Allegheny Health Network, Glimmer of Hope, Expand Outreach to Younger Breast Cancer Patients

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Pittsburgh-based breast cancer advocacy group Glimmer of Hope is expanding an Allegheny Health Network program that offers integrative medicine and other services to pre-menopausal breast cancer patients.

Shivani Duggal, DO, breast surgeon, Allegheny Health Network

"It's important for breast cancer patients to keep a positive outlook, keep stress at bay and eat nutritious food that will boost their general health and immune system."

Local breast cancer advocacy organization Glimmer of Hope is providing additional funding for an Allegheny Health Network (AHN) program that uses integrative medicine techniques to help younger breast cancer patients cope with the disease and minimize any stressors that may hinder their recovery.

Glimmer of Hope has now provided a total of $85,302 to the Integrated Breast Oncology Pilot for Pre-Menopausal Women, based at AHN’s Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion, allowing more women to take advantage of the program. The pilot aims to help younger women diagnosed with breast cancer with coordinated medical services and integrative medical modalities such as acupuncture, massage therapy and nutrition counseling.

“All of us at Glimmer of Hope have been delighted to hear how patients are benefiting from this program, and how well it addresses the needs of younger women with breast cancer,” Glimmer of Hope founder Diana Napper said. “They face a number of challenges unique to their age group, as they are diagnosed at a time when they may be caring for young children, or busy launching their careers.”

AHN breast surgeon Shivani Duggal, DO, who oversees the program along with gastroenterologist Sandra El-Hachem, MD, and breast surgeon Mary Beth Malay, MD, said the doctors have received very positive feedback from the 10 patients involved in the initial pilot.

“Our patients say the program has been extremely beneficial, helping them reduce pain, discomfort and stress,” Dr. Duggal said. “Patients particularly enjoy the massage therapy and nutrition counseling, and those who participated in acupuncture said it was very helpful in reducing the aftereffects of chemotherapy and surgery, such as pain and nausea.”

“The expansion is also important because, unfortunately, we are seeing an increasing number of premenopausal women with advanced breast cancer, Dr. Duggal said. “As their numbers continue to rise, so will the need for the program.”

In addition to integrative medicine services, patients can take advantage of free child care at Austin’s Playroom at the Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion, and if necessary, transportation to appointments via the Glimmer of Hope van or the Uber driver service.

The pilot is open to pre-menopausal breast cancer patients who are being treated at Allegheny Health Network and are referred by their physician.

Rooms at the Wexford Health + Wellness Pavilion have been renovated to create a tranquil spa-like private suite with treatment rooms, a waiting area and reception area. It is open to any breast cancer patient for treatment on a fee-for-service basis.

“It’s important for breast cancer patients to keep a positive outlook, keep stress at bay, and eat nutritious foods that will boost their general health and immune system,” Dr. Duggal said. “We are grateful to Glimmer of Hope for making it possible for additional patients to enjoy the benefits of this great program.”

Funding for the program is provided by Pittsburgh Pirates Pitch for Hope, an event that lets women learn baseball fundamentals from Pirates’ coaches, and donations from rue21, The Pittsburgh Pirates, Pirates Charities, AHN, Highmark, Diehl Automotive Group, The Dimond Family, Cris, Ralene and Wyatt DeBord; Moe’s Southwest Grill Pittsburgh, Chick-Fil-A Pittsburgh, Chelsea Collective, Oxford Athletic Club and the Zumba Team of Oxford Athletic Club, North Allegheny High School, CBS Radio, Walnut Grill and Schultheis Brothers.

About A Glimmer of Hope
In 1996 A Glimmer of Hope organization’s founder Diana Napper designed the first Glimmer of Hope pin and began selling them with the proceeds going to breast cancer research. Since that time, the organization has raised over $3 million for breast cancer research.

About Allegheny Health Network
Allegheny Health Network is a western Pennsylvania-based integrated healthcare system that serves patients from across a five state region that includes Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The Network’s Cancer Institute offers a complete spectrum of oncology care, including access to state-of-the-art technologies and new therapies being explored in clinical cancer trials. The Network’s radiation oncology program is the largest in the country and accredited by the American College of Radiology. AHN also has a formal affiliation with the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, one of the nation’s 41 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute, for research, medical education and clinical services.
To schedule an appointment with an AHN oncologist, please call 412.DOCTORS or visit http://www.ahn.org/find-a-doctor.

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Stephanie Waite