Scattergood Foundation

Advancing Innovative Strategies for Change in Behavioral Health

Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia

Name of Innovative Program: 
Emma's Haircut: Supporting Young Mothers
Sponsoring Organization
Cancer Support Community Greater Philadelphia
Name of Innovative Program Lead: 
Florence Gelo DMin
E-mail Address of Innovative Program Lead:
Project Description: 
Young mothers newly diagnosed with cancer have few resources to help their young children learn about and support their mother's cancer treatment.  Working in collaboration with the Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia, we seek to use the just-completed film, Emma's Haircut as a tool to provide education and support to these young mothers and their families.   We seek funding to write, design and duplicate a facilitator’s guide to pilot an educational program to accompany the film.  We also seek funds to design and reproduce a DVD cover and make copies of the film. We intend to distribute 250 copies of the film and booklet initially throughout the five-county Philadelphia region at no cost, and subsequently nationwide through wellness communities and national cancer center resource libraries.  The facilitators guide will be used in group settings in conjunction with viewing the 10-minute video, Emma's Haircut.  It will provide background information about the medical and emotional challenges faced by young mothers newly diagnosed with cancer, include discussion questions, links to the Internet resources, and contact information for support organizations.Preparation for the writing of a facilitators guide will be informed through consumer focus groups, planned for February/April 2014.
Creativity and Innovation: 
One hundred seventy eight thousand women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States. Of these, approximately 3800 are between ages of 20 and 34.  Many are parenting young children. Hair loss is one of the most distressing and dreaded aspects of treatment.  Making sense of this experience for their young children and providing emotional safety is also a vital priority.   Emma's Haircut takes the viewer through one woman's struggle to help her young children cope with the reality of her cancer and treatment. There is no film resource available at this time that offers young mothers a visual example of solving a painful problem.  Nor is there a film that depicts parents involving young children in learning about and supporting their mother's cancer treatment. Additionally, although Emma's Haircut focuses on hair loss, it raises other emotional issues in the face of life threatening illness. 
Emma’s Haircut is a raw and emotionally engaging film that provides an effective tool for facilitators to encourage conversation. Moreover, it’s a flexible tool. While the video is focused on one event, the haircut, it presents a range of issues and questions that can prompt and inform a variety of discussions.Emma's Haircut provides a template to be easily replicated.  Support staff can use the film as a conversation starter by engaging and inspiring.  Coupled with a discussion group, it is a resource to help families cope.Emma's family, a white middle class household in the northeastern United States, reflects one small segment of the diverse population of young mothers with cancer.  Emma's Haircut is a first step to document one family's approach to helping their children to understand their mother's cancer.  We hope this effort will encourage other filmmakers to document other stories.
Emma's Haircut received endorsement from three wellness organizations as we attempted to raise funds to produce the film.  While our fundraising efforts were unsuccessful, the film was produced with donated expertise and effort.The film has been completed and these same organizations have expressed their support for educational programs using the video and facilitator's guide.The Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia and Young Survivors Network have committed to mobilize national wellness community networks to train facilitators and utilize the film and by connecting leaders and providing training.Our project will require no future income once the film is delivered. Distribution will be free of charge through nonprofit educational and support communities nationally.
We plan to distribute Emma's Haircut (DVD and educational booklet) free of charge to selected regional and national support networks.  These include Cancer Support Community of Philadelphia (formerly the Wellness Community of Philadelphia and Gilda's Club Delaware Valley) and the Young Survivors Network, a national organization founded to support, educate and advocate for young women with breast cancer. The Young Survivors Network will send Emma's Haircut as part of a care package mailed to newly diagnosed women with children. At this time, all three organizations have formally endorsed the film project and are committed to using the film for educational purposes.Emma's Haircut will be made available free of charge to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Mautner Foundation, and the American Cancer Society. Their expertise will be used to utilize and promote Emma's Haircut. We will also locate other relevant cancer support services, organizations and individuals. 
All focus group participants will receive a pre-post-test questionnaire (approximately 150) to assess the participants’ normal methods of coping, i.e. meditation, music, television, exercise, etc. and rank through a rating scale how each modality works to alleviate their symptoms.  Participants will be asked to determine if the film and discussion were more or less effective than their other methods of coping and more useful to encourage discussions about cancer with their children and loved ones.Self-report by participants will determine whether or how group discussions and support following viewing the film better address the symptoms of anxiety; improve efforts to talk with their children and partners and include their children in discussions about cancer. The ultimate outcome is to stimulate conversation in the home.  While we will never know the scope of these outcomes they may be reported by consumers who participate in ongoing cancer support and educational activities.