Woman to Woman
Women diagnosed with gynecologic cancer may experience many emotions - such as fear, anger, shame, guilt, or hopelessness. No one can understand these feelings better than a woman who has had a similar cancer diagnosis. Women in treatment for gynecologic cancer at The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai Chelsea in New York City are offered the Woman to Woman program, a network of volunteer survivors of gynecologic cancer, who are specially trained to provide one-to-one support, mentoring, education, and hope to women currently in treatment. The Woman to Woman survivor volunteers empower patients to advocate for themselves, provide hope through example, and offer emotional support.
How We Started Out
Much like the Chinese proverb that says, “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back,” Woman to Woman is founded on the belief that cancer survivors can be a unique source of comfort, encouragement and information to women who have just been diagnosed.
The program was conceived in 2003 by Valerie Goldfein, an ovarian cancer survivor. As a patient, she had felt scared and alone and wanted to connect with someone who had survived the disease, could understand what she was going through, and could provide her with encouragement. After she completed treatment and went into remission, Valerie worked with her Mount Sinai gynecologic oncologist, Peter Dottino, MD, as well as the Mount Sinai Department of Social Work Services, Mount Sinai's Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Science, and The Auxiliary Board at Mount Sinai to launch Woman to Woman.
Since 2003, the Woman to Woman program has provided help to thousands of patients and their family members, some of whom have been inspired to share their stories in the media. The Mount Sinai Woman to Woman model has been replicated in multiple sites across America with funding and help from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance, the largest global charitable organization dedicated to advancing ovarian cancer research while supporting women and their families.
How We Help
Woman to Woman carefully matches a survivor volunteer with a woman who is currently in treatment for cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal, or vulvar cancer. Our specially-trained volunteers share their cancer stories with the women they are helping, fostering a personal relationship that grows to include open discussion, emotional support, and mentoring on everything from helpful resources to ways of becoming an effective self-advocate. Our volunteer survivors speak with patients during hospitalization, while they are receiving chemotherapy, and through phone or email.
Managed by an experienced social worker, our program collaborates with Mount Sinai’s team of healthcare professionals to offer patients a wide range of services, including:
- Peer-to-peer support
- Therapeutic conversations
- Methods of anxiety and stress reduction
- Guidance on available resources and health system practices
- Financial assistance
- Encouragement of self-advocacy
Woman to Woman also offers one-to-one emotional support and mentoring for the families and partners who are affected by their loved ones’ diagnosis and treatment.
Most importantly, our program is here to ensure that all women diagnosed with gynecologic cancer and their families are supported throughout this unfamiliar and difficult journey.
How to Support Woman to Woman
The number of women being treated for gynecologic cancer at Mount Sinai has never been higher, and our program is committed to making sure no woman has to face gynecologic cancer alone. Therefore, ensuring the continuation and expansion of the Woman to Woman program is increasingly vital. Here’s how to help:
- Donate: Donations in any form are a wonderful way to keep Woman to Woman’s mission alive. Monetary contributions are greatly appreciated, and we also are thrilled to accept donations of items for our “comfort bags,” the “Comfort Cart,” and goody bags for reunions of volunteers and the survivors they help. In addition, please contact us if you know of a company that would like to offer appropriate items or if you are willing to reach out to organizations for items on behalf of the Woman to Woman program.
- Volunteer: If you possess a special skill or interest that you are willing to offer to our program, we want to hear from you! Such skills include an aptitude in artistry, exercise instruction, athletic training, or musicianship. We would love to find a way for you to share your talents through Woman to Woman.
- Educate: Learn about gynecologic cancer symptoms and make sure to spread the word to all of the women in your life.