Sharon Hunt, vice president of research operations, stands with TeamEdith because she sees the impact of her giving.

Your impact: Research

October 1, 2020

“I know what those dollars can do,” said Sharon Hunt, speaking about her long-time philanthropic support for the Edith Sanford Breast Initiative and medical research at Sanford Health.

As vice president of research operations, Hunt knows firsthand how philanthropy empowers meaningful bench to bedside progress for patients.

“To take the advances we see in research and integrate them into patient care, we have to have philanthropy dollars to do that,” she said. “We rely on people who really want to advance research and move care forward.”

The latest in breast cancer research

The state of breast cancer research at Sanford, Hunt said, is especially bright thanks to Foundation supporters.

Today, 17 breast cancer clinical trials are open at Sanford Health, investigating new ways to protect, save and improve lives at every stage of the breast cancer journey. Philanthropy helps support everything from equipment and technology to staff education to patient care costs for clinical trial participants.

Turning the corner: The WISDOM Study

One of the largest studies underway is the WISDOM Study, which seeks to end confusion about breast cancer screening.

“We’ve now turned the corner in the trial,” Hunt said. “Women have been joining WISDOM for about five years. We are now to the point where we have enough data in the study to begin analysis.”

Currently, about 25,000 women at 11 sites across the country are enrolled in WISDOM, helping investigators compare the effectiveness of a personalized breast cancer screening approach to the one-size-fits-all annual approach.

 “The ultimate goal for WISDOM is to help us determine how often, and for how long, women should get screened breast cancer,” Hunt said.  In addition, we’re now starting the part of the study that analyzes the genetic characteristics of the women who do get this disease, potentially helping us to further personalize screening.”

Hunt said she expects the study to release findings by next summer, but anticipates investigators will continue asking questions and learning from the women who have signed on to the study.

Any woman between the ages of 40 and 74 who has never had breast cancer can still enroll in the WISDOM Study. Patients at Sanford Health represent about one-fifth of the 25,000 women participating in the study.

‘We rely on philanthropy’

The cost of patient care for clinical trial participants, Hunt explained, is one area where philanthropy often plays a key role.

 “Although WISDOM is sponsored through PCORI (Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute), it’s not fully funded,” Hunt said. “Sanford continues to support genetic testing and unfunded staffing costs for WISDOM.”

When we’re looking at new and innovative advanced care, the dollars aren’t there from insurance payers,” Hunt explained. “Insurers can’t pay for things that are investigative; so we rely on philanthropy.”

100% to patient care and research

This October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month — stand with TeamEdith in support of the Edith Sanford Breast Initiative. 100% of every gift can help fuel cutting-edge trials like the WISDOM Study, deliver compassionate care to women across the region and beyond, and so much more.

Give today or start a fundraiser to rally your friends and family around the cause. You’ll join hundreds of passionate supporters, like Hunt, across the region.

“Because I am involved so deeply, I understand the difference I can make,” Hunt said. “I give because I want to be sure we’re always able to bring women the best thing that’s out there.”