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Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven receives $35K grant from Pfizer, Avon to support patients living with metastatic breast cancer

New Haven, CT  (January 26, 2015) – Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven is proud to announce that it has been chosen as one of 23 grant recipients for the Avon-Pfizer Metastatic Breast Cancer Grants Program: Identify-Amplify-Unify. The program, run by Pfizer Inc. and the Avon Foundation for Women, granted a total of $1 million to 23 organizations nationwide to support and educate more than 5,000 metastatic breast cancer patients, their caregivers, and their communities.

“To date, the majority of public attention on and funding for breast cancer has centered on early-stage disease – such as screening strategies and survivorship – not on late-stage diagnosis. As a result, the Avon-Pfizer Metastatic Grants Program was established to  address the gaps in support available to women and men living with metastatic disease, and to create  new services  for metastatic patients so they do not have to face this disease alone,” said Marc Hurlbert, executive director of the Avon Foundation for Women Breast Cancer Crusade. “Our hope is that one day, all patients can access the unique care and support services they need, regardless of their ability to pay.”

Metastatic breast cancer is the most advanced stage of breast cancer and occurs when cancer spreads beyond the breast to other parts of the body, including the bones, lungs, liver and brain. Nearly three in 10 women who have had early breast cancer will eventually develop metastatic disease. There are no cures currently available, and continuous treatment is needed to control the spread of the disease and its symptoms.  

“We are thrilled to have been chosen by the Avon-Pfizer Metastatic Breast Cancer Grants Program,” said Andrea Silber, MD, Smilow Cancer Hospital Medical Oncologist and Yale Cancer Center Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine. “This grant will allow us to provide coordinated care to New Haven women with Metastatic Breast Cancer who are at risk for adverse outcomes due to racial and ethnic disparities. We are committed to outstanding care for all communities and this award will help to establish a novel program to assist the most vulnerable women with advanced breast cancer.”

“Pfizer is proud to join the Avon Foundation in supporting these 23 important projects and the organizations driving them,” said Maya Martinez-Davis, regional president, North America, Pfizer Oncology. “With the public breast cancer conversation focused primarily on early breast cancer, there is a need to foster greater understanding of metastatic disease and increased support for metastatic patients and their caregivers. Our hope is that the projects being funded by the Avon-Pfizer Metastatic Breast Cancer Grants Program will make a meaningful difference to the metastatic breast cancer community.” 

Bridging the Care Continuum for Underserved Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer at Smilow Cancer Hospital is a program designed to identify the needs of low-income, ethnically diverse minority women residing in New Haven neighborhoods and Greater New Haven towns, who are living with metastatic breast cancer, stage IV, or advanced breast cancer. A medical oncologist at the breast clinic at Smilow Cancer Center Saint Raphael Campus will work closely with a bilingual Nurse Coordinator to help patients and their families navigate the complexity of care necessary for them to make informed health care decisions consistent with their needs, values and personal preferences. While all women living with metastatic breast cancer need help to address the challenge of living with an incurable disease, underserved minority women encounter barriers that have ramifications for the whole family. Many of these women are single heads of households, speak English as a second language, are economically poor, and lack even the most basic resources. They are at-risk for encountering barriers that are physical, financial, psychosocial, language and legal – which may exist alone or in combination.

Once identified by the medical oncologist as eligible for the program, the Nurse Coordinator focuses on: 1.) navigating the patient and family across care settings according to the established patient care plan, 2.) ensuring that the patient/family have appropriate information, understand and have the capacity to adhere to the medical plan, and 3.) bridging between the various departments, services, points of care encountered by the patient/family. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker will also provide group support meetings once a month, which can be an important form of support throughout the entire course of recurrence treatment and in the preparation for life coming to an end. Together, they will work to improve the patient’s quality of life and that of her family.

Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven was one of 23 organizations to receive grants ranging from $15,000 to $100,000, to:

  • Address gaps in services for the metastatic breast cancer community, including medical, psychological, nutritional, complementary and integrative services, support, financial, and legal support
  • Distribute resources and services available to vulnerable populations
  • Share educational resources with the public focusing on metastatic disease, palliative care, treatment options, clinical trials, access to holistic medication, and complementary medicine


Pfizer Oncology is committed to the discovery, investigation and development of innovative treatment options to improve the outlook for cancer patients worldwide. Our strong pipeline of biologics and small molecules, one of the most robust in the industry, is studied with precise focus on identifying and translating the best scientific breakthroughs into clinical application for patients across a wide range of cancers. By working collaboratively with academic institutions, individual researchers, cooperative research groups, governments, and licensing partners, Pfizer Oncology strives to cure or control cancer with breakthrough medicines, to deliver the right drug for each patient at the right time. For more information, please visit

The Avon Foundation for Women is the world’s largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy focused on issues that matter most to women. Since its inception in 1955, the Avon Foundation has promoted or aided charitable, scientific, educational, and humanitarian activities, with a special emphasis on activities that improve the lives of women and their families. Through 2013, Avon global philanthropy, led by the Avon Foundation, has donated more than $957 million in more than 50 countries for causes most important to women. Today, Avon philanthropy focuses on funding breast cancer research and access to care through the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, and efforts to reduce domestic and gender violence through its Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program. Visit The Avon Foundation for Women website for more information.