Cancer may not discriminate but racial discrimination in the health care system has a profound impact on the lives of Black cancer patients. In the United States, Black cancer patients have the highest death rate and the lowest survival rate of any racial or ethnic group for most cancers. This is unacceptable.
Nationally, the Cancer Support Community has been working to address issues of inclusion and access to health care by advocating for:
• Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and working against restrictions on coverage that leave many patients who are most vulnerable without access to care.
• Health Equity and Accountability Act, the only legislation that directly addresses long-standing health disparities that are now being exposed by the pandemic.
• Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act of 2019, which aims to increase access to and improve cancer clinical trial participation among communities that are traditionally underrepresented in trials.
Locally, CSC is focusing on improving access to support services in underserved communities by:
• Opening a satellite office in Antioch, an area that suffers from high rates of cancer morbidity and mortality while also lacking critical services.
• Creating a program to provide emergency financial assistance to low income cancer patients and assistance with transportation to the center.
• Providing programs in English and Spanish.
But we have to do more. If the mission of Cancer Support Community is to support all people facing cancer in our community to become healthier, live longer and live better then we need to address how racial injustice in the healthcare system impacts survivorship and quality of life. The Board of Directors and staff are committed to continuing our efforts to promote access, equality and justice in our organization and in the cancer community. We welcome your suggestions and support.
Rob Tufel, MSW, MPH
Chief Executive Officer