Feature Stories

Ensuring That Young Adults With Cancer Have A Support Network

Jan 27, 2020

In 2019, the Astellas Oncology C3 (Changing Cancer Care) Prize encouraged entrants who had any idea – simple or complex – to apply. The C3 Prize is a challenge that seeks to fund the best non-treatment ideas to improve cancer care for patients, caregivers and their loved ones, and the goal in 2019, the program’s fourth year, was to encourage all ideas at any stage from anyone. This is reflected in our inspiring winners, who range from internationally recognized health experts to caregivers with no previous experience in oncology but who were driven to make a difference as a result of personal experience.

Abby Westerman, the first ever winner of the C3 Prize Emerging Ideas Prize – selected by an expert panel of judges during a live pitch event on October 25, 2019 – launched b-present Foundation in memory of her daughter, 20-year-old Kirsten Westerman, who lost her battle with leukemia in 2016.

Providing Social Support When It’s Needed the Most

During Kirsten’s cancer treatment, Abby realized how challenging it can be for young adults with cancer to get sufficient social support, which can affect their treatment and recovery.

“Kirsten got her energy from being around people, and she loved those in her life dearly,” said Abby. Like many young cancer patients, Kirsten yearned for the support of her friends and peers, but many of them struggled to stay in touch when she wanted and needed their presence the most.

“In 2017 I was joined by Kirsten's three best supporters and best friends and we established b-present Foundation,” said Abby. “We're focused on improving the experience of young adults with cancer by emphasizing and amplifying the importance of presence, giving survivors and supporters a voice to make change, and creating tools that empower supporters to be present for their friends.”

b-present Foundation created b-there, a web-based patient and supporter connection tool designed to provide patients with a quick, easy, low-stress way to control visits from loved ones, convey how the patient is feeling with status updates, and create a “wish list” of needed or wanted items. The b-there dashboard conveys a snapshot of the patient's status, mood, desire for visits/communication, schedule/availability, and wish list. To respect patient privacy, only invited supporters have access to view the patient dashboard and respond to a patient's requests.

“If we learn to be present with the person, we have the ability to change not only the quality of care but the quality of life for the patient,” Abby said.

What’s Next for b-Present Foundation

b-Present Foundation plans to use the Emerging Ideas Prize to extend the reach of b-there, in order to ensure it is meeting broad and diverse community needs and that the impact of b-present is relevant and significant in homes and hospitals across the country. Currently, b-present Foundation has a prototype b-there tool that is ready for community input, and is collaborating with hospitals and universities to find volunteer evaluators.

Along with the funding, all C3 Prize winners have the opportunity to attend TEDMED 2020 as TEDMED Scholars, joining a unique, multidisciplinary community of leading thinkers and doers from across the landscape of health, medicine, and scientific innovation. The winners also have received a yearlong complimentary membership to MATTER, a global healthcare startup incubator, community nexus and corporate innovation accelerator.

Stay Connected

To learn more about our 2019 winners, visit the C3 Prize website. Also, follow #C3Prize and Astellas Oncology on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter to see the latest updates.