The Indiana University School of Medicine has announced a $14 million gift from the Walther Cancer Foundation in Indianapolis to help patients and their families manage the symptoms, pain, and stress of cancer.
The gift will create the Walther Supportive Oncology Program, with the aim of going beyond surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to care for a patient's overall physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. To that end, the program will provide support from the point of diagnosis to survivorship, including management of pain and other symptoms; psychological and psychiatric services for depression and anxiety; spiritual care; assistance in navigating financial concerns, transportation issues, and at-home support; nutrition assistance, smoking cessation, and other behavior-modification programs; and communication of patients' values and preferences. To be developed in partnership with Indiana University Health, the program also will share expertise and best practices with other health systems, with a focus on underserved communities.
In addition, the gift will establish five endowed faculty positions, enabling the school to hire a leader in the field of supportive oncology to direct the program; a senior leader in psychiatry or psychology focused on individuals with cancer; and at least three faculty experts in related disciplines.
"The Walther Cancer Foundation is pleased to have this unique opportunity to build a comprehensive supportive oncology program in partnership with IU Simon Cancer Center and IU Health," said Thomas W. Grein, president and CEO of the foundation. "We are committed to developing a program that offers a broad range of services to meet the needs of cancer patients and their families."
"Just as we are continuing to advance cancer treatments by personalizing therapies, we must reimagine the way care is delivered so we are able to tailor support services for each patient and family," said Jay L. Hess, IU's vice president for university clinical affairs and dean of the IU School of Medicine. "We will bring to bear existing resources, recruit some of the best minds in the field, and make this vision a reality for cancer patients."