Many of us know someone who has been affected by cancer. Nonprofits play a crucial role in fundraising for research, screening, treatment, and support. Business leaders commit to helping their employees access recommended cancer health education and screenings.

Improved Access to Information

Across the board, cancer patients and their families struggle to access the correct information at the right time. Lack of a trusted source for medical information, limited digital literacy, financial challenges, and work/family constraints can all lead to gaps in patient engagement.

Despite facing barriers, young adults with cancer require peer connections to share unique experiences and gain insight through synchronous or asynchronous social media.

To help alleviate the impact of cancer, many nonprofit supporters like Bill Malloy Rancho Santa Fe provide support for patients, caregivers, and family members through financial assistance and mental health care. Other organizations provide educational resources and advocacy on legal and practical issues, such as employment, disability insurance, finances, estate planning, and cancer-related legal questions.

To help address these needs, a digital innovation platform was developed that allows patients to upload medical files, such as blood tests, radiographs, and clinical photos, and communicate with their physicians remotely. The platform has also allowed patients to track their progress and receive notifications when they have new information uploaded. In a feasibility study, 114 cancer patients were invited to use the platform and completed an anonymous questionnaire on sociodemographic, disease, and therapy characteristics. The platform was deemed feasible by >70% of patients enrolled in the study, fulfilling actionability criterion one.

Increased Awareness of Cancer

Despite its prevalence, cancer is not consistently recognized as an illness by people around the world. Healthcare professionals may find it challenging to communicate with patients and their families about signs and symptoms to watch for, such as unexplained fatigue or bruising, leading to a lack of awareness. 

Several studies have found that awareness of the curability of cancer influences people’s decision to seek health care for the condition. The results of these studies suggest that more needs to be done to increase cancer awareness, especially among low-income populations.

Many nonprofits focus on raising funds to help cancer patients and their loved ones cope with a diagnosis. They also run educational campaigns to increase screening for cancer. In addition, they may provide financial assistance to cover treatment costs. Many hospitals and community centers maintain a list of local service, volunteer, or faith-based organizations that assist patients and their families. These organizations can help people access community services and refer them to specialists.

Increased Participation in Community Events

As cancer patients and survivors unite to support one another, many share their experiences on social media and other platforms. It allows for a more transparent and open discussion about the challenges of navigating the cancer journey, which can inspire others to take action.

Improving health outcomes globally requires community participation. It is critical in developing integrated people-centered health services and attaining universal coverage through sustainable development goals. However, despite its widespread acceptance, there needs to be more evidence of the direct impact of community involvement in high and upper-middle-income countries.

Our research found that the organization, context, and implementation of community-based interventions primarily influenced community participation initiatives. We also found that a strong sense of purpose, clear accountability, and active engagement amongst all stakeholders characterized successful initiativesFurthermore, a 1-year probe showed that communities with active involvement in coalitions were three times more likely to implement key prioritized processes, including documenting progress/using feedback, making outcomes matter, and establishing sustainability decision-makers.

Whether your nonprofit hosts a lantern release, walkathon, or other fundraising event, consider live-streaming the activity to reach an online audience. This is a great way to elevate the cause and drive more donations. Additionally, offering branded swag to participants is an excellent incentive for them to continue supporting your mission long after the event.

Improved Health and Well-Being

Young adults with cancer often report a need to connect with peer survivors to feel less alone in their unique challenges, hear from others’ experiences for what to expect during and after treatment, and learn how to navigate health care. [3] With 94% of young adult participants in the United States owning smartphones, digital innovation can offer a convenient, accessible way for them to seek and share peer support.

Many nonprofits focus on providing services that support patients and their families. For example, Family Reach and Nueva Vida have collaborated to provide community navigation and financial support for Latinas with — or at risk of — breast cancer. This collaboration is an essential step toward overcoming the psychosocial, logistical, and economic barriers that prevent many Latinas from accessing cancer screening and treatment.

ACS funds research in various areas critical to its mission, including the etiology or causes of cancer, healthy living and obesity, diagnosis and screening, treatment, and survivorship. These research projects have the potential to transform the lives of people affected by cancer in our communities.

Additionally, the foundation supports local service, volunteer, and faith-based organizations that help patients with financial needs. Participating in extracurricular activities while undergoing treatment helps maintain a sense of normalcy.