By Southwester Staff

The Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund (TDJBCF) Support Group, which was created in April 2010 with fewer than 10 participants, was inspired by Founder Thelma D. Jones’ breast cancer diagnosis in 2007 and her staunch belief that no one should travel their journey alone. Founder Jones retired from the World Bank after more than 33 years; the TDJBCF Support Group is modeled after the World Bank Group-IMF Breast Cancer Support Group.

In honor of the 14th anniversary of the founding of the TDJBCF Support Group, we are sharing fourteen accomplishments from this period.

1. Almost from the inception of the support group, the group established its first major cancer center partnership—with Howard University Cancer Center. That connection remains in place today.

2. In March 2020 they pivoted to online connections; welcoming more than 3,500 support group participants from nearly 20 states and six countries, including Barbados, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Spain, and St. Lucia.

3. The group inspired mammogram screenings for dozens of support group participants and their family members through a regular message that early detection saves lives and creates better outcomes.

4. The group introduced and raised greater awareness in support group meetings of triple negative breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, metastatic breast cancer, breast cancer survivors with disabilities, breast cancer in men, BRCA genes, dense breasts, brain fog, disparities in breast cancer, family history, Lynch Syndrome, circadian rhythms, patient navigation, complementary and alternative therapy, integrative oncology, genomics, proton therapy, caregiving, and a host of other related topics. They welcomed speakers from the African Women Cancer Awareness Association (AWCAA), American Cancer Society (ACS), Brem Foundation, Dana and Christopher Reeve Foundation, GW Cancer Center, Georgetown University Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Neuva Vida, Rodham Institute, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), the World Bank, and a host of other organizations.

5. The group partnered with researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and Virginia Commonwealth University to ensure that research is responsive to the needs of the community.

6. They have contributed to numerous studies to reduce cancer disparities across the cancer prevention and control continuum, including a study to expand rates of mammography maintenance and expanding access to cancer genetic services, a study to test the impact of a peer-led survivor coach intervention to improve care and empower newly diagnosed Black/African American and Latina breast cancer survivors to make informed decisions about treatment, a study to test Acupressure as a strategy to improve quality of life for Black/African Americans and Latina cancer survivors, and a study to develop a Covid-19 website for diverse breast cancer survivors.

7. They served as a platform for students to share information about ongoing research studies and to disseminate study findings.

8. The group supported major efforts to address cancer awareness and prevention, and survivorship for various cancers—including breast, ovarian, colon, lung, prostate and skin cancer.

9. For nearly ten years, with support from Georgetown University, the World Bank Group-IMF African American Association, the SWBID, and others, the group supported efforts to raise awareness of men’s health through an Annual Black History Program.

10. The group has been nationally recognized by ACSCAN in 2016 and has been the subject of more than three dozen articles about their support group meetings in The Southwester (the TDJBCF media partner), as well as in other periodicals, including articles authored by Georgetown and Smith Center officials.

11. They have been interviewed about the TDJBCF Support Group by WHUT-FM and WPFW-FM‘s “To Heal DC” and “To the East”, among others.

12. They have produced a monthly newsletter since June 2020, which has included inspiring and informative support group articles, and related topics and resources.

13. The group has been recognized by the DC City Council with at least three proclamations from Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen and Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, Sr.

14. The Thelma D. Jones Breast Cancer Fund Support Group remains as one of the longest serving and most well-respected support groups in the region, especially for women and men of color.

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