Empowering Patients Worldwide


Recently, I was able to sit down with Rebekkah Schear, LIVESTRONG?s Program Manager of the Global Mission, and discuss what LAF is doing to fight cancer on a global level. Since 2008, when LIVESTRONG announced in conjunction with the William J. Clinton Foundation, Rebekkah and her team have worked to fight those affected with cancer in developing countries such as Mexico and South Africa. LIVESTRONG?s Global mission is to go into countries that have little or no infrastructure, but have a significant population burdened by cancer, and provide the same kinds of services that the LIVESTRONG provides here in the United States.

As part of LIVESTRONG‘s Global Mission, Rebekkah is helping spearhead the Patient Empowerment Initiative, which gives cancer patients and survivors a voice in a debate that has historically been void of patient input. The goal of the Patient Empowerment Initiative is to support, at a country level, a comprehensive, survivor-informed National Call to Action which organizations and individuals are ready to promote. In conjunction with the Patient Empowerment Initiative, Rebekkah and her team is organizing programs called Patient Forums, which give cancer patients and survivors a voice in debates that are largely between policy makers and physicians, and thus lacking a pertinent personal experience to facilitate change.
In addition to the Patient Empowerment Initiative, Rebekkah is also working on a global anti-stigma campaign. Around the world the topic of cancer is met with hushed voices, morbid conversations and preconceived notion that cancer is simply a death sentence, a misconception that LAF simply will not stand for. Rebekkah?s research has uncovered people believe that ?cancer is not something to be talked about,? and quite often, that ?cancer is a death sentence.? One interviewee in Japan noted: ??when people say ?cancer?..if you get it, isn?t it that you?re going to die soon??

Rebekkah?s work at LAF is invaluable for those fighting cancer globally. It is her ambition that by 2015, LAF?s reach will encompass 10+ developing countries, in addition to the work that we do here in the United States. To see my full interview with Rebekkah below, or for more information regarding Rebekkah?s work go to www.livestrong.org

Untitled from LIVESTRONG on Vimeo.


  1. Patti P says:

    Cancer stigma?

    My husband has lung cancer. We had to refinance our home in the middle of treatment so we could pay for treatment. The refinance closing was literally in the middle of treatment. Closing at 10am, transfusion at hospital at 11:30.

    The stigma? At the ‘closing’ table with lender & title company, they kept peeking nervously at my husband because he had no hair (he covered with baseball cap).

    The lender did not come out and say, but her nervous looks couldn’t hide: “are they a bad credit risk because this guy looks like he has cancer?”

    They asked what we were using the refinance cash out for. I immediately replied: “liposuction” which stopped the query in its tracks and added nervous laughter to room.

    The lender still did not ask “cancer?”, but would not release the cash-out from refinancing on the day of closing until triple checked with my husband’s employer that he was still employed.

    So stigma. You bet. Even sadder, the lender was a friend and has not spoken to us since. Bald heads don’t sit well at the closing table.

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