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Free webinar Aug 11: What to do when cancer changes your financial plans

​If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, a trusted advisor such as a CPA or financial planner can help you navigate associated financial matters. To help guide you through the process, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the American Cancer Society are partnering to host a free webinar, "What to do When Cancer Changes Your Financial Plans," on Friday, August 11, at 11 a.m. ET.

In this webcast, Leonard Lichtenfeld, MD, our deputy chief medical officer, and Martin Shenkman, CPA/PFS, MBA, AEP, JD, a long-time Planned Giving leadership volunteer, will guide you through what you need to know, including:

  • Managing the costs of cancer treatment and daily living expenses
  • Advance directives and other legal and estate planning documents
  • Insurance considerations
  • Support programs and services, including those offered by the American Cancer Society

Register early for the August 11 webinar as space is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Fast Company article highlights our partnership with IBM to save lives from cancer in Africa

    An interesting article published July 26 in Fast Company, titled "Why IBM pays its employees to take time off to tackle the world's problems," highlights our partnership with IBM and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to bring lifesaving medications to cancer patients in six sub-Saharan African countries.

    No doubt it will have wide readership and open many people's eyes to the breadth of our work. 

    The article notes that only about 10% of cancer patients in sub-Sahara Africa receive chemotherapy treatment, primarily because the drugs are so expensive and tricky to administer. "To fix it, you’d need to somehow lower and stabilize medicine prices and train doctors on various treatment protocols," the article explains.

    In August of 2016, IBM offered to help accomplish that - at no cost. It teamed up with the ACS and the CHAI to launch the first of an emerging set of IBM Health Corps grants to tackle complicated medical problems around the world.

    "Rather than donate money to the cause, it was offering something different: employees who would take paid time-off to work pro bono, perhaps the world’s most valuable brain trust for number crunching and advanced computing," the article states.

    The result was a cloud-based platform called ChemoQuant, which helps health ministries track patient data to more precisely forecast current and future medical needs.

    "By quantifying and projecting their demand for meds, participating countries can now batch orders to receive volume-based discounts from pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and Cipla. When that medicine arrives, governments not only have a better idea of where to distribute it, they can also re-order in a way that preserves their price agreements. For doctors, IBM has created an app to direct patients to the closest (and cheapest) pharmacies that stock those medications. At that same time, the new partners created a treatment protocol that’s gained approval from both U.S. based authorities like the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and African health officials. IBM’s crack team turned that into free software, which will be available in November and provide doctors more guidance while collecting data for epidemiological studies."

    Click here to read more details about our partnership with CHAI, and our groundbreaking agreements with Pfizer Inc. and Cipla Inc. to expand access to 16 essential cancer treatment medications, including chemotherapies, in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

    More information on ChemoQuant can be found in this article featuring Sally Cowal, our senior VP, Global Cancer Control. 

  • Longtime ACS volunteer named to FDA's new Patient Engagement Advisory Committee

    Congratulations to Deborah Cornwall, a longtime ACS volunteer from Massachusetts, who was just named to a new U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee that will focus on patient-related issues. Its inaugural meeting is scheduled for Oct. 11-12, and the topic of conversation will be the challenges of clinical trial design, conduct, and reporting identified by patients.

    FDA chose this subject because patients often have concerns about participating in clinical trials, or drop out once they have enrolled in a trial. Inconsistent or minimal participation in clinical trials can make it difficult to reach reliable conclusions or to determine the level of benefit for patients. It also can take longer to bring technological advances to the patients who need them.

    Debbie, a cancer survivor, has been an ACS volunteer since 1994, serving in a variety of local, regional, and national roles. She currently serves as an Extramural Research Stakeholder reviewer on the Tumor Biology and Genomics committee, overseen by Extramural Program Director Lynne Elmore, PhD. Stakeholders are individuals without formal science or oncology training who serve on our peer review committees and help ensure that the voice of the patient and their families is part of the peer review process. 

    Debbie is a contributor to the Huffington Postwriting stories about cancer and health care. She's also the author of "Things I Wish I'd Known: Cancer Caregivers Speak Out," a book based on interviews with 95 cancer caregivers from 19 states and two Canadian provinces who cared for 117 patients ranging in age from two to 92. She was inspired to write the book by her interactions with cancer patients and caregivers at the Society’s AstraZeneca Hope Lodge Center in Boston. Professionally, she consults with boards of directors and CEOs on leadership, CEO succession, governance, and change issues as managing director of The Corlund Group LLC.

    The nine core voting members of the new committee, including the chair and the consumer representative, all have direct experience as a patient or as a care-partner for a patient. They are:

    • Paul Conway, chair – President of the American Association of Kidney Patients
    • Katherine Seelman, PhD, consumer representative – Retired from the University of Pittsburgh as Professor Emerita in 2016
    • Cynthia Chauhan, MSW – Served as a patient advocate for over 17 years. Served as an FDA patient representative for the National Mammography Quality Assurance Advisory Committee
    • Amye Leong, MBA – President and CEO of Health Motivations. Extensive patient advocacy history, communications specialist, health policy advisor, author
    • Monica Willis-Parker, MD – Director, Minority Engagement Core, Emory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
    • Frederick Downs, Jr., MBA – Decorated Vietnam veteran, retired from the Veterans Administration 
    • Bennet Dunlap, MS – Health communicator and advocate for people with diabetes, with experience in social media and marketing programs
    • Deborah Cornwall, MBA – Patient advocacy expert. She is a longtime leadership volunteer for the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
    • Suzanne Schrandt, JD – Director of patient engagement at the Arthritis Foundation
    • Kathryn O’Callaghan – Assistant director for Strategic Programs, FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health 
    • Jeffrey Shuren, MD, JD – Director of FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health

    The committee will be asked to advise on complex issues related to medical devices and their impact on patients. Its goal is to better understand and integrate patient perspectives into FDA's oversight, to improve communications with patients about benefits, risks, and clinical outcomes related to medical devices, and to identify new approaches, unforeseen risks or barriers, and unintended consequences from the use of medical devices.

    Federal legislation enacted in 2012 instructed FDA to solicit the views of patients during the medical product development process, and consider the perspectives of patients during regulatory discussion. 

  • Society awards $500,000 in grants to help reduce colorectal cancer disparities in American Indian and Alaska Native populations

    The American Cancer Society has awarded $100,000 in grants to five community health centers across the country to reduce colon cancer disparities in American Indian and Alaska Native populations through the Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) Grant Program.

    The grants are $100,000 each and span two years. The grantees are: 

    • Arctic Slope Native Association in Barrow, Alaska
    • Fond du Lac Services Division in Cloquet, Minnesota
    • Keweeenaw Bay Indian Community in Baraga, Michigan
    • Native Americans for Community Action in Flagstaff, Arizona
    • Riverside San Bernardino County Indian Health Inc. in Grand Terrace, California

    "CHANGE grants serve as a catalyst for partners to implement and sustain interventions to effectively engage and mobilize patients and implement systems and policies that are essential to increasing access to timely cancer screenings and appropriate follow-up," said Laura Makaroff, DO, our senior director, Cancer Control Intervention. "Racial and ethnic minority and uninsured individuals are more likely to develop cancer, and die from it, than the general U.S. population. The American Cancer Society is committed to addressing the unequal burden of cancer."

    Colorectal cancer is one of only two cancers that can be prevented through the detection and removal of precancerous lesions. Yet despite the disproportionate impact of the disease on the American Indian and Alaska Native population, screening rates remain low in these populations. 

    Since 2011, corporate funders have contributed $21.8 million to fund the American Cancer Society's CHANGE Grant Program. The primary goal of the CHANGE Grant Program is to increase cancer screening rates within communities experiencing cancer disparities. The Society has awarded more than 524 grants to community-based partners to implement evidence-based interventions that provide culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach and education to empower and mobilize the community to access screening resources and help ensure follow-up care is available.

    Since 2011, these grant recipients have reached individuals with more than 2.4 million outreach and education interventions and contributed to more than 795,000 breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer screening exams provided at low or no cost.

  • Leading national cancer groups release joint statement to chart the future of cancer health disparities research

    Four leading national cancer organizations have released a joint statement outlining a strategy to help all cancer patients benefit from cancer research, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or where they live. 

    The American Cancer Society, the American Association for Cancer Research, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the National Cancer Institute developed the strategy during a 2014 summit that included cancer research experts, health policy experts, and patient advocates.

    The statement acknowledges the way different populations in the U.S. are affected by cancer. Studies in the early 1970s began pointing out that black Americans had higher rates of death from certain cancers than white Americans. Over the decades, research showed differences in outcomes for other racial and ethnic groups. Research also looked at differences in access to care, the quality of care, the likelihood of getting cancer, and other health outcomes beyond death rates.

    The studies show that members of racial and ethnic minority groups, as well as people with low socioeconomic status, have worse cancer outcomes for a variety of reasons. These include access to health care, lifestyle factors, and genetic differences. According to the statement, the more these factors can be studied and understood, the more effectively they can be addressed.

    "We’re hoping we can focus oncology care and the oncology workforce such that it provides better care to all Americans. . . Ultimately, disparities mean people die when they don’t need to die. This is an attempt to make society in general and especially medical society focus on that fact,” said Otis Brawley, MD, our chief medical officer.

    The joint statement was published July 24 in the Journal of Clinical OncologyCancer ResearchCA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, and on the National Cancer Institute website. It identifies top priorities in cancer health disparities research and makes recommendations for the future.


    • Researchers should collect information about race, ethnicity, ancestry, immigration status, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, social status, demographics, and lifestyle factors for all research in all settings. The information should be self-reported by the patients, and not based on observation by the researcher.
    • Fund more research studies that focus on minority populations and ensure that members of minority populations are included in major research initiatives, including The Cancer Genome Atlas and the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot Initiative.
    • Include more samples from underserved populations in tumor tissue banks and other repositories that collect cancer specimens for research.
    • Expand mentoring efforts and other efforts aimed at improving workforce diversity in research and oncology fields.
    • Involve communities in research at the planning stages to promote deeper understanding of community needs, to engage community stakeholders in the goals of the research, and to increase minority participation in clinical trials.
    • “Each of our organizations has a unique set of views, skills, and resources,” said Brawley. “Our hope is that by speaking as one, we can bring a strong, unified approach and together strengthen all of our efforts in addressing one of the most pressing issues in cancer medicine today.”

      Leading national cancer organizations have released

    "Each of our organizations has a unique set of views, skills, and resources," said Dr. Brawley. "Our hope is that by speaking as one, we can bring a strong, unified approach and together strengthen all of our efforts in addressing one of the most pressing issues in cancer medicine today."

    For more on the Society’s work in this area, see Cancer Health Disparities Research on 

  • ACS leaders participate in national conference on long-term survivorship care

    Otis Brawley, MD, our chief medical officer, and Catherine Alfano, PhD, our VP of Survivorship, were in Washington, D.C. this week participating in a workshop titled "Long-term Survivorship Care after Cancer Treatment."

    The two-day conference examined progress in cancer survivorship care over the past decade, and considered potential actions to improve the planning, management, and delivery of cancer survivorship care. Here is the agenda

    Improvements in cancer treatment, new technologies that enable early detection of cancer, and changing demographics—including the aging of the baby boomer population—have contributed to a growing number of cancer survivors in the U.S. The number of people who are likely to live at least five years following a cancer diagnosis is expected to increase by 37 percent over the next decade, and approximately 40 percent of cancer survivors are living 10 years or more post diagnosis. In 2016, there were an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors nationwide; by 2022, the number of cancer survivors in the U.S. is projected to reach 18 million.  

    In 2006, an Institute of Medicine report, "Lost in Transition," made recommendations to improve the quality of care that cancer survivors receive, in recognition that this population is at ask risk for an array of long-term side effects and delayed-onset late effects of cancer and cancer treatment, as well as significant psychosocial and financial impacts of cancer diagnosis and treatment. 

    Workshop topics included: 
    • An overview of the health risks and late effects experienced by cancer survivors. 
    • The current evidence base to improve the quality of life for cancer survivors, including the identification, prevention, and reduction of long-term toxicities and second malignancies associated with prior cancer treatment.
    • Strategies for early integration of psychosocial support in survivorship care.Opportunities to overcome challenges in accessing health care and minimizing the financial burden for cancer survivors. 
    • Implementation models and emerging strategies for coordinated cancer survivorship care in primary and specialty care settings, including the use of survivorship care plans tailored to a patient’s diagnosis and life course. 
    • Changes in the landscape of cancer survivorship care over the past decade.

    The event was sponsored by the National Cancer Policy Forum of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, of which Dr. Brawley is a member. He is also an elected member of the over-arching National Academy of Medicine.

  • In a nearly 45-minute radio interview, our CEO Gary Reedy delivers a terrific primer on the American Cancer Society

    In a 43-minute, wide-ranging radio interview, our CEO Gary Reedy educated listeners on the history of the American Cancer Society, our research successes and goal to double our annual research investment to approximately $240 million by 2021, the new Cancer Control Blueprint we're constructing, and ways people can dramatically reduce their cancer risk – among many other things.  

    While encouraging listeners to use sunscreen, wear hats and sunglasses, and to avoid tanning beds, he revealed that a spot his dermatologist discovered on his forehead during his annual skin check in January turned out to be melanoma in situ (meaning it was contained in the epidermis and had not spread to deeper skin layers). "In three or four years it could have been an entirely different situation," he said. "If you see anything suspicious, get it checked out," he warned.

    On July 16, Gary was interviewed by Denver Frederick, the host of The Business of Giving program on 970AM The Answer, a radio station serving the New York metropolitan area. The broadcaster asked Gary about recent reorganizations, and Gary noted the elimination of positions. He praised the staff and said the Society is working to create a new culture that is proactive, inclusive, and nimble. "We have to be aggressive and take risks," he said. He also talked about Relay For Life, allowing communities to decide how best to help us, our advocacy efforts around health care, new partnerships, and his excitement about immunotherapy. He even got a plug in for and our 24/7 help line at 1.800.227.2345!

    The discussion is now a podcast on the The Chronicle of Philanthropy website, and a transcript accompanies it. It may help you tell the American Cancer Society story! (By the way, all staff have access to the The Chronicle of Philanthropy, where you can find the latest news on fundraising strategies and tactics.)

    Our history

    Here are a few other interesting facts (with a few more details added) that Gary shared about the Society that may be of particular interest to new volunteers:

    • The American Cancer Society was founded in 1913 by 10 doctors and five laypeople in New York City who wanted to raise awareness of cancer. It was called the American Society for the Control of Cancer (ASCC).
    • The Sword of Hope symbol in our logo came from a 1928 nationwide poster contest sponsored by the ASCC and the New York City Cancer Committee. George E. Durant of Brooklyn won the contest, receiving a first prize of $500. He selected the sword to express the crusading spirit of the cancer control movement. The twin-serpent caduceus, which forms the handle of the sword, emphasizes the medical and scientific nature of the Society's work. Classically, twined serpents represent healing of the sick and creativity of the healthy. 
    • In 1936, Marjorie G. Illig, an ASCC field representative and chair of the General Federation of Women's Clubs Committee on Public Health, proposed creating a legion of volunteers whose sole purpose was to wage war on cancer. The Women's Field Army, as this organization came to be called, was an enormous success. Its recruits donned khaki uniforms, complete with insignia of rank and achievement, and went door-to-door to raise money and educate the public.
    • In 1945, the ASCC was reorganized as the American Cancer Society. And, in 1946, philanthropist Mary Lasker and her colleagues helped raise more than $4 million for the Society – $1 million of which was used to establish and fund the Society's groundbreaking research program.
    • Since 1946, the American Cancer Society has invested more than $4.6 billion in research, recognizing and providing the funding 47 researchers needed to get started and go on to win the Nobel Prize.
    • The Society is proud to have contributed to the work that has resulted in a 25% drop in the overall cancer death rate in the United States. That drop equates to 2.1 million fewer cancer deaths between 1991 and 2014. 

  • 2017 St. George National Awardees announced

    ​The American Cancer Society is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 St. George National Award. This prestigious award recognizes outstanding volunteers who have demonstrated ongoing leadership in community mission delivery and/or governance and have significantly contributed to furthering the Society's strategic goals and mission-driven programs. These award winners have consistently represented the Society in a manner that advances our mission and expands our community presence, and have exhibited a continuing commitment to the Society through a willingness to serve.

    Detailed biographies can be found here.

    Since conceived in 1949 by Charles S. Cameron, MD, former Society medical and scientific director, the St. George National Award has been presented annually to ACS volunteers across the country.   

    This year, the St. George National Award was presented to 23 volunteers nationwide. These individuals were nominated by local staff and approved by the St. George National Award Task Force.

    The 2017 St. George National Award recipients are:  

    • Josephine "Josie" Abboud, RN, BSN, MBA, FACHE, Omaha, NE
    • Daniel S. Anderson, MD, FACP, San Diego, CA
    • Steve Bangert, Denver, CO
    • Pat Bruce, Roanoke, VA
    • James B. Conway, Woburn, MA
    • Víctor Delgado Colón, MD, Maniti, Puerto Rico
    • Karen Durham, Surprise, AZ
    • Grant Freeman, Newport Beach, CA
    • Patrick J. Geraghty, Jacksonville, FL
    • David W. Glidden, Wilbraham, MA
    • Kathleen H. Goss, PhD, Frankfort, IL
    • Carmen E. Guerra, MD, MSCE, FACP, Philadelphia, PA
    • Cindy Lombardo, Wayland, MA
    • Maureen G. Mann, MS, MBA, FACHE, Boca Raton, FL
    • Michael Marquardt. St. Petersburg, FL
    • Elizabeth Martin, San Diego, CA
    • Rick Q. Ngo, MD, FACS, Houston, TX
    • Lenora Pate, Birmingham, AL
    • Rhonda Pour, Freeburg, IL
    • T.J. Ryan, Idaho Falls, ID
    • Robianne Schultz, Perham, MN
    • Rebecca "Becki" Ward, Honolulu, HI
    • Jeanetta Wilson, Madison, AL

  • Iowa City Hope Lodge gets refreshed thanks to a crew of Walmart volunteers

    This past Saturday, July 15, more than 50 volunteers from 10 different Walmart stores in Iowa put in more than 250 cumulative hours sprucing up our Hope Lodge facilityin Iowa City. Some got up as early as 4 a.m. to make the drive.

    "There was an energy with this group that had a heart for service from the very beginning! They stripped, cleaned, and reassembled every bed in the building, shampooed all the carpets, scrubbed the floors, reorganized the library, took donations to Salvation Army, moved furniture, cleaned windows, bathrooms, and housekeeping closets, did paint touch-ups on all interior walls, weeded the garden, vacuumed and mopped, organized and sanitized the kitchen, removed shelving, and they even had the energy to grill for the guests!! It was a fantastic day," said Lynn Johnson, manager of the Hope Lodge.

    This was part of Walmart's Volunteerism Always Pays (VAP) program. Walmart wrote a grant through this program for our Hope Lodge to receive a $5,000 donation, as well! 

    The volunteers came from Walmart stores in Davenport, Davenport West, Muscatine, Clinton, Dubuque, Anamosa, Tipton, Maquoketa, Coralville, and Iowa City. 

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