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Statement on the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

​The equal rights champion died at home on Friday from complications from pancreatic cancer

A statement from Gary M. Reedy, CEO of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) follows:

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg from complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer. On behalf of the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, we extend our deepest condolences to all of Justice Ginsburg’s family.

“Like too many Americans, Justice Ginsburg had an extensive history with cancer, having lost her mother and husband to the disease. She was diagnosed repeatedly with various forms of cancer including colon, lung, and the recurrent pancreatic cancer that eventually claimed her life. However, her personal health history and active survivorship made her an inspiration for many patients and survivors and helped inform her deep commitment to public health policy.

“Justice Ginsburg was one of six justices to uphold the Affordable Care Act, which has given cancer patients and survivors critical access to comprehensive health coverage, including cancer prevention, screening and treatment. The law has also helped reduce cancer disparities along ethnic, racial, and urban and rural lines—an outcome reflective of Justice Ginsburg’s lifelong commitment to equal rights and a powerful example for those of us committed to improving public health in this nation.

“Justice Ginsburg’s resonant voice on so many issues critical to Americans’ wellbeing will be sorely missed. In honor of her and the 1.8 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer this year, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network will continue to strongly advocate for public policies that reduce deaths and suffering from this disease and move us closer to a world without cancer.”

TOP PHOTO of the U.S. Supreme Court: Front row, left to right: Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito. Back row: Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.

  • ACS CAN honors volunteers and staff with top advocacy awards

    Donna Lundy of Florida is this year's recipient of the Volunteer Award for Excellence in Advocacy, the highest national volunteer advocacy honor bestowed by ACS CAN.

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) began its annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day on Sunday by recognizing staff and volunteers for the exceptional work they do throughout the year to make cancer a top national priority. The 2020 recipients include: 


    • Volunteer Award for Excellence in Advocacy  (VAEA)– This award is the highest national volunteer advocacy honor bestowed by ACS CAN.
      • Donna Lundy – Florida: A dedicated ACS and ACS CAN volunteer for 24 years, Donna was recognized for her exemplary work in making advocacy a top priority, including serving on the National Ambassador Team, attending state and national lobby days, raising thousands of dollars, participating in numerous policy campaigns, and working with both Relay For Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events in her community. 
    • State Lead Ambassador (SLA) of the Year– This award is presented to a lead state volunteer who has demonstrated exemplary leadership in advocating for ACS CAN's area of cancer-related public policy.
      • John Tramontin – North Carolina: John played a critical role on the Medicaid Covers US project, including driving many miles across the state to interview individuals who do not have health insurance to help them tell their story about why Medicaid is so important, as well as educating volunteers on the importance of Medicaid.
      • Kathy Ottlele – Oregon: Kathy's passion in the fight against cancer is a driving force in all she does, with successes in effectively communicating ACS CAN's public policy agenda to the media and ACS CAN fundraising, most notably as a Lights of Hope Grand Champion of Hope. 
    • Ambassador Constituent Team (ACT) Lead of the Year-- This award is given to a lead congressional district volunteer who has demonstrated remarkable leadership advocating for ACS CAN's areas of cancer-related public policy.
      • Barbara Effman –  Florida: Barbara is the muscle behind ACS CAN's highly successful South Florida Forum, managing to attract businesspeople and legislators to the event, along with high level sponsors that enables the event to regularly exceed its projected fundraising goal.
      • Lori Garcia – California: Lori has developed such a strong group of volunteer advocates that never does an action go uncompleted nor a town hall unattended.
      • Monica Theis – MinnesotaA four-time cancer survivor, Monica played a huge role in passing state legislation to ensure that Minnesotans on Medicaid have access to clinical trials, leveraging her participation on a panel discussion to share her story with a key senate chair, who eventually championed the legislation. 
    • Emerging Leader Award – This award is presented to a state volunteer who has demonstrated an exciting promise in their start with ACS CAN by taking advantage of new opportunities to advocate for cancer patients.
      • Victoria Crocker – North Carolina: In a very short time since joining ACS CAN's North Carolina Volunteer Leadership team, Victoria has played a critical role, becoming an ACT Lead and the top fundraiser in the state for Lights of Hope. Her fundraising event, "Cycling for Hope," generated media coverage in several local media outlets.


    • State Advocacy Team of the Year – This award is presented to combined staff and volunteer teams that have worked together to make a significant impression in cancer-related public policy.
      • Massachusetts: Despite many challenges in the past year, the team came together to pass groundbreaking legislation banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products in the state, engage new volunteers, and surpass their fundraising goals by 33%.


    • Field Government Relations Professional of the Year– This award recognizes a government relations professional who has worked tirelessly to make a powerful, lasting impression in cancer-related public policy.
      • Kristin Page-Nei, Montana Government Relations Director: Kristin combines her strengths in relationship building, strategy, and a passion for health equity to consistently improve quality of life in Montana and build organizational capacity for ACS CAN. 
    • Field Grassroots Professional of the Year– This award is given to an ACS CAN staff member whose collaborative efforts further the achievement of advocacy-related mission goals.
      • Paula Warlick, Oklahoma grassroots manager: Paula demonstrated a successful team approach while helping lead a successful Medicaid expansion ballot initiative effort in Oklahoma. 
    • National/Regional Professional of the Year– This award is presented each year to an exemplary staff member who has made significant contributions to the organization through their cancer advocacy work. 
      • Lori Davies, director, Grassroots Organizing, Cure Region: In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lori pushed her team, and the entire Cure Region Grassroots field team to focus on what they could do, rather than what they couldn't, leading to the creation of materials created in just a few days to help the region and organization move its advocacy work forward. 
    • American Cancer Society Partner of the Year  – This award is given to a staff member at the American Cancer Society whose collaborative efforts with the organization's advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN, further the achievement of advocacy-related mission goals.
      • Tawana Thomas-Johnson, vice president, Diversity and Inclusion: Tawana has partnered with ACS CAN on a number of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts, including seeking ACS CAN's collaboration in developing the enterprise diversity and inclusion plan, and providing diversity and inclusion training and consultation to ACS CAN staff and volunteers, which has enabled them to better partner and engage with the communities they serve.
    • Alan Mills Award– ACS CAN's highest honor for advocacy staff, recognizes any current staff person who has consistently demonstrated leadership and excellence in the area of advocacy and public policy. 
      • Mary Rouvelas, senior counsel: Mary leads the Judicial Advocacy Initiative (JAI), which recruits law firms to do pro bono public policy work for ACS and ACS CAN. Mary's leadership of the JAI has resulted in these law firms donating nearly $4 million in services to ACS CAN since 2008. This has helped advance ACS CAN's mission in many ways, including representing ACS CAN as a plaintiff in tobacco control litigation, as friends of the court in cases related to access to care, and writing regulatory comments and legislative analysis

    Read more about ACS CAN's first virtual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day happening Sept. 14.

  • ACS CAN holds its first virtual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day

    On Sept. 15, more than 700 cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones from all 50 states dialed into calls and logged onto virtual meetings to ask members of Congress to make the fight against cancer a national priority as part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s (ACS CAN) Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. The advocates represented nearly every congressional district. 

    Due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is the first time ACS CAN hosted its annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day virtually. It followed the Sept. 12 Lights of Hope Across America virtual event, which replaced the annual Lights of Hope ceremony that usually takes place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. The Facebook livestream reached an estimated 27,000 people and to date has been viewed more than 16,000 times.  Watch a replay here

    The hour-long livestream event featured dozens of stunning Lights of Hope displays in every location you could think of – neighborhood parks, front porches, backyards, driveways, windowsills and even iconic landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and Times Square. In all, there were 52,000 decorated bags and the event raised more than $720,000. Bristol Myers Squibb was the presenting sponsor. 

    "I was so honored to represent ACS CAN and share my display from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a location of such significant meaning to our country and to this event," said ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse.

    Here are some key events that took place during the week:

    Sunday, September 13

    ACS CAN recognized hardworking staff and volunteers for their outstanding work in cancer advocacy. See the full list of 2020 advocacy award recipients.

    Tuesday, September 15

    ACS CAN’s Lobby Day began with a kick-off event featuring NCAA Division I basketball coaches Jay Wright of Villanova University and Bill Self of the University of Kansas. The coaches rallied advocates before their virtual meetings and calls with lawmakers. The coaches are members of Coaches vs. Cancer®, a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches™.

    During this year’s Lobby Day, advocates asked their lawmakers to:

    • Increase funding for cancer research and prevention programs with at least $44.7 billion (a $3 billion increase) for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Fiscal Year 2021, including $6.9 billion for cancer research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and $559 million for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) cancer programs
    • Advance the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act. Named after the Black American woman from Baltimore who died of cervical cancer and whose cells cultivated during her treatment have been used to develop some of the most important cancer treatments, the Act would help focus on identifying and removing barriers that prevent underrepresented groups from participating in cancer clinical trials.

    ACS CAN also honored a select group of lawmakers and others who have made exemplary contributions to fight against cancer. The National Distinguished Advocacy Award, ACS CAN’s most prestigious honor, was presented to U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn.) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), as well as Massachusetts State Senator John Keenan and State Representative Danielle Gregoire, and Atlanta City Councilmember Matt Westmoreland. ACS CAN’s Judicial Advocacy Initiative award, which recognizes attorneys who generously donate their services to the cancer fight, was given to Jeffrey B. Dubner of the Democracy Forward Foundation.

    The day concluded with a comedy night for the annual CAN Opener fundraiser. Throughout Leadership Summit and Lobby Day, ACS CAN hosted its annual silent auction online. Proceeds from both the CAN Opener and silent auction help ACS CAN further its advocacy work. 

    Media coverage

    Media coverage for both Lights of Hope and Leadership Summit and Lobby Day has maintained a steady drumbeat over the last few months, ramping up throughout the past week leading up to the events. Regional media advocacy staff have secured more than 100 media clips in outlets across the county, and we expect to see additional letters to the editor and post-event articles appear in volunteers’ local media outlets with reports of their successful week.

  • You can still register for the Sept. 19 virtual session on COVID, Cancer, and Black America

    ACS and ACS CAN are partnering with U.S. Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX) and leaders from the professional sports community, including the Professional Football Players Mothers Association, to host a virtual session on "Cancer, COVID and Black America" on Saturday, Sept. 19. Register here.

    The session will be held during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference, and will focus on cancer in Black America, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated health disparities. NFL and NBA players, including Malcolm Jenkins of the New Orleans Saints and De'Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings, will be participating in the session, along with their mothers. The session will air on Sept. 19 at 1 p.m. ET.

    ACS CAN will host a second virtual session, "The Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer Screening" on October 1 at 6 p.m. ET. Screening experts from ACS, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control will discuss the impact of COVID-19 on cancer screening specifically in the Black community, how social determinants of health impact screening rates, and strategies for restarting screening as appropriate while recognizing that every community is unique.

    The CBCF Annual Legislative Conference is the leading policy conference on issues impacting African Americans and the global Black community. During the event, thought leaders, legislators, and concerned citizens engage on economic development, civil and social justice, public health, and education issues. The conference will run from Aug. 31 - Oct. 2.

    When prompted to select conference session, click continue at the bottom of the page. You will receive an email regarding your registration and will be able to select both sessions, "Cancer, COVID and Black America" and "The Impact on COVID-19 on Cancer Screening." 

  • Sept. 12: ACS CAN celebrates 10 years of Lights of Hope

    Watch the nationwide livestream event honoring those who have been impacted by cancer

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is celebrating 10 years of Lights of Hope by bringing hope to homes across America.

    This year’s Lights of Hope event, which will honor those who have been impacted by cancer, will provide an opportunity to share the power of Lights of Hope beyond those who traditionally attended ACS CAN’s Leadership Summit and Lobby Day in Washington, DC. Funds raised through Lights of Hope will help ACS CAN continue to make fighting cancer a national priority. Bristol Myers Squibb is the presenting sponsor.

    All across America, people will be setting up Lights of Hope bags in honor of or in memory of a loved one in their own communities, be it a yard, neighborhood park, balcony, sidewalk, or courtyard. 

    You’ll be able to see some of these displays on ACS CAN’s social media channels and during a nationwide livestream program that will air on Saturday, September 12, at 4 p.m. ET. 

    The program will feature ACS and ACS CAN CEO Gary Reedy, ACS CAN President Lisa Lacasse, ACS CAN Board President Sandy Cassese, ACS CAN volunteers, and members of Congress. ACS CAN Board member Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, president of The Links, Incorporated, will  be appearing on the program to highlight the organization’s partnership with ACS CAN to raise money for Lights of Hope and health equity work. Since 2015, The Links, Incorporated and ACS have worked together to address cancer disparities and drive health equity in all communities touched by cancer.

    You can watch the Lights of Hope Across America livestream event on ACS CAN’s Facebook page and ACS CAN’s website. Please share this information with others.

    To learn more about Lights of Hope or donate, visit The deadline to make a donation is midnight, September 14. Please note that contributions or gifts to ACS CAN are not tax deductible.

    Lights of Hope will precede ACS CAN’s Leadership Summit and Lobby Day, which will be held virtually the week of September 13. More stories about it will be coming soon.

    TOP PHOTO: Pictured with her amazing Lights of Hope is Stefania Sesock, daughter of Charaighn Sesock, director, media relations.

  • Patient groups go to court to fight expansion of short-term insurance

    ​They challenge a rule change that threatens to leave many people uninsured or underinsured

    Patient groups representing millions of people with serious health conditions submitted an amicus brief on Aug. 31 urging the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to hear the case against a federal rule expanding the availability of short-term limited-duration insurance (STLDI) plans. The request for what’s known as an en banc review comes after a three-judge panel issued a divided ruling in favor of upholding the expansion of these inadequate insurance plans.

    STLDI plans are exempt from having to cover essential health benefits, like prescription drugs and hospitalization, and can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.

    The groups, which include the American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Epilepsy Foundation, Hemophilia Federation of America, March of Dimes, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, argue the rule effectively allows STLDI plans to serve as replacements for comprehensive coverage in violation of current law.

    A statement from the groups follows:

    “The aggressive marketing and continued proliferation of STLDI plans to consumers, especially during a pandemic, threatens to erode the availability and affordability of insurance for millions of people at a time when comprehensive coverage is more important than ever.

    “Allowing plans that are exempt from covering essential services and can deny people coverage based on their health status risks splitting the individual insurance market. It also risks driving younger and healthier people towards subpar plans putting them at grave physical and financial risk. Meanwhile, those who rely on the high-quality coverage provided through the ACA’s marketplaces are forced to pay increasingly unaffordable premiums for the comprehensive coverage they require or forgo insurance entirely.  

    “Considering the potential damage this rule could have on Americans during this public health crisis and well beyond, it is essential that the full appellate Court consider the case and take action to strike down this rule and uphold the critical coverage standards under current law.”

  • Survey: Tobacco use among high schoolers is climbing

    ​Half of high school students admit to having used electronic tobacco products

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today released results from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) showing the rates of adolescents who use any tobacco product has increased significantly in the last two years (19.5% in 2017 – 36.5% in 2019) and half (50.1%) of all high schoolers surveyed said they have used an electronic tobacco product. 

    Furthermore, 32.6% of those who use electronic tobacco products identify as frequent users, meaning they’ve used the product 20 out of the previous 30 days from when the survey was taken. The rate of frequent users is highest among those who use electronic cigarettes. The survey was conducted in 2019.

    The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

    “While consistent with previous surveys, the significant increase in the number of students who report current use of any tobacco product is alarming. The fact that half of all high schoolers surveyed say they have used an electronic tobacco product (e-cigarette) and the frequency with which current e-cigarette users are using these products shows we need to do better to keep these products out of kids’ hands. There is no safe level of use of tobacco products, and no reason for a child to be using an e-cigarette. We know tobacco is the number one cause of preventable death and there is substantial evidence that e-cigarette use increases the risk of ever using combustible cigarettes among youth and young adults.

    “The time to act is now. This stark increase in e-cigarette use and use of any tobacco product in just the last two years is unacceptable. Addressing tobacco use among our youth is paramount in the fight against cancer and efforts to reduce cancer disparities nationwide. The survey clearly shows we must make passing proven tobacco control policies a priority at all levels of government, including comprehensive smoke-free laws, tax increases on all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, and fully funding state tobacco cessation programs. Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must apply strict standards, including the product’s appeal to youth, as they review applications from tobacco product manufacturers who must apply by Sept. 9 to keep their products on the market.

    “At such a critical time for public health, we should be doing everything in our power to keep our communities healthy and safe. We urge the Senate to pass the House-passed Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act that would prohibit all flavored tobacco products. ACS CAN is committed to working with lawmakers at all levels of government to protect our kids from a lifetime of addiction to a product that kills more than 480,000 Americans every year.”

  • Missouri voters increase access to Medicaid

    The August 4 vote will extend health coverage to more than 230,000 low-income people

    Missouri voters stood up for public health on and passed a ballot measure to increase access to health insurance coverage for more Missourians through the state’s Medicaid program, following on the heels of Oklahomans who made the same move at the end of June.

    This vote to increase access to the Medicaid program will improve health outcomes and reduce cancer disparities for more than 230,000 citizens who will be able to enroll in coverage in 2021.  

    The measure passed with a majority of voters responding "yes" to Amendment 2, which asked if Medicaid should be fully expanded to low-income parents and adults earning less than $17,500 a year as permitted under the federal health law. The actual vote was 672,967 to 590,809. 

    The following is a statement from Lisa Lacasse, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) president. 

    “This is an incredible victory for public health in Missouri, where more than 1 in 10 residents are currently uninsured. According to American Cancer Society research, uninsured rates in Medicaid expansion states fell from nearly 10 to about 3.5 percent between 2011-2014. This decline in the number of uninsured also resulted in a statistically significant shift toward early stage diagnosis in common cancers like, lung, breast and colon, when cancers are less expensive to treat and survival is more likely. ACS studies have found, for instance, low-income women were 25% more likely to adhere to screening guidelines in expansion states than in non-expansion states. With this vote, Missourians have elected to save lives and long-term health care costs. 

    “ACS CAN is grateful to all our staff and volunteers in Missouri who worked tirelessly to encourage their fellow Missourians to vote yes on Amendment 2 and commends the voters for standing up for the health of their neighbors, family, and friends.”  

    When the initiative goes into effect, Missouri will join the 37 other states, and the District of Columbia, that have increased access to their Medicaid programs to cover more low-income residents. 

  • Commentary in Barron's highlights plight of ACS

    ​Author supports increase in federal charitable tax deduction to increase donations to non-profits

    A commentary by a professor at Duke and Columbia universities focuses on the financial crisis in which non-profits find themselves, including ACS, due to COVID-19.

    Titled "Hard-Hit Nonprofits Face Rising Demand, Less Funding," the commentary by Stanley S. Litow, says:

    "On a national level, the American Cancer Society has seen a spike in demand for their services, which include a hotline and advice for cancer victims,concurrent with a steep decline in funding. I recently interviewed CEO Gary Reedy, who said they have already laid off roughly 1,000 people, about 25% of their workforce. He expects a revenue decline of close to $200 million. These cuts, he said, would impact their ability to continue their significant investment in cancer research, which totaled nearly $150 million in 2018."

    The author also notes that: "A June survey by the Independent Sector showed that 83% of these organizations have already seen a marked reduction in their revenue. Nearly two-thirds of 125 agencies surveyed by the Human Services Council of New York believe they will have to reduce services to those most in need as a result of budget shortfalls, and 70% expect to be laying off staff. State and local budget shortfalls will only increase the risks."

    Litow, who also serves as IBM’s vice president of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and president of IBM’s Foundation, advocates for increased philanthropic support in the form of more generous matching gift programs, incentives for skill-based volunteering, expanding no-interest lending, and an increase in the federal charitable tax deduction to boost donations.

    Read the full commentary.

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