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From the CEO: It’s a Really Bad Time to Have Cancer

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The world is united by a common thread these days. Anxiety, job loss, food insecurities, and isolation have crept into our daily lives. These frightening realities are nothing new to cancer patients and their families.

While the rest of us struggle to accept and manage the many fallouts of COVID-19, cancer patients face an additional set of threats that are far more dangerous. Their immunocompromised bodies – their lives – are increasingly in jeopardy in this uncertain, toxic environment. What’s worse, this new normal creates obstacles blocking their access to lifesaving cancer treatment. COVID-19 is not only a higher health risk to cancer patients, but where COVID-19 is severe, it’s brought cancer care to a screeching halt.

Take 5-year-old, Johnny, whose latest round of neuroblastoma treatment was canceled by his oncologist due to a coronavirus outbreak at his treatment facility in NYC. While his team worked to find an alternate option, Johnny ended up in the local ICU due to complications from interrupted treatment.

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Cancer hero Johnny

Patients like Johnny can’t self-quarantine or adhere to travel bans. If they do, they miss treatment. But going to treatment means taking a greater risk by walking into hospitals, COVID-19 hot spots, only to find skeleton oncology staff available to meet their many needs.

Healthcare workers across the country are scrambling to respond to the havoc brought on by COVID-19 in their facilities. Doctors, nurses, and social workers are pulled from the oncology department to meet the critical need of COVID-19 patients, leaving cancer patients without routine appointments, surgeries, or psychosocial guidance. Oncology social workers play a critical role in connecting patients with resources to keep them afloat and on treatment. Today, those ties are cut.

The COVID-19 pandemic is delivering a knockout punch to people with cancer. One that has only strengthened my resolve and my mission as CEO of Family Reach, a national nonprofit dedicated to meeting non-medical needs of cancer patients and their families.

Cancer doesn’t recognize what COVID-19 is doing to the healthcare system, but Family Reach does. We’re pivoting our programs and adding new ones to support the cancer community, including healthcare providers and patients, in their darkest hours. Through a new web-based application, we’re fast tracking cancer patients affected by COVID-19 to connect them with our Resource Navigators when they cannot connect with an oncology social worker. Our team offers resources that give them a fighting chance against COVID-19 and cancer. As if cancer wasn’t hard enough…

We can’t do this alone. The message to the cancer community needs to be loud and clear and needs to come from all angles: We See You. We’re all looking forward to getting to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic – let’s make sure we bring as many cancer patients with us as humanly possible.

Join our #WeSeeYou campaign to let cancer patients know they are not alone.

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Carla Tardif
Chief Executive Officer • Family Reach Team

Running enthusiast, patient advocate, and CEO of Family Reach, Carla Tardif is a spirited leader who isn’t afraid to go the distance. She’s been leading the charge against the financial burden of cancer for over 15 years, making tangible impacts for cancer patients and their families through innovative solutions and collaboration.

Read more from Carla.

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