Contribution Supports Programs to Empower Women, Inspire Others

A generous contribution from The Charles Evans Foundation is funding research related to lifestyle interventions and integrative medicine services at the NYU Cancer Institute which have the potential to improve the lives of women with breast cancer.

The donation is a gift from Bonnie Pfeifer Evans, a New York City philanthropist whose late husband, Charles Evans, was a founder of the fashion house Evan-Picone. Mr. Evans died in 2007. Mrs. Evans made the gift to honor a friend going through breast cancer treatment as well as Mrs. Evans’ mother, who died of breast cancer. “The more I found out about the initiatives, work, and patient care at the NYU Cancer Institute, the more impressed I became,” she says. As an active individual who incorporates exercise, good nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle into her own life, she believes in the value of such interventions for people with cancer, too.

The $250,000 gift is being used to support research evaluating lifestyle interventions to improve quality of life in women with breast cancer. One project is assessing an eight-week exercise program for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients who are overweight. In partnership with Martha Eddy, EdD, of Moving for Life, investigators are surveying participants before, after, and up to one year following completion of the program to see if women change their exercise behaviors as a result of the initiative.

“It is increasingly clear that modifications in diet and exercise may contribute to improved outcomes after breast cancer treatment,” says Freya Schnabel, MD, Professor of Surgery and Director of Breast Surgery at the NYU Cancer Institute, who treated Mrs. Evans’ friend. “We are grateful to The Charles Evans Foundation for providing the support to help us launch this program.”

In another project supported by the gift, NYUCI investigators are assessing the effectiveness of acupuncture to reduce pain and shoulder/chest tightness after surgery in women who had mastectomy and placement of a tissue expander (part of the breast reconstruction process). Up to a third of women who undergo this surgical procedure report postoperative pain that sometimes continues long-term.

“When a woman hears she has breast cancer, it can be overwhelming. She can feel helpless in so many ways,” explains Mrs. Evans. “Lifestyle interventions enable women to make choices that can be empowering for them, and hopefully inspire their family members and friends around them to feel empowered, too.”