FBCF Grant to Provide Medical Items for UF Breast Cancer Patients and Survivors

Breast Cancer Awareness A research team led by UF Radiation Oncology Professor and Chair Paul Okunieff, MD has received a $14,931 grant from the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation (FBCF) to provide medical items to breast cancer patients and survivors. Second Year Radiation Oncology Resident Anthony Casper, DO and Research Administration Manager Kari Bastow made significant contributions to the successful funding of the proposal.

Women with advanced-stage breast cancer often require mastectomy and/or chemotherapy, making them more likely to need wigs, prostheses, bras, and lymphedema sleeves; however, approximately 43% of UF Radiation Oncology breast cancer patients live in an area of high socioeconomic vulnerability, or SEV.

SEV, as defined by the CDC, refers to regions with worse measures of poverty, unemployment, income, and education as compared to areas of low vulnerability. Many of these patients live paycheck to paycheck and find it financially unfeasible to access the necessary materials after treatment is finished.

“A considerable number of our patients do not meet the medical criteria for reconstructive surgery and, therefore, rely on breast prostheses and mastectomy bras, which are prohibitively expensive for many,” said Dr. Okunieff. “Furthermore, the extensive surgery that many patients undergo for their treatment leaves them grappling with lymphedema. Unfortunately, many are unable to afford lymphedema sleeves, adding to the financial burdens they face.”

The absence of access to these critical resources takes a toll on patient self-image and can severely restrict desire for social interaction, compounding the already formidable challenges these women confront.

“We are so grateful to the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation for this grant, which will improve the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of our patients during their difficult journey through survivorship,” Dr. Okunieff remarked.

The Florida Breast Cancer Foundation (FBCF), founded by three Miami women in 1993, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending breast cancer through research, education, and advocacy. For more information, visit the FBCF website.


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