OCRA’s Woman to Woman is a unique support program that pairs gynecologic cancer patients with trained survivor volunteers who provide one-on-one emotional support and mentoring to women when they need it most.
From the moment of diagnosis through the end of treatment and beyond, Woman to Woman survivor volunteers have helped hundreds of women and their families cope with gynecologic cancer.
Survivor volunteers meet one-on-one with the patients with whom they are matched to listen, discuss concerns, provide advice and support, and sometimes, just hold a hand. Volunteers are carefully matched to new patients based on cancer type, age, language and culture, patient preferences, as well as other relevant factors. They are professionally trained and supervised by a coordinator who also oversees the program (typically a hospital social worker or nurse practitioner). During their intensive training session, volunteers learn active listening, communication skills, and how to address cultural differences. In addition, they receive an overview of gynecologic cancers and the issues associated with them, and gain an understanding of their own relationship to their illness as they prepare to volunteer. These survivor volunteers give hope, along with the special insights that can only come from someone with their own personal gynecologic cancer experience.
Woman to Woman was founded by ovarian cancer survivor Valerie Goldfein at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in 2004. Recognizing the importance of peer support, Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA) was a long-time supporter of W2W at Mount Sinai, and in 2011 expanded the program nationally as OCRA’s signature support program.
Since then, OCRA has supported the development of over 45 program sites. Today, there are over 30 active Woman to Woman sites. In 2019 OCRA created a national network of OCRA Woman to Woman mentors to ensure all women,regardless of location, could have a W2W mentor.