Contact: Debra Thompson
Director, RMH Corporate Communications
RMH breast health navigator Meg Shrader, RN, has received the 2008 Sharon H. Kohlenberg Healthcare Services Award from the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation for her advocacy work on behalf of breast cancer patients.
She received the award Oct. 11 in Virginia Beach during a VBCF conference on breast cancer survivorship issues.
“There is no one more deserving of this award than Meg,” said Teresa Boshart Yoder, director of Women’s Services at RMH. “She is fabulous and tireless in her work with and for women affected by breast cancer. Anyone who has seen her advocate for women can attest to her compassion and commitment!”
The VCBF established the Sharon H. Kohlenberg Healthcare Service Award in 1995 to recognize Virginia healthcare providers who “exhibit deep and abiding commitment to the fight against breast cancer.” The award also honors the memory of Sherry Kohlenberg, a healthcare administrator and co-founder of the VBCF, who died from breast cancer in 1993. Virginia residents who work in a breast cancer-related healthcare field and who typically go above and beyond what is normally expected of a healthcare provider may be nominated for this award.
Shrader joined RMH in 2006 as its first breast health navigator. In this role, she helps women who have been diagnosed with, or who are awaiting a possible diagnosis of, breast cancer to get through the maze of tests and treatment options available to them. She also provides education and support to those women.
She became president of the Blue Ridge Chapter of the VBCF in January. She is a member of the Breast Health Coalition of the Valley, which works to improve breast cancer awareness and advocacy in the community and to provide opportunities for professional and public education. She also coordinates a breast cancer support group. In addition, she recently participated in the evaluation of research proposals submitted to the Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) for funding, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.
“I am very humbled by this honor,” she said. “I am a survivor, provider, advocate. My work with the Coalition and in advocacy is my passion. It’s one thing I think women have done right. Women have started to fight against breast cancer as a grassroots effort and done very well. In the era of decreased funding, we need to keep it on the forefront, keep talking about it.
“The Blue Ridge Chapter deserves this as much as I do,” she continued. “It’s a cool group of women. Some of us work behind the scenes, some of us talk to groups, but we are all passionate about making things better for the next ones. People with a common focus can achieve amazing things!”
Shrader was nominated for the award by Sheri Bang, RN, director of Every Woman’s Life, a federally funded program that pays for mammograms and clinical breast exams for medically underserved women. The two serve together on the Blue Ridge Chapter of the VBCF as well as the Breast Health Coalition of the Valley, which is connected to the Every Woman’s Life program.
“I wanted the dedication and sensitivity that Meg brings to be recognized because that’s what I think the common foundation is about, being an advocate for women who have this disease,” said Bang. “She is dedicated to making sure women have what they need. I can’t say I was surprised when I learned she received it because she was more than deserving. It is an extremely prestigious award; previous recipients were very prominent in research and treatment.”
Bang has worked with Every Woman’s Life for 10 years and has enrolled over 1,300 women in the program. Shrader has worked with a number of these women as the result of a breast cancer diagnosis.
“In my 10 years of working with women with this program, I have found that the minute that diagnosis is said out loud, women just tend to shut down,” Bang said. “So it is important for them to have someone who can say what they need to hear; to help them understand what to ask and help them to interpret what they hear.”
Bang noted that her clients, who are diverse in age, ethnicity and education, have told her that Shrader’s help made it much easier for them to get through their breast cancer experience. “They all come away much comforted by having met her,” she said. “As a breast cancer survivor, she understands the needs and concerns of those with breast cancer and she shares her own survivorship experience. In many medical settings, I find that people truly value what someone has to say who has actually walked there.
“Meg is tireless,” Bang continued. “I tell people who don’t know her yet that she makes the Energizer bunny look like a slug! She never fails to rise to the occasion to help women who seem to be lost. She’s always there for these women whether their needs are small or huge. Very quickly upon meeting Meg Shrader, patients know they can count on her. She can offer as much or as little as they need, and she offers that support limitlessly. This is just her gift: to be able to share herself with people in such a sensitive way. She’s invaluable to women in this community and RMH is really lucky to have her!”
Shrader expressed gratitude to those who have supported her in continuing her education and in conducting advocacy work. “I could not do what I do without all the support I’ve received, particularly from the Breast Health Coalition and RMH,” she said. “We need to keep our eyes on the prize, and the prize is the patient. First and foremost, I do what I do for the patient.”
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