergency financial assistance and provide a video resource library and educational forums for medical professionals and their patients. Through these various means, BCRC enables their clients to replace fear, anxiety and doubt with information, options and hope.

Learn more about Breast Cancer Resource Center.

ThriveWell Cancer Foundation

BCRC Receiving Award
Erin Ercoline
Executive Director
ThriveWell Cancer Foundation

Based in San Antonio, ThriveWell Cancer Foundation has supported their patient base since 2007. ThriveWell might sound familiar, as the organization was also a winner of the grant in 2015. The foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for cancer by funding research, providing patient support and offering programs to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. Currently they focus on three different areas to help those dealing with cancer in San Antonio and surrounding areas. Specifically, the Patient Assistance Program is focused on providing transportation, lodging and financial assistance to cancer patients. They fund cutting-edge research taking place in San Antonio. Finally, the Foundation provides free exercise, nutrition and wellness classes to patients and survivors through their Diva&Dude Program.

Regarding the Survivor Circle grant, ThriveWell plans to channel it toward radiation co-pay expenses for low-income patients, transportation and lodging. Although numbering a staff of four, ThriveWell has had a huge impact on the San Antonio community. During the pandemic, they were and continue to be the only organization providing tangible support to local cancer patients. And in 2021 alone, they provided assistance to over 1,300 patients. They work directly with every oncology practice and hospital in the area, including the VA system, to provide the support that any cancer patient needs regardless of type of cancer or location of treatment.

Erin Ercoline, Executive Director, shared: “ThriveWell Cancer Foundation is THRILLED to be receiving the ASTRO Survivor Circle funding award. The support will allow us to provide much needed assistance to San Antonio cancer patients... In supporting our mission, ASTRO is helping cancer patients survive and THRIVE!”

Both the Breast Cancer Resource Center and ThriveWell Cancer Foundation will certainly use their funds to multiply their impact, and upcoming ASTRO publications will provide updates on these grants’ impacts on the two organizations initiatives.

Learn more about ThriveWell Cancer Foundation.

Published October 24, 2022

American Society for Radiation Oncology
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Arlington, VA 22202
Telephone: 703-502-1550


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