The inaugural IU Health Philanthropy Gala was a gorgeous event to benefit a worthy cause. I was lucky enough to attend the event held at the Lucas Oil Estate. Fabulous items and experiences were available through the silent auction, while delicious food stations, luxurious lounge seating, and the music of Groove Essential set the mood. I was lucky enough to sink into the supple leather seats for a few minutes and speak with Dr. Patricia Rae Kennedy, the Medical Director of the Breast Care Program and honorary chair of the gala, about what all glitz and glamour was really for.
Q: What does the Breast Care Program currently do?
Kennedy: We have a multi-disciplinary program. Starting in radiology, we have nurse navigation to help patients navigate the system, breast surgeons, medical oncologists, and radiation oncologist who see patients at North. We work very closely with plastic surgeons, and we have a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor. We also have nurse practitioners who work with survivorship, so we’re really trying to take care of the whole patient.
Q: What will the funds IU Health North is raising tonight be used for?
Kennedy: What we’re planning on using the money for is to extend that program even more and create a wellness center for oncology patients. It’s really interesting, and evidence based, that exercise can help patients receiving treatment have fewer side effects, and less pain and fatigue. There is lots of available research on the effects of exercise and oncology patients. It improves quality of life, and for breast cancer in particular, it can reduce recurrence in survivors.
Q: Facts like this always make me feel worse and worse for not taking care of myself and exercising more! Will the program be able benefit people that struggle to exercise regularly like I do?
Kennedy: Yes! We know that telling someone to exercise is not a recipe for success. You can’t tell them to just go join a gym. The patients need to be shown how to exercise safely after the treatments they have had. When they are exercising and undergoing treatment, patients need to know what they can and can’t do. Our plan is to create an oncology exercise fitness program. Patients will be assessed to determine their personal fitness goals, and the entire program will be supervised so that they can achieve their goals, and do it safely. We hope it will create a safe place for people to go, and a community feeling. You won’t have to explain to the woman on the next treadmill why you don’t have any hair.
Q: That sounds wonderful! A personal plan and a community of support is such a good idea.
Kennedy: I have so many ideas for our wellness program. We, of course, want to heal our patients, but we also want to help them continue to be well. This will be the first program of its kind in central Indiana.
Dr. Kennedy’s plan is designed to succeed and to help patients succeed. I expect that this excellent, and ground-breaking in the area, program will yield fantastic results. The lovely gala was a perfect way to raise awareness and funding.