Cycliad bicycle challenge to benefit cancer patients

Cycliad, a unique biking event, comes to Birmingham for the first time to support navigation services for cancer patients

Cycliad a 1,300-mile, four-weekend bicycle challenge to raise funds to support patients and programs of the UAB Health System Cancer Community Network, is set to take place from April 9 to May 3, with local events May 3.

Beginning in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and ending in Birmingham, Alabama, Cycliad is designed to challenge and accommodate all types of riders. From dreamers who never get on a bike to casual weekend strollers, to elite cyclists who will ride the entire 1,300 miles, every participant is challenged to raise funds and make a difference in the lives of cancer patients.

Cycliad is an epic adventure focused on the continuation and expansion of the Patient Care Connect patient-navigator program, which is designed to pair a trained navigator — or patient advocate — with a cancer patient to help them through their cancer journey. The program works in conjunction with The UAB Health System Cancer Community Network, developed by the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center and UAB Medicine, which touches nearly 70,000 cancer patients in a five-state region in the Deep South.

“The reality is that with every diagnosis of cancer come fear, anxiety and even confusion. Patients are faced with crucial decisions and have an urgent need for information they can trust. But most of all, patients need someone to help guide them through the challenges and barriers that cancer treatment presents,” said Edward Partridge, M.D., director of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The Cancer Community Network consists of 12 associate institutions across Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee that emphasize collaboration between UAB and community cancer centers on evidence-based guidelines for cancer treatment to patients in local communities.

Patient Care Connect is funded by a $15 million Health Care Innovation Challenge Grant Award from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation with the aim, as a national model, to provide about $50 million in savings in cancer care costs over three years.

“The bottom line is that Patient Care Connect aims to reduce health care costs, and provides patients with better health care and overall better health,” Partridge said. “The patients are the reason we are so committed to this huge undertaking that involves all of our network member sites and communities.”

cycliad webPatient navigators help eliminate barriers to patient care while helping patients become more knowledgeable about disease symptoms and treatment. Patient navigators are highly trained, nonclinical employees who are able to help guide patients through the health care system, coordinate services among multiple providers and empower patients to make well-informed health care-related decisions.

With the grant expiring this summer, Cycliad was developed by the Deep South Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit created in 2014 solely dedicated to funding Patient Care Connect and other programs that support breakthroughs in cancer research, provide clinical support services, and promote cancer prevention and awareness.

“We are excited to have a core team of cyclists riding to each of the 12 UAB Health System Cancer Community Network participating sites, and that everyone participating in Cycliad will be working together to raise funds in support of the patient-navigator program prior to the ride,” said French Forbes, executive director of the Deep South Cancer Foundation. At each site there will be a community celebration, and some sites will host a local ride in addition to the celebration.

“Cycliad is our inaugural event, and a cycling challenge like this has never taken place in Birmingham. We are hoping it will continue to be our signature event for years to come,” Forbes said. “Cancer patients in our communities need our help to make a difference in their lives. We are challenging ourselves, our communities and our region to make a difference in the lives of individuals suffering from cancer.”

Cyclists and noncyclists alike can participate in Cycliad. Cyclists are encouraged to register for one of multiple cycling levels. Once cyclists register, they then can approach businesses, family and friends in search of donations. Noncyclists can register under the “Dreamers” category if they wish to help with the fundraising. They also are encouraged to volunteer at their local network hospital site during the four-week Cycliad event.

“This is a community effort, and we are committed to challenging one another physically so that those battling cancer do not have to face their challenges alone,” Forbes said.

Disclaimer: The project described was supported by Grant Number 1C1CMS331023 from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents of this abstract are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or any of its agencies.