2016 marks a number of firsts for Family Reach! We are celebrating our twentieth anniversary, we have expanded our network of hospitals to over 145 institutions nationwide, and this weekend at the national American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference we launched a Financial Handbook for cancer patients and their families (more to come on that soon!). As always, everything we do is driven by our desire to better serve the 10,000 people who turn to us each year for support, and the hundreds of thousands more who will face financial hardship as a result of a cancer diagnosis.
For twenty years, we have met thousands of families struggling with the financial burden of cancer, and have made it a priority to share their stories with the world. Each of these stories are unique. From the single mom who is living out of her car while her son is in-patient for a transplant, to the middle-class family who lost half their income and is trying to maintain payments to stay in their home. These are the faces of our mission.
Cancer can be a lonely journey. Families often feel isolated, and when it comes to talking about their financial hardship they feel afraid, uncomfortable and embarrassed. Over the past few years, we have seen data come to surface that highlights the true widespread nature of cancer’s financial burden. This data, while painful to read, helps us tell the story of what we already know: families struggling with financial hardship during cancer are not alone. They are everywhere, from every socioeconomic background, and something has to be done for them.
When I tell people what I do, a response I often hear is “Oh, that’s such a nice thing.” Yes. It is nice to provide financial relief to struggling families, but we know – and the data now proves – it is much more than that. One particular study from the Fred Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Outcomes Research demonstrates that patients who file bankruptcy as a result of cancer face a 79% greater risk of mortality than those who don’t. Financial assistance isn’t “a nice thing;” it is a critical and life-saving part of a cancer treatment plan.
Today, I am pleased to announce the publication of Family Reach’s first white paper: Survival at all Costs. This piece gathers much of the critical data recently published to put numbers behind our mission and behind each of the many individual stories we’ve seen for twenty years. We want to prove to families fighting cancer that you are not alone. We know that this needs to be a critical part of your cancer treatment and we are committed to making that happen.
This is the first in a number of new research efforts coming from Family Reach going forward. We are committed to sharing the facts and measuring our impact as we continue to expand our mission.