The City of Hope cancer research and treatment organization announced Tuesday it received a $10 million gift from the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, which it will use to expand its supportive care medicine offerings and to advocate for establishing supportive care as a standard cancer treatment practice in the U.S.
City of Hope is a leader in supportive care in the U.S., being the first to fully integrate it into a patient’s clinical care. It now offers one of the largest supportive care programs in the country.
The program offers physical, psychological, social and practical support services– including care navigation, survivorship programs, counseling, pain management and integrative medicine like yoga and meditation. The services are provided to cancer patients beginning at intake and City of Hope says it improves outcomes and enables people to maximize their personal and family strengths.
“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 City of Hope president and CEO Robert Stone, who is also 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.”
The donation will be used to increase City of Hope’s work to train providers in the delivery of supportive care, develop research that informs care guidelines and develop assessment tools that other health care providers can adapt and use for themselves. City of Hope will also focus the gift on expanding supportive care by convening and educating patients, policymakers, insurance companies and health care providers on why it should be used as a standard practice for cancer and other life-threatening conditions.
“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. 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 Sheri Biller, president of the foundation.
“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.”
City of Hope personalizes its care based on the individual’s age, noting that more than half of all cancer patients and nearly 70% of survivors are older than 65.
According to City of Hope Orange County’s physician-in-chief Edward Kim, “supportive care programs can level the playing field in health equity, giving all patients the care they deserve.” He noted that older patients, people of color and economically disadvantaged patients face unique barriers to cancer treatment.
“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,” he said.
The Sheri and Le Biller Family Foundation was founded in 2021 and helps funds solutions in supportive care, workforce development, social impact theater and public education. The foundation previously donated to support the creation of the Sheri and Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center at City of Hope’s Los Angeles campus. Another center of the same name will open at City of Hope’s new Irvine campus.
“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.”