Cancer Support Groups


In low resource environments, physicians are overly burdened, particularly oncologists and there exists an enormous health literacy gap between patients and their doctors. As a result, patients require extensive instruction and education about their illness. Often, this is overlooked and patients are left uneducated, frightened and confused about their treatment and future. We look to address these issues by introducing clinician led cancer support groups in the hospital setting.


‣ To provide a place for people to share common concerns on cancer and well-being with trained medical professionals.
‣ To educate patients and caregivers about cancer related topics such as treatments, side effects, exercise and nutrition, relationships and life after cancer.
‣ To provide emotional support and help reduce anxiety for patients and their families.
‣ To give patients a place to voice their concerns and receive information specific to their disease and treatment.


‣ Empowered and informed patients.
‣ Increased cancer awareness among patients, families and caregivers.


Peer to Peer Support Program – “Stronger Together”


To train cancer survivor-volunteers to fill gaps in professional support services and assist cancer patients navigate their treatment, improve quality of life, decrease depression, distress and anxiety, increase treatment adherence, improve patient outcomes, increase cancer awareness for patients and their families as well as reduce the burden on the overtaxed hospital staff.

Our multidisciplinary team has adapted and implemented a program based on an existing, successful peer-peer cancer support program, Woman 2 Woman, designed to assist gynecologic cancer patients at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Our team is comprised of; US and Vietnamese; social workers, oncology psychologists, public health experts, doctors, patient advocates and current breast cancer patients. The training is delivered on-site and remotely via lectures, workshops, role play, tool kit and web based resources, and incorporate a train the trainer module for local sustainability. The program is running at three oncology hospitals in Vietnam with expansion in 2018.

The program includes sessions and activities focused around:
‣Peer Support
‣Patient Navigation
‣Distress Screening and Referral

‣Inform patients and caregivers about cancer related topics such as what to expect from treatments, side effects, exercise/nutrition, relationships, and life after cancer
‣Decrease patient anxiety and depression
‣Increase adherence to treatment
‣Provide emotional support and help reduce stress for patients and their families
‣Building a sense of community among the cancer survivor population
‣Give patients a place to voice their concerns and receive information specific to their disease and treatment

‣Improved quality of life for cancer patients
‣Reduction in patient distress
‣Increased treatment adherence
‣Improved patient outcomes
‣Increase in cancer awareness among patients and caregivers
‣Reduced burden on hospital staff
‣Increased sense of community and purpose for cancer survivor mentor volunteers

Cancer Information/Navigation Program “Cancer Navigator”


In many lower-resource environments, healthcare providers, especially oncologists, are often in short supply, and there exists an enormous health literacy gap between patients and healthcare providers. As a result, cancer patients who typically need extensive instruction and education about their illness are often left uninformed, frightened and confused about their treatment and future. Research indicates that providing cancer patients with effective educational resources and supportive services can reduce patient distress and empower patients to participate in critical decisions regarding their cancer treatment.

“Cancer Navigator” is a project aimed at helping cancer patients and their caregivers successfully navigate the cancer journey by providing them with culturally- and resource- appropriate information about cancer and supportive services. The project will be piloted beginning in 2018 in Vietnam and Colombia, with hopes to expand the project to Zambia, Cambodia and Mexico starting in 2019.

GFC is developing and launching a pilot program in 2018, at three oncology hospitals in Vietnam and five sites in Colombia. The program is comprised of two main components:
(1) a video-based Cancer Basics information package
(2) a local resource guide/map.

The Cancer Basics information package comprises of a series of short infographic and personal narrative videos that provide culturally-sensitive, resource-appropriate information about cancer and cancer treatment, including but not limited to: basic information about certain types of cancer prevalent to local population, risk factors, treatment options, possible side effects of treatment, and supportive care considerations including advice on hygiene, nutrition and diet. These videos will be shown to patients and caregivers at the initial point of care, as they seek treatment in hospitals or clinics. The videos will be delivered via TV/video monitors and/or tablets/kiosks located in key areas of the hospital, and will also be included on hospital webpage and social media sites, as well as a YouTube channel specific to the project.

Patients and their families are often required to travel great distances to unfamiliar cities in order to access cancer care. The resource guide aims to alleviate some of this burden by working with hospital staff to map and provide information on local resources on affordable lodging, food and transportation services. The resource guide will be provided in printed format, and will be incorporated into local social media and web-based resources (e.g., cancer patient support groups on Facebook, local hospital, university, or government websites).

‣Increase patients’ and caregivers’ knowledge of cancer and treatment.
‣Improve patient’s and caregiver’s satisfaction with quality of care.
‣Improve patients’ treatment compliance.
‣Reduce patients’ and caregivers’ levels of distress.
‣Reduce hospital staff’s burden.

We will monitor the progress of the project through quarterly conference/skype calls with stakeholders and via site visits conducted on a semi-annual basis. Additionally, at the conclusion of the project, we will convene stakeholders and representatives of project beneficiaries to solicit their feedback on the implementation and effectiveness of the project. Both the patient-level impact and the process-oriented issues will be included in the final project report. Results of project will also be presented at professional conferences such as the World Cancer Congress and published in relevant academic journals.

A Consultant will work in conjunction with the GFC Advisory Board to conduct the monitoring and evaluation activities. Together, they are comprised of oncology and public health experts from institutions such as Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, NYU College of Global Public Health, Mt Sinai Hospital School of Social Work, University of Washington Global Health, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, PATH, ASCO, WHO, NCI and the UICC.


Cancer Awareness Program


To increase awareness of cancer prevention and detection methods in low resource environments through an evidence-based, locally-adaptable cancer awareness program delivered directly to factory workers in the work environment. One-third of cancers are preventable by addressing lifestyle risk factors, and early detection is key for successful and lower cost treatment. Globally, 50% of cancer in LMICs occurs under the age of 65, leading to an avoidable loss of productive life years. Education and access to screening and diagnostic services are vital.


‣ Provide workers with a solid foundation in basic cancer facts.
‣ Introduce ways to avoid or lower the risks of developing cancer.
‣ Debunk myths and reduce stigma associated with cancer.
‣ Encourage early detection and treatment of cancers.
‣ Reduce the overall burden of cancer.
‣ Increase survivorship.


A multi-disciplinary partnership with US corporations and their local affiliates, international and local cancer control experts, local health NGO’s and public sector facilities. Components include training and capacity building for factory workers, and the development of a resource center within the factory health center that will provide information about specific cancers, screening and locally available and affordable treatment options. We will also train a select select group of workers to act as ambassadors and peer educators.

Flip book style presentations provide basic, useful information about cancer prevention, early detection and treatment. This presentation is delivered by health care professionals in the factory setting. GFC partners with local health NGO’s to implement the program.

The program includes information on:
‣ Causes of cancer.
‣ Common types of cancer.
‣ General risk factors.
‣ Truths and myths about cancer.
‣ Cancer prevention and early detection methods.
‣ Cancer statistics specific to the target country.
‣ Nutrition and exercise information.
‣ Survivor stories/photos – humanizing the cancer experience.

We administer pre- and post-testing to a random sampling of employees participating in the seminar in an effort to measure knowledge change. We also gather data on attempts from the factory workers to access cancer prevention and screening services available through the factory cancer ambassadors.


‣ Reduction in cancer burden and loss of productive life years.
‣ Increase in health promoting behaviors, cancer risk reduction and promotion of early detection and treatment methods through primary prevention and disease education.


‣ Factory workers will have a solid foundation of basic cancer facts
‣ There will be a decrease is stigma and myths surrounding cancer among the target population
‣ Workers will be encouraged to access early detection and treatment services
‣ Empowered and informed employees
‣ Workers feel emotionally supported
‣ Increase in cancer awareness for workers and their families
‣ Increase in adapted healthier lifestyle choices lead to reduced absenteeism and overall healthier employees