As Doug mentioned in the April 4th blog, the LAF Board of Directors met today. The LAF is fortunate to have an amazing Board of Directors that includes cancer survivors, physicians and leaders in the business community. The LAF Board provides invaluable support and guidance to help ensure that we meet the needs of cancer survivors around the world.
One of these distinguished members is Dr. Harold Freeman. Dr. Freeman has spent his life working to reduce the disparities among people affected by cancer. As a surgeon in Harlem, he discovered that poor black people were dying from cancer at higher rates. Many of the women he saw presented with advanced and incurable stages of breast cancer. He determined that poverty, not race, was the cause of the low survival rates. After years of research, Dr. Freeman developed the Patient Navigation model that helps individuals from low income families understand and access the healthcare system in a supportive and timely manner.
A few years ago Dr. Freeman, with the help of Ralph Lauren, founded the Ralph Lauren Center in Harlem, NY. The center uses unique approaches to reaching the community.
I had the opportunity to work with a group of Patient Navigators when I worked for the Alabama Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (try saying that 5 times in a row). I saw firsthand the success of the Patient Navigation model and had the opportunity to hear Dr. Freeman speak at the Deep South Network for Cancer Control annual meeting in 2004. He has done amazing work in the field of cancer control and I dream of having as much of an impact on the lives of individuals as he has.