A New Phase In Our Work to Create More Equitable Access to Integrated Supportive Care for Every Cancer Patient and Family

By Audrey Haberman, CEO, The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation

For years, Sheri and Les Biller have championed the profound impact of cancer care programs that specialize in addressing the psychosocial, clinical, and spiritual needs of cancer care patients and their families through a model called supportive care. 

The foundation’s deepest partnership is with City of Hope, based in Duarte, California. City of Hope is a world-renowned research hospital offering a uniquely holistic and multidisciplinary clinical approach to supportive care medicine. It is one of the largest cancer research and treatment organizations in the United States and a national leader in providing cancer patients with best-in-class, integrated supportive care programs. 

In 2008, the City of Hope opened the Sheri and Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, which integrates all patient support services under one umbrella, and provides patients and their families a warm and welcoming private space to consult with medical staff and explore the many resources offered to strengthen and empower patients and caregivers before, during, and after treatment. 

Supportive care medicine not only ensures quality, evidence-based clinical care, but it also connects patients and their caregivers to comprehensive psychosocial services that help them navigate their treatment process. Beginning at intake, City of Hope’s supportive care program provides cancer patients with comprehensive physical, psychological, social and practical support services that improve outcomes and enable them to maximize their personal and family strengths. They offer services like care navigation, survivorship programs, specialists in cancer and aging, psychological and spiritual counseling, pain management, and integrative medicine like yoga, massage, meditation, and more. 

But despite their proven benefits, supportive care programs are not widely available at cancer centers and hospitals around the country. 

As Our Foundation president Sheri Biller has said, “Our shared belief at The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation and at City of Hope is that supportive care should be an essential part of cancer care for every patient and family.” 

Our goal is that everyone and every hospital in America has access to supportive care. 

That’s why today, we’re announcing that we are deepening our partnership with City of Hope to bring supportive care to every cancer patient and creating more equitable access to integrated cancer care. We’ve made a $10 million gift to expand access to supportive care for patients across its cancer care system, and to advocate for making supportive care the national standard practice for cancer care in the United States. You can read more about City of Hope’s supportive care model and our partnership here.  

“Having lost two close friends — women I referred to as sisters — to breast cancer, I’ve seen firsthand the immense toll that cancer takes on patients and their loved ones, and I have come to understand the relief that truly integrated and meaningful supportive care can provide,” said The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation President Sheri Biller. “Our aim is to leverage the power of our partnership with City of Hope to propel and advance supportive care medicine in oncology for all cancer patients. With scalable care models and training, this gift will amplify over time, expanding access to the best supportive care programs to cancer patients who have otherwise often faced racial, gender, age, economic and geographical barriers.” 

“Cancer diagnoses and treatments bring tremendous stress to families, with challenges that are uniquely personal. Providing patients with access to supportive care programs has a direct impact on their treatment outcomes and our ability to deliver value-based medical care. It results in a reduction in the length of inpatient stays, hospital readmissions and ICU stays and an improved quality of life and patient satisfaction,” said Robert W. Stone, City of Hope’s president and chief executive officer and the Helen and Morgan Chu Chief Executive Officer Distinguished Chair. “We are grateful for the ongoing and generous support and partnership of The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation. Together, our vision is to lead the way in expanding supportive care programs to cancer patients and their families early in their road to recovery – no matter where they live, or where they receive care.” 

“Older populations, people of color, and economically disadvantaged communities face unique burdens and barriers to cancer care. Supportive care programs can level the playing field in health equity, giving all patients the care they deserve,” said Dr. Edward Kim, M.B.A., Professor of Clinical Oncology and physician-in-chief at City of Hope Orange County. “We work with patients and their loved ones, from the very beginning, to understand their greatest concerns and challenges. Then we tailor our support to meet the specific needs of patients and family members at every step along the way.” 

“Nearly 15 years ago, Sheri and Les Biller saw an unmet need to better support patients and families on their cancer journey. Their visionary generosity helped City of Hope build on one of the best supportive care medicine programs in the country – a compassionate, integrated model now deeply embedded in our culture,” said Kristin J. Bertell, chief philanthropy officer at City of Hope. “Now, they are leading the way once more with a gift that will accelerate our efforts to reach more people than ever before. For that, we are truly grateful.” 

It is equally important to us to evolve the supportive care model within City of Hope’s expanded cancer care system and to also improve access for patients and their families, so that wherever they go for cancer treatment, they have access to high-quality supportive care programs that improve their lives and outcomes.