This Friday, February 4, marks World Cancer Day—a global initiative to reimagine a world where lifesaving cancer care is accessible to all. Virtually all of us have been touched by cancer—whether through our own struggles or those of loved ones. 

Fortunately, we live in an era of remarkable advancements in cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. But far too often, people who have been diagnosed with cancer face tremendous obstacles in getting the care they need. One of the greatest barriers is rising healthcare costs. The National Cancer Institute reported that in 2019, the patient cost of cancer care in the U.S. was more than $21 billion. The figure includes over $16 billion in out-of-pocket spending and nearly $5 billion in patient time costs as they traveled, waited for, and received care. This financial toxicity not only places a huge economic burden on patients and their families, but also leads to treatment nonadherence and poorer health outcomes. One study found that cancer patients who declared bankruptcy had a 79% greater risk of death than those who had not.

The theme of this year’s World Cancer Day, “Close the Care Gap,” speaks to the urgent need to address these financial barriers. At TailorMed, we’re on a mission to do just that. Partnering with leading healthcare organizations, we harness the power of technology to proactively identify financially at-risk patients and help secure the resources they need to afford care for cancer and many other chronic conditions.

Every day, we’re fortunate to work with nonprofit organizations that provide vital funding to cover treatment costs, living expenses, and more. In honor of World Cancer Day, we’re proud to shine a light on six charities that offer a lifeline to cancer patients and their families:

1. The American Cancer Society

Since 1946, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has invested more than $5 billion in cancer research, but the organization also provides many forms of support to people with cancer. Its programs to help with cancer-related expenses include Hope Lodge, offering families a free place to stay when treatment is far from home, and Road to Recovery, providing transportation to and from hospitals and clinics. Through its advocacy work, ACS is expanding access to care for underinsured and uninsured Americans and addressing a range of disparities. “We’re committed to health equity,” says Alice L. Pomponio, Managing Director of ACS’s impact venture capital fund, BrightEdge. “No one should be disadvantaged in their fight against cancer because of their financial circumstances. That’s why we’re doing our part to remove financial barriers, reduce healthcare costs, and save more lives.”

2. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) offers an array of financial assistance programs for people facing blood cancer. LLS’s Co-pay Assistance Program provides resources toward insurance premiums (private, Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE), as well as co-pays and co-insurance for prescription drugs, labs, and more. Since its founding, LLS has provided more than $431 million in co-pay assistance. The organization also helps offset nonmedical expenses through its Patient Aid, Susan Lang Pay-It-Forward Patient Travel Assistance, and Urgent Need Programs. 

3. The Pink Fund

The Pink Fund provides 90-day nonmedical cost-of-living expenses to breast cancer patients in active treatment. These critical funds help with basic needs and cover costs for housing, insurance, and more, so that qualifying patients can focus on healing. The organization was founded by breast cancer survivor Molly MacDonald after her own diagnosis sent her family into financial distress. Since 2006, the Pink Fund has provided more than $5.4 million in financial aid on behalf of breast cancer survivors nationwide. 

4. CancerCare

For more than 75 years, CancerCare has provided free support services and information to help manage the emotional, practical, and financial challenges of cancer. CancerCare’s Co-Payment Assistance Foundation offers funding for treatment co-pays and covers many forms of cancer. Its Financial Assistance Program helps defray patient costs ranging from transportation to childcare to pet care. The CancerCare website also features A Helping Hand, a searchable database of local and national financial resources. 

5. Remember Betty

Founded by New Kids on the Block member Danny Wood in memory of his mother, Remember Betty is dedicated to easing the financial burden of breast cancer. The organization provides grants that fall under several cost categories, including medical bills, mortgage or rent, and lymphedema support garments. Patients do not need to be in active treatment to be considered for assistance. Grant applications are reviewed on a monthly basis. 

6. Family Reach

With a mission of removing cost barriers for cancer patients and their families, Family Reach provides free wrap-around services including financial education, navigation, and coaching. Families may also apply for emergency relief grants to cover living expenses—from groceries to treatment-related lodging. Partnering with over 500 hospitals and cancer centers nationwide, Family Reach has distributed more than $19 million to families in need. 

These organizations are just a few of the many that are dedicated to improving access to care. We’re also proud to partner with the PAN Foundation, the Assistance Fund, HealthWell, the Patient Advocate Foundation, and Good Days, which provide crucial resources to people with cancer and a host of other conditions. In addition, we look forward to upcoming conferences hosted by the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) and the Community Oncology Alliance (COA), both of which are committed to making care more affordable.

To Close the Care Gap, Remove Financial Barriers

World Cancer Day is a time to honor the millions of lives lost to cancer across the globe. As we celebrate significant scientific progress in the fight against cancer, we also acknowledge the work that remains to ensure these breakthroughs benefit everyone, everywhere.

To turn this vision into reality, we must commit to removing financial barriers to care. Beyond foundation grants, aid from smaller, local organizations, manufacturer co-pay assistance, and providers’ internal financial assistance programs are among the key resources available to patients and families. Providers and pharmacies owe it to their patients to help them access the full range of cost-saving opportunities. By coming together to alleviate the economic burden, we can help shape a world in which every person who faces cancer has the best possible chance of surviving—and thriving.

TailorMed Editorial Team