by Doug Ulman
– You can read the full report, “Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care” HERE
A Letter to the LIVESTRONG Foundation Supporters from Doug Ulman
I have some important news to share with you today.
In addition to providing direct services to improve the lives of people affected by cancer, one of the LIVESTRONG Foundation’s main activities over the last 15 years has been to try to ensure that people are supported, beyond just their medical needs, throughout the cancer continuum. Our goal has always been to elevate survivorship – helping people actively confront the disease and navigate the practical, emotional, financial and other challenges after a diagnosis – alongside scientific research and medicine. Our staff has worked tirelessly in the cancer community to elevate the voice of the patient, ensuring that they are cared for in a holistic manner.
The Foundation is proud to have served as co-sponsor, alongside many cancer organizations, on a landmark review just published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The report, “Delivering High-Quality Cancer Care: Charting a New Course for a System in Crisis,” highlights many big challenges ahead of us, but here are some of the IOM’s recommendations for improving care that align directly with the Foundation’s approach:
- Engaged patients: According to the report, “the cancer care system should support patients in making informed medical decisions that are consistent with their needs, values and preferences.” As many of you know, our approach has always been about making sure people have the knowledge they need to actively confront the disease, and our Navigation Services team provides excellent support on treatment options and other critically important information and resources.
- Accessible and affordable cancer care: The report also notes that “there are major disparities in access to cancer care among individuals who are of lower socio-economic status, are racial or ethnic minorities, lack health insurance coverage, and are older.” In addition to helping people understand and navigate their financial options, we have advocated strongly for policies that make affordable insurance options available to all people facing cancer, regardless of their background or situation. Soon, cancer patients and survivors who haven’t been able to afford insurance will have the opportunity to access it through the insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act, which we supported. We will be providing guidance on navigating the exchanges soon.
The hard work of the Foundation’s staff and supporters have championed and advanced patient-centered cancer care from the inception of our organization. We are thrilled to participate with others in the increasingly powerful movement advocating for patients, their loved ones and their caregivers.
Still, we have so much work left to do to improve cancer care. As the IOM report also notes, more than 1.6 million people receive cancer diagnoses each year. For these people, and the 14 million others who are living with the disease, the barriers to receiving quality care are still high. This is why we can’t rest. This is why we can’t give up hope.
I commit to you that we will keep fighting. I hope that you will share this news with people you know who are facing the disease now and commit to them that you’ll keep fighting too.