Safeway Foundation funds new peer navigator program for breast-cancer patients

UC Davis to be regional leader for recruiting and training "cancer coaches"

women showing support for each other
Peer navigators — all cancer survivors themselves — will serve as "cancer coaches" in providing one-to-one guidance and support to newly diagnosed patients.

The first few months after diagnosis can be one of the most traumatic periods in a cancer survivor's life. To help breast-cancer patients during this difficult time, UC Davis Cancer Center is pleased to announce it has received $128,000 from the Safeway Foundation to create the WeCARE Community-Based Breast Cancer Peer Navigator Project.

Peer navigators — all cancer survivors themselves — will serve as "cancer coaches" in providing one-to-one guidance and support to newly diagnosed patients. UC Davis will recruit, screen and train navigators who will then be teamed with patients receiving treatment at hospitals throughout the region.

Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, UC Davis assistant adjunct professor and principal investigator for the Safeway Foundation grant, was inspired to create the new program because breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women. She also noticed that the needs of these patients are unique.

"Women with breast cancer tend to struggle quite a bit because of the emotions, body consciousness and multiple decisions involved with the diagnosis," von Friederichs-Fitzwater said. "We also observed that many of them were coming to treatments alone and not accessing available resources as much as they could."

As a cancer survivor herself, von Friederichs-Fitzwater understands why the first months after diagnosis can be so isolating.

Marlene vonFriederich Fitzwater"Patients who are new to cancer are especially vulnerable and often overwhelmed with unsolicited advice. It is definitely a confusing time, making it tough to engage family and friends or ask for qualified help."
—Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, grant principal investigator

"Patients who are new to cancer are especially vulnerable and often overwhelmed with unsolicited advice," she said. "It is definitely a confusing time, making it tough to engage family and friends or ask for qualified help. The Safeway Foundation has given us a tremendous opportunity to give these women a reliable, connected and professional source of support that can significantly reduce their anxiety, uncertainty and fear."

For the new program, UC Davis will train breast-cancer survivors and match them with new breast-cancer patients in accordance with age and cultural factors. Targeted recruitments are planned among African-American churches, Native American communities and other underserved populations. Navigators will also be specifically sought in Marysville, Merced, Pleasanton and Truckee to work with patients in those communities' cancer centers, which are linked through the UC Davis Cancer Care Network. The network, launched by UC Davis in October of this year, unites hospital-based cancer centers throughout Northern and Central California that are dedicated to providing quality cancer care in community settings.

Navigators will be available as needed for patients for three to six months following diagnosis and will provide accurate information on breast cancer, treatment options, symptom management, support groups and community services. They will also offer psychosocial support and, if desired, accompany patients to doctor visits and treatments.

UC Davis Cancer Center Director Ralph deVere White thinks the program is a valuable addition to the center's top-notch research program.

"As we get better and better at understanding the science of cancer, we simply cannot forget that the emotions of cancer are just as important," he said. "This generous funding will help us treat the disease in its entirety and expand the support services offered to patients throughout the region. We are very pleased and grateful that Safeway is committed to helping women with cancer and to establishing this new and vital partnership with UC Davis."

Safeway considers breast cancer to be the largest women's health issue of our time and the Safeway Foundation is determined to make a difference. During the month of October, the company's Breast Cancer Research and Awareness campaign raised more than $18.6 million for breast cancer research and prevention programs.

Funding announcement event
Safeway has provided new funding to UC Davis for a breast-cancer focused peer navigator program. From left to right at the celebration event are: Kara Noe, government and public affairs manager, Safeway: Karl Schroeder president, Northern California Division, Safeway; Espe Greenwood, director of public affairs and government relations, Safeway; Rick Pickering, vice president, Northern California Division, Safeway; Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater, director, Outreach Research and Education Program, UC Davis Cancer Center; John Cain, district manager, Safeway; Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor of human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, UC Davis; Ralph deVere White, director, UC Davis Cancer Center; and Jeanine Stiles, associate director for administration, UC Davis Cancer Center.

"Safeway's month-long campaign is dedicated to raising funds to further breast-cancer research, raise awareness and help breast-cancer patients find the best resources available to address their specific needs," said Karl Schroeder, president of Safeway Northern California Division. "UC Davis Cancer Center has identified a need in the community and, thanks to the customers and employees at Safeway, we can work together and provide funding for a unique community-based breast cancer peer navigator program."

Breast-cancer survivors who completed treatments at least two years ago can apply to the new peer navigator program beginning in January 2009. Those interested in participating can call the cancer center's Outreach Research and Education Program office at (916) 734-0823 for more information.

About UC Davis Cancer Center
Designated by the National Cancer Institute, UC Davis Cancer Center cares for 9,000 adults and children each year from throughout the Central Valley and inland Northern California. The center is the region's only comprehensive, integrated cancer program, providing both basic and advanced cancer care. Its research program links cancer physicians and scientists throughout UC Davis and at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory with the unified goal of speeding progress on early detection, reducing overall incidence, enhancing patient quality of life, improving survival rates and making discoveries that will one day cure cancer. For more information, visit

About Safeway
Safeway Inc. (NYSE: SWY) is a Fortune 100 company and one of the largest food and drug retailers in North America, operating 1,738 stores in the United States and western Canada. The company supports a broad range of charitable and community programs, including cancer research, education, food banks and programs focused on assisting people with disabilities. Safeway is also committed to environmental responsibility and has implemented leading-edge energy-saving strategies throughout its operations. Additional information about the company and its programs can be found at