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Thank you, volunteers! Thanks to your support, we can do great things

Volunteers always have been and always will be the heart of the American Cancer Society.

Because of dedication and time commitment of our passionate army of volunteers, we are able to help patients get the treatment they need and be there for families when they need us most.

The pandemic posed serious impediments to our fundraising this past year, but our amazing volunteers went virtual with creative online fundraisers. You awed us! And, we can't wait to resume our in-person events once it's safe to do so.

So this week, National Volunteer Week and really, every single day, we take stock of how lucky we are to have volunteers as passionate about our mission to save lives from cancer as you are.

We simply could not do all we do without you. Our volunteers come  in all ages, from kids to retirees, and they do so much - from steering our mission as members of our Board of Directors to planning Relay For Life events in their communities and on their college campuses to driving patients to treatment and serving dinners in our Hope Lodge around the country. That doesn't begin to scratch the surface of all they do.

Because of our volunteers, the American Cancer Society is a trusted source of information about cancer, and people turn to us 24/7, 365 days a year for information and guidance. Our live helpline is available to all at 1.800.ACS.2345.

And becauses of our volunteers, the American Cancer Society is able to fund research that could lead to the next big cancer breakthrough. Simply said, our volunteers help save lives, every day. What could be more meaningful?

So, today and every day, we say 'thank you' from all of us at the American Cancer Society and all the people we serve.  


  • New report highlights ACS CAN's 2020 wins

    Also available is a new infographic in both English and Spanish.

    The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Advocacy Accomplishments Report 2020 is now available.

    The report highlights ACS CAN's incredible accomplishments over the past year despite the tremendous difficulties posed by COVID-19.

    The 2020 report is available in a new digital format that is more visual and interactive. It can be accessed at fightcancer.org/accomplishments. An accessible version of the report is available, as well.

    In addition to the annual report, an infographic is available in both English and Spanish.

    Please share the Advocacy Accomplishments Report 2020 with colleagues, fellow volunteers, partners, family, and friends to help underscore the critical importance of advocacy in the continued fight against cancer.  
     


  • Reach To Recovery website and app now in Spanish

    ​Creative assets and a paid promotional campaign is coming in May.

    To better support the needs of those facing breast cancer, the Reach To Recovery® program fully transitioned to a digital first approach earlier this year. 

    Since the program launched, more than 300 volunteers have been trained, and more than 1,700 patients have created a Reach To Recovery profile. Based on program surveys, patients report a 96% satisfaction rating.

    Now, we are excited to share that the Reach To Recovery website and mobile app are available to patients in Spanish.

    The Reach To Recovery website and app allow those facing breast cancer to create an online profile and see possible volunteer matches immediately. Patients who want to connect with a Spanish-speaking volunteer can indicate that preference when creating their profile.

    Patients and volunteers can connect through online chat, phone, or exchanging messages. Video chat will also be available through the Reach To Recovery website and app later this year. 

    Patients can access Reach To Recovery by visiting reach.cancer.org. To view the site in Spanish, patients should select “Spanish” from the language drop top at the top of the page. They can also search for ‘ACS Reach To Recovery’ on Google Play or the App Store to download the app. 

    Volunteers should visit the Volunteer Community to complete Reach To Recovery volunteer training prior to registering online. Then, they will receive a unique invitation to create their online volunteer account.

    Here’s what patients are saying about the program:

    • “It was super helpful to have tips for managing all the overwhelming to do list after my diagnosis. It was also helpful to talk to someone with a husband and how they managed the diagnosis as a couple.”
    • “It was wonderful to connect with someone under 40 and able to discuss the unique challenges of the diagnosis.”
    • “[The volunteer] provided the emotional support I needed and discussed a little more information about her own journey with cancer, so I felt much less alone after the call.”

    Additional resources coming soon

    Creative assets in English and Spanish will be available in May to help volunteers and staff promote the Reach To Recovery website and app. We’ll also launch a media campaign to drive broader awareness of and engagement with the program.


  • Five new ECHO series launching in Q2

    The first one, beginning April 27, focuses on racial disparities.

    The American Cancer Society is excited to announce the launch of the Disparities Reducing ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), which will bring recipients of three ACS and Pfizer-funded grant opportunities on Breast Health Equity, Addressing Racial Disparities in Cancer Care, and Prostate Cancer Disparities together to discuss relevant disparities-reducing topics and provide an opportunity for learning and networking.  

    The series is set to launch Tuesday, April 27. ACS staff supporting the projects are invited to attend. 

    This is first of five ECHO series to launch through June 2021Additional series are focused on increasing HPV vaccination in UtahWyoming, and northern Texas, and increasing lung cancer biomarker testing in Georgia, Kentucky, and Mississippi.  

    For more information about these ECHO series, please contact the leads listed below: 

    • Back to School HPV ECHO – Hannah Nein, senior program manager, Rocky Mountain Area HPV 
    • Disparities Reducing ECHO – Karla Wysockisenior director, Clinical Interventions 
    • Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing ECHO – Kelly Durdendirector, Clinical Trials Roundtable 
    • Mission: HPV Cancer Free Texas Vaccination ECHO – Community Health Worker Clinic (including one English-language and one Spanish-language series) – Tralisa Hallprogram manager, HPV Cancer Free Texas 
    • Mission: HPV Cancer Free Texas Vaccination ECHO – Medical Clinic – Tralisa Hallprogram manager, HPV Cancer Free Texas 

    You can find more information about how ACS is using the ECHO model to fight cancer by visiting echo.cancer.org. There you will find information about past and ongoing ECHO series, including recordings, resources, and more! 

    What is Project ECHO? 

    Project ECHO is a virtual hub-and-spoke telementoring environment founded by Dr. Sanjeev Arora at the University of New Mexico. Hubs include a facilitator and expert faculty who share best practices and contribute to learning through case-based and didactic learning. Spokes learn from each other and experts from across the United States. 

    ACS launched its first ECHO in 2018 related to lung cancer patient support. Since then, 17 ACS-led ECHOs have focused on colorectal cancer treatment, increasing HPV vaccination and lung cancer screening rates, increasing access to smoking cessation resources, the impact of COVID-19 on cancer care teams and caregivers, and increasing organizational capacity in cancer-fighting organizations in Kenya and Uganda. 

    For more information about ECHO, please contact Richard Killewald, director, Cancer Control Interventions, Kristen Wehling, director, Interventions & Special Projects, or visit the Project ECHO Society Source page.


  • ACS partners with Fathead

    Proceeds from cancer ribbon decals support our mission.

    The American Cancer Society is proud to partner with Fathead on the Colors of Cancer Ribbons

    These removable wall decals recognize the many types of cancer impacting those around us. Staff can help us spread the word by sharing the approved social media post on local or regional channels. Find the social media copy here.

    100% of the proceeds from these ribbons will be donated to ACS.

    Fathead is a brand name of life-sized, precision-cut vinyl wall graphics manufactured by Fathead LLC. Fathead LLC is a privately held company based in Detroit, Michigan. The ownership group is led by Dan Gilbert, who is chairman and founder of Quicken Loans, and also majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers.


  • Hardship common in survivors of AYA cancers

    As AYA cancers increase, understanding ongoing hardships is critical.

    A new study published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) finds higher medical financial hardship in adult survivors of adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancers than in adults without a history of cancer in the U.S.

    Experts have known that cancer and its treatment can cause significant financial hardship to cancer survivors and their families. However, the long-term economic implications for adult survivors of AYA cancers were not fully understood.

    In this study, investigators led by Amy D. Lu, MD, The Hospital for Sick Children, and Zhiyuan “Jason” Zheng, PhD, American Cancer Society, used data from the National Health Interview Survey (2010-2018) and analyzed responses from adult (>18 years) survivors of AYA cancers (ages 15-39 at diagnosis) and adults without a cancer history. The study explored the various aspects of financial hardships including material (for example, ability to pay bills), psychological (for example, worries about medical bills), and behavioral (for example, delaying or foregoing medical care) measures.

    Key study findings include:

    • Adult survivors of AYA cancers were more likely than adults without a cancer history to report material and behavioral financial hardship, including problems paying medical bills or delaying or forgoing care because of cost.
    • Adult survivors of AYA cancers were more likely to report greater intensity of medical financial hardship than their counterparts without a cancer history.
    • Adult survivors of AYA cancers were more likely to report cost-related medication non-adherence, such as skipping medication doses, taking less medication, and delaying filling a prescription to save money.

    “Multiple aspects of financial hardship associated with a cancer diagnosis may last for many years for survivors of AYA cancers,” said Dr. Zheng.

    As the incidences of AYA cancers increase, understanding the spectrum of medical financial hardship is critical to those caring for and designing policies for adult survivors of AYA cancers, and in guiding ongoing research in this area.

    “Healthcare providers can help support increased awareness and assessment of financial hardship, as well as subsequent connection to existing financial and vocational assistance/support services. State and federal policies may have a broader impact through implementation of provisions of the Affordable Care Act in increasing insurance coverage options including affordability and accessibility,” said the authors.


  • ACS names Karen Knudsen, MBA, PhD, as its next CEO

    Dr. Knudsen, currently the  leader of a prestigious cancer center, will be the 107-year-old organization's first female CEO.

    Karen E. Knudsen, MBA, PhD, will be the next chief executive officer of the American Cancer Society (ACS) and its sister advocacy affiliate, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), starting June 1, 2021. She will take the reins from the retiring Gary Reedy, who has served as both organizations' CEO since 2015. 

    The hiring of a female CEO signals a new era for ACS, where all of its past top leaders were men, even though its Women's Field Army is credited with building what became the modern American Cancer Society. Dr. Knudsen will also be the first scientific and oncology researcher to serve in the top staff position since 1945.

    Dr. Knudsen currently serves as executive vice president of Oncology Services and enterprise director for the Philadelphia-based Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health, one of only 71 National Cancer Institute-Designated Cancer Centers recognized for its research and impact on cancer outcomes.

    She also holds leadership roles with some of the most important cancer entities in the nation. She is the president of the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI), where her platform has focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and serves on the board of directors for the American Association of Cancer Research and the board of advisors for the National Cancer Institute. She is active in committees for the American Society for Clinical Oncology, in addition to serving on other academic and for-profit advisory boards.

    Dr. Knudsen holds a bachelor's degree in biology from the George Washington University; a PhD in biological sciences from the University of California San Diego; and an MBA from Temple University Fox School of Business.

    "Dr. Knudsen is exactly what the American Cancer Society needs right now," said John Alfonso, CPA, chair of the American Cancer Society Board of Directors. "She is an accomplished researcher, innovative healthcare executive, dynamic leader of a prestigious cancer center, and true thought leader in the fight against cancer nationwide."

    Dr. Knudsen expects to spend a great deal of time initially listening to and learning from the American Cancer Society's various stakeholders, but she's also eager to get to work with volunteers and staff to shape the vision and deliver tangible results. 

    "As director of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Health, I've experienced firsthand how the American Cancer Society improves the lives of cancer patients and their families through discovery, advocacy, and direct patient support," Dr. Knudsen said. "I share the Board of Directors' vision to ensure that ACS's impact benefits all people throughout the nation. With creativity, innovation, and novel partnerships, we will accelerate the mission and save lives."

    Dr. Knudsen will also serve as CEO of ACS CAN, which advocates for evidence-based public policy change to make cancer a top nationwide priority. As an NCI-funded researcher and the head of a major cancer research institution, she knows firsthand the critical role government plays in saving more lives from cancer. AACI, for which Knudsen currently serves as president, is also an important voice in advocating for funding for cancer research and access to care, including patient access to research innovations. AACI is a member of the One Voice Against Cancer Coalition, founded by ACS CAN in 2000 to bring public health organizations together to advocate for greater federal investments in cancer research.

     


  • $1M grant will help fight cancer in at-risk communities

    With help from The Links, this collaboration aims to increase awareness of breast and colon cancer screenings.

    Cancer is a disease that affects everyone, but not equally. Studies indicate that Black Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers. 

    For the next year, ACS and the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., have committed to address the unequal burden of cancer by delivering cancer prevention and early detection information and resources in at-risk communities.

    Backed by a $1 million grant from Anthem, the collaboration will work to increase awareness of breast and colon cancer screening. The programming is anticipated to reach up to 10,000 people.

    "The risk factors for Black Americans impacted by breast and colon cancer is alarming and the work to improve early detection must include a focus on eliminating health barriers if we are going to challenge the status quo," said Shantanu Agrawal, MD, chief clinical officer at Anthem, Inc. "This is one more way we are working to foster an open dialogue in our at-risk communities and help to provide residents with access to tools and healthcare resources dedicated to early cancer screenings that will help further our goal to eliminate health disparities." 

    To help initiate and promote the conversations and group informational sessions, we have engaged The Links Foundation, Incorporated to train approximately 500 ACS/Links Health Ambassadors who will play a critical role in providing local resources to individuals and encourage them to seek care at community health centers.

    “The Links are trusted messengers across the country with a commitment to community service and advancing public health,” said Tawana Thomas-Johnson, our vice president, Diversity and Inclusion.

    The importance to reach and influence members within the Black community comes at a critical time. Research done by ACS shows that Black men are 1.2 times more likely to have new cases of colon cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic White men, and death rates among Black women diagnosed with breast cancer are approximately 40% higher than White women.

    "The statistics surrounding cancer and people of African descent are disheartening. We not only have the highest mortality rate, but when compared to other racial and ethnic groups, our survival of most cancers has the shortest window," said Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, PhD, national president of The Links, Incorporated and The Links Foundation, Incorporated. "Our organization exists to serve the community, and part of our service efforts are targeted at addressing cancer disparities and driving health equity in all communities touched by cancer. This grant from Anthem Foundation will allow us to continue transforming communities through community outreach and education," she added.

    About Anthem Foundation

    The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. Through strategic partnerships and programs, the Foundation addresses the social drivers that will help create a healthier generation of Americans in communities that Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on critical initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts, and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100% match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit anthem.foundation and its blog at medium.com/anthemfoundation.

    About The Links Foundation, Incorporated

    The Links Foundation, Incorporated has contributed more than $25 million to charitable causes since its founding. In 2018, it named its fifth $1 million grantee – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Other million- dollar grantees include the United Negro College Fund, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the National Civil Rights Museum, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American Culture and History in Washington, D.C.

    About The Links, Incorporated

    The Links, Incorporated is an international, not-for-profit corporation established in 1946. Its membership consists of more than 16,000 professional women of color in 292 chapters in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom. Links members contribute more than 1 million documented hours of community service annually. For more information, visit linksinc.org


  • Join ACS CAN's 10th annual National Forum on the Future of Health Care

    On April 27, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. ET, ACS CAN will host its 10th annual National Forum on the Future of Health Care. 

    This year’s event, which will take place during National Minority Health Month, will focus on breaking down barriers to care for all people with cancer. Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS, chair of the U.S. COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, will be the keynote speaker.

    This free, virtual event is open to the public. Please register at www.fightcancer.org/nationalforum and feel free to share the link with others.

    While the Affordable Care Act has helped more people with cancer access the health care services they need to treat their disease, barriers to care continue to exist for them. Disparities in access to screenings, coverage and treatment are commonplace in the health care system. 

    The forum will provide an opportunity for leaders in industry, government, patient advocacy, research and development, and technology to discuss exciting new approaches to breaking down the barriers that prevent people with cancer, especially those who have experienced inequities in care, from fully accessing new and innovative screening, treatment and clinical trials.

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