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ACS wins Sharecare award for our virtual reality program for kids with cancer

The American Cancer Society has won a prestigious Sharecare award in the category of Innovation for our our pediatric virtual reality program that helps relieve the pain and suffering children experience during cancer treatment.

Ben Kaplan, managing director, digital products and innovation, and Rachel Cannady, strategic director, cancer caregiver support, led this initiative. 

We collaborated with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to bring the VR intervention to its clinic. Results showed that the kids reported less pain and anxiety when they used VR during preparation for medical procedures. Watch a video about the program.

Our Caregiver Stress Management video (part of our caregiver series} was a finalist in Behavioral/Mental Health category. It was filmed by Dan Hodlick, executive producer, live events.

ACS is one of 16 winners in the second annual Sharecare Awards across categories spanning various media formats and health topics. Established in 2018, in association with the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, New York Chapter - renowned for the Emmy Awards - the Sharecare Awards promote and reward excellence for the best productions and programming in health and well-being.

Sharecare is honoring each category winner through custom social campaigns featuring a range of health and well-being influencers and celebrity activists, including nine-time NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins, Olympic Gold medalist Scott Hamilton, and meditation and mindfulness expert Deepak Chopra. 

With category winners being revealed via Sharecare’s Facebook and Twitter channels with the hashtag #AllTogetherBetter through Friday, Nov. 15, 2020, this unique format amplifies the important work of each Sharecare Award honoree.


  • New Health Equity resources at your fingertips

    New tools aim to help volunteers and staff apply the health equity lens to their work

    A new collection of multimedia resources is now available to help volunteers advance health equity through their work. The tools are available on Brand Toolkit and on cancer.org and include:

    "This newest collection of resources lends an authentic and relatable voice to the stories we want to share about health equity," said Ashley Brown, director, health equity – stakeholder engagement. "Now more than ever, we must uplift and center the voices of people who are marginalized and their experiences with cancer."

    One of the central goals of the Health Equity team is to shift social norms around health equity within ACS and ACS CAN so that health equity principles are integrated into the work we do.

    "While ACS and ACS CAN have been working on health disparities for some time, our health equity work is evolving. We can and must do more to tackle the underlying systemic issues impacting someone's ability to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. We hope that with this timely release of new health equity materials, volunteers and staff feel empowered to inform decision-making and take action to advance the health equity principles in their daily work." said Tracy Wiedt, managing director, healthy communities.

    For more information about our health equity work, visit cancer.org/healthequity.


  • New ACS CAN report underscores the importance of affordable, comprehensive health coverage

    On Oct. 22, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) released a report detailing the costs of treating cancer, specifically out-of-pocket costs typical cancer patients face. 

    The report found U.S. cancer patients in 2018 spent $5.6 billion in out-of-pocket costs for cancer treatment. Overall, the disease cost the country $183 billion in direct cancer-related health care spending in 2015—an amount that is projected to increase to $246 billion by 2030. 

    It also found cancer-caused financial hardship falls hardest on people of color, those who have lower incomes, and/or have lower education levels and younger patients. 

    The report comes just a few weeks before the Supreme Court hears a case that could invalidate the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and significantly alter how Americans get health care and what they pay for it. 

    The report examines the costs associated with several kinds of cancer through various common insurance types including: a large employer-sponsored plan, a small employer high deductible plan, an individual marketplace plan, a short-term limited duration (STLD) plan, and Medicare. 

    The analysis found a wide range in total patient costs, especially between the ACA-compliant plans and the non-compliant non-comprehensive STLD option. 

    When premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance were calculated, patients with comprehensive or ACA-compliant coverage paid between $5,000 out-of-pocket in a large employer plan to over $12,000 in an individual marketplace plan for their care. However, the patient costs in an STLD plan totaled a staggering $52,000, due largely to the fact the plan did not cover prescription drugs and has a deductible of over $12,000. STLD plans, which have proliferated under an administrative rule change, are not required to cover essential health benefits, including prescription medication, and do not have to cap patient expenses. Unfortunately, many enrollees do not realize the inadequacy of this type of coverage when they enroll in a STLD plan. 

    “This report shows just how important it is that patients have access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Research shows that paying five or ten thousand dollars out of pocket – often within a span of only 1-3 months – is extremely challenging even under the best-case scenario. Should the Supreme Court invalidate the health care law and eliminate its patient protections that mitigate these costs, millions more Americans are likely to find a cancer diagnosis to be financially devastating.” 

    Key report findings include:

    • Having insurance coverage and the type of coverage is critical. Benefit design determines how much a patient pays and how and when they’ll pay it. High deductible health plans may have lower monthly premiums, but force patients to pay much higher costs all at once when they get sick, which can be challenging for patients and may lead to delayed tests or treatment.
    • Out-of-pocket limits protect cancer patients, who rely heavily on their insurance benefits to treat their disease. Such patients often hit their maximum spend quickly and once reached do not have to pay cost sharing for in-network covered services.
    • STLD plans put patients at risk for extreme costs as they do not have to cap patient out-of-pocket spending, can have even higher deductibles, and do not have to cover specific essential services.

    Changing insurance plans mid-year can cause spending spikes and higher total costs—a scenario more people may be experiencing due to coronavirus-related layoffs—and that the type of cancer, treatment plan, and treatment duration can cause huge variation in how much patients pay. The patient profiles do not account for out-of-network services, surprise medical bills, transportation and other expenses patients often incur. 

    The full report, along with an executive summary and infographics illustrating specific scenarios and themes, can be found at fightcancer.org/costsofcancer

    Spanish-language versions of the executive summary and infographics also are available on the website

    The report details numerous policy proposals lawmakers should implement to ensure patient access to affordable, comprehensive health coverage and address the high costs of cancer. A recent survey of cancer patients and survivors found access to comprehensive health care that covers all necessary services—during the pandemic and beyond—is patients’ and survivors’ top health-related priority (51%), followed by the availability of such coverage should someone’s job change (20%).

    “We need lawmakers to do everything they can to ease the financial stress cancer patients experience and ensure they’re able to get quality, affordable care,” said Lisa. “That means working together to protect and strengthen the current health care law.”


  • NCCRT seeks nominations for achievement awards

    The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable is seeking nominations for the 2021 80% in Every Community National Achievement Awards, a competitive recognition program that seeks to highlight success stories in the effort to achieve colorectal cancer screening rates of 80% and higher in communities across the nation.

    Nominations must be received by Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, at 8 p.m. ET.

    The American Cancer Society is championing the 80% goal by working with state and local organizations to ramp up their colorectal cancer screening efforts. This is your chance to nominate organizations you work with for this competitive awards program. 

    You can certainly nominate partners that have reached 80%, but we also are looking to recognize systems who are seeing improvements in their screening rates or who are launching ambitious or innovative interventions. 

    Visit the 80% in Every Community National Achievement Awards webpage to learn more about contest rules, and to submit your nomination. The Grand Prize winner will receive a $3,000 donation to support their work, and four first runners up will each receive $1,000, all selected by an independent volunteer panel. 

    Don't miss this opportunity to recognize individuals or organizations that are dedicating their time, talent, and expertise to advancing this important goal!


  • Reach To Recovery app launches to help newly diagnosed breast cancer patients

    People facing breast cancer can see possible volunteer matches immediately.

    To better support the needs of those facing breast cancer, we are pleased to share that the Reach To Recovery® program is now available online and through a mobile app. 

    Reach To Recovery connects people facing breast cancer – from diagnosis through survivorship – with trained volunteers who are breast cancer survivors. Our volunteers provide one-on-one support to help those facing breast cancer cope with diagnosis, treatment, side effects, and more. Volunteers do not provide medical advice.

    The Reach To Recovery website and app allow those facing breast cancer to create an online profile and see possible volunteer matches immediately. Then they can connect at a time that is convenient for them. 

    Starting in January 2021, all Reach To Recovery visits will be coordinated through the website and app.

    Here's how it works:

    • Join online: People facing breast cancer sign up and create their online profiles at reach.cancer.org or on the mobile app ACS Reach, available in the App Store and Google Play.
    • Match: They can select the criteria that are important to them and see possible volunteer matches. Criteria include type of breast cancer, stage, hormone receptor status, treatment type, lymphedema, and more.
    • Connect: They connect with a volunteer at a time that is convenient for them. 

    “We’re excited to bring the proven benefits of the Reach To Recovery program to the next level, empowering survivors and patients to help each other no matter where they are in a way that is most convenient for them,” said Chuck Westbrook, senior vice president, Cancer Control Programs and Services.

    For staff who would like to promote the program, an updated flyer and social media messaging are available on the Brand Toolkit. There's also information on cancer.org.

    For staff who would like to learn more, there is a short demo video. This video is for internal use only.

    Inquiries from the media should be directed to your Regional VP of Communications & Marketing. If you have program-related questions, please contact Hillary Grice, MPM, Digital Program Manager, for guidance.


  • Please take our 2020 Health Equity Survey before Oct. 22

    ​All volunteers are asked to participate, as one way to help advance our health equity work

    The American Cancer Society and ACS CAN work every day to achieve our mission to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. To achieve our mission, it is imperative that we fully address cancer disparities, so that all people have a fair and just opportunity to live a longer, healthier life free from cancer regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live.

    To ensure we are strengthening our organization’s collective capacity to advance health equity, we are once again this year asking all volunteers and staff to complete a quick health equity survey

    This year’s survey, which closes at the end of the day on Oct. 21, will gauge what volunteers and staff know about health equity, what actions they may have taken over the past year to help advance health equity, and what resources they need to increase the integration of health equity into their work. It should take about 10  minutes to complete.

    Survey results will be used to help the Society’s Health Equity team ensure we are providing our staff and volunteers with the information, materials, and tools they need to be health equity champions and reduce cancer disparities. 

    Though this is the third consecutive year we’ve fielded this survey, all volunteers and staff are encouraged to complete it even if they have completed it before so that our Health Equity team understands current needs and levels of understanding. Thank you!

  • Watch the Cancer, COVID, & Black America replay

    As a committed leader in driving health equity, the American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society Action Network partnered with the Professional Football Players Mothers Association (PFPMA) and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF) to debut Cancer, COVID, & Black America as part of the CBCF’s Annual Legislative Congress on Saturday, September 19.

    This informal conversation hosted by former NFL linebacker and Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Colin Allred and NFL media personality Kirsten Watson, looked at how health disparities are further impacted by COVID-19. Watch the replay

    Participants included PFPMA president and breast cancer survivor Gwendolyn Jenkins and her son Malcolm Jenkins (New Orleans Saints), two-time breast cancer survivor Tarralyn Jones and her son Christian Jones (Detroit Lions), pancreatic cancer survivor Dr. Arica Johnson and her son, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson Jr., retired NFL All-Pro wide receiver (Detroit Lions), breast cancer survivor Lorraine Fox and her son De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings), and medical expert Dr. Jackie Dunmore Griffith.

    A collaboration among staff from ACS CAN, the GHQ Sports Alliances team, GHQ Field Operations, GHQ Diversity & Inclusion, and NER Community Development leadership helped bring this idea to life.

    For additional information, please contact Margaret Belch, strategic director, Regional Sports and Entertainment.


  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month is here!

    Each October, we turn our focus to the fight against breast cancer. It is a time to celebrate breast cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost to the disease, and come together to raise funds and awareness. And, while this yeaar's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month might look and feel a little different than it has in past years, our commitment remains as strong as ever.

    There are a number of ways volunteers and supporters can engage in the fight against breast cancer this year, including:

    • Fundraising: We are hosting our first-ever national Making Strides Against Breast Cancer broadcast – called Strides Live Across America on Oct. 18 at noon ET to ensure every community and survivor has an opportunity to celebrate and be celebrated. Tune in via Facebook, YouTube, or MakingStridesWalk.org to view highlights from communities and supporters across the nation. Viewers can contribute or follow along on social media by using #StridesLive. Many events and activations are happening in cities throughout the country, and Real Men Wear Pink Candidates around the U.S. are busy raising funds and awareness in support of our efforts, as well.
    • Social media: The Chevrolet #IDriveFor campaign is back. Now through Oct. 31, Chevy will donate $5, up to $220,000, for every post on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #IDriveFor. Share who you drive for using the hashtag #IDriveFor and tag @AmericanCancer. Our partnership with Chevrolet has raised nearly $14 million for breast cancer research over the last decade.
    • Promotions: Denim Days, presented by Buckle, encourages denim fans to “dress up” their denim and donate $5 or more to help save lives from breast cancer on Oct. 23. Now through Oct. 25, Buckle is offering customers several ways to donate to ACS, including via an in-store round-up campaign and give back opportunities on select regular-priced jeans and “Unite To Fight” t-shirts. 
    • Support: Our Reach To Recovery program is now available via a new website and mobile app to make it easy for patients to connect with trained volunteers who are breast cancer survivors. And, our “tlc” Tender Loving Care® program celebrates 25 years of helping women with appearance-related side effects by offering them a variety of affordable wigs, hats, and scarves, as well as a full range of mastectomy products.

    And do not forget: If you are a woman 40 and older, talk to your health care provider about the breast cancer screening plan that is right for you. You can find more information on our breast cancer special coverage page on cancer.org

    We have heard concerns from many people about whether they should continue cancer screenings amid the pandemic. We encourage you to discuss your concerns with your care providers. This resource on cancer.org offers background on cancer screening during these uncertain times.


  • New resource for state cancer coalitions

    ​Our CCC team launches acs4ccc.com

    Our Comprehensive Cancer Control (CCC) team recently launched acs4ccc.org, a website compiling resources from across the enterprise for use by leaders and key stakeholders in state cancer coalitions. 

    “We hope the new website will become a one-stop-shop for CCC coalitions to access the huge volume of resources that ACS has to offer them as they develop and implement cancer plans,” says Katie Bathje, director of Comprehensive Cancer Control. “ACS has an incredible breadth of high-quality tools and information. Our job was to curate and layout those tools in a way that resonated with comprehensive cancer control coalition partners.”

    For more than 20 years, ACS has provided training and technical assistance to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 66 grantee programs and coalitions which are a part of the National Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. These coalitions are charged with designing and implementing impactful, strategic, and sustainable plans to prevent and control cancer in their state, tribe, or territory.

    The website offers several options for users to search for information, either by cancer continuum topic area (prevention, screening and early detection, treatment, and survivorship), or by categories that would be recognized and sought after by CCC partners – such as Cancer Data, Cancer Planning, Roundtables, and Policy, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) Change. 

    Early feedback on the website has been positive. Cancer Control Strategic Partnerships Manager in the North Region, Shannon Bacon, says she “loves acs4ccc.”

    “ACS has so many useful tools that sometimes it's been hard to keep track of them all. This website brings all of them together into one easy-to-use place so that we are equipped to jump right in with coalition partner," she said.

    If you have an idea or suggestion for acs4ccc.org, contact Katie on Teams IM or by email at katie.bathje@cancer.org.


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