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Back in the Swing gives $300,000 to Breast Cancer Survivorship Center

August 20, 2009

A $300,000 gift from Back in the Swing® of Kansas City will help breast cancer survivors get their lives back on track.

The gift provides support to The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s Breast Cancer Survivorship Center in the Westwood Campus, which opened in 2007. 

In the past three years, Back in the Swing has provided a total of $1 million to KU Endowment for the Center.

Back in the Swing’s founder, Barbara Unell, started the grassroots, nonprofit organization Back in the Swing in 2000, after completing treatment for breast cancer.

“My experience was like that of 98 percent of the patients who undergo breast cancer treatment,” Unell said. “What I needed to know at that point was, ‘How do I build back my immune system? What exercises should I be doing? How do I take care of my heart and my bones?’ — all the things that were affected by the treatment.”

Jennifer Klemp, PhD, MPH, is associate director of the Breast Cancer Survivorship Center. “This center would not exist without Back in the Swing,” Klemp said, noting support also came from The University of Kansas Hospital and the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Klemp described the Breast Cancer Survivorship Center as a “pillar of hope” that offers consolidation of post-treatment care. Patients benefit from the clinical expertise of The University of Kansas Cancer Center and the University of Kansas Medical Center.

“We actively research specific aspects of survivorship care and are leading the pack to change the way that post-treatment care is provided,” Klemp said. Rather than having to go to different providers and locations for cardiac care, long-term and follow-up care, genetic counseling or meeting with a dietitian, patients can receive all of these services within the Breast Cancer Survivorship Center.

Unell credited Jazzercise classes for inspiring her to get “back in the swing” of life. She founded Back in the Swing and began planning its first fundraiser, a Jazzercise event. In 2003, Back in the Swing partnered with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to develop a grassroots awareness-building fundraiser.

The signature event, Back in the Swing Retail Therapy®, has since grown to include more than 800 participating Kansas City-area stores and restaurants throughout the bi-state area.

Back in the Swing is the only U.S. foundation exclusively dedicated to helping breast cancer survivors find individualized, post-treatment health care, Unell said. “What we want for every breast cancer survivor following her treatment is a plan toward recovery and active steps aimed at reclaiming her life.”

The gift will be managed by KU Endowment, the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment is the oldest foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
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August 20, 2009
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