LIVESTRONG Emphasizes Importance of Patient-Focused Cancer Care

By Melissa Stewart, Contributing Editor and Director of Navigation Services, The LIVESTRONG Foundation doi: 10.14229/ONCO.2014.4.16.001

Recently, an INC Magazine interview, asked, “What’s next for the LIVESTRONG Foundation?” I’m always invigorated by that question because, as the director of the Foundation’s navigation services, I know the need of those facing this disease and I know the impact of what we offer. With a staggering 32 million people around the world living with cancer today and the number of diagnoses expected to explode further in the next couple of decades, the work we do is more critical than ever. [1]

What we do at LIVESTRONG is advocate for and serve people currently living with cancer. The cornerstone of our work is providing free, direct, personalized support services for people navigating the physical, practical, emotional and financial challenges of having the disease.

...effectively dealing with cancer is about so much more than a myriad doctors’ appointments and treatments...

We have a range of programs and offerings that all fall under one umbrella: helping cancer patients and their loved ones with the decisions, challenges and hardships that they face, now. That means we aren’t looking for a cure for tomorrow and we aren’t funding the development of the next treatment or drug. And, as important as both those ambitious undertakings are, we are challenging communities to join us in calling for a rebalancing of resources so that more time and money goes to meeting the needs of people today and not only cures.

More than appointments and treatments
As many survivors know first-hand, and as those whom LIVESTRONG serves repeatedly tell us through our qualitative and quantitative research, effectively dealing with cancer is about so much more than a myriad doctors’ appointments and treatments. Cancer affects every aspect of a patient’s life, from finances to emotional health, fertility and also career options. It’s often these practical issues, where we see the biggest gaps in how the health care system serves patients.

So, “what’s next” means more innovative approaches that we hope are the creative engines of progress for others in the most pragmatic ways.

One of those approaches is a one-of-a-kind, social innovation challenge, called The Big C Competition, that LIVESTRONG is powering to bring about new products and services that will tangibly help people with cancer. That could be a new support program, an app, a piece of specialized clothing for cancer patients – anything that makes today easier for those affected by cancer.

Community Impact
Another example of how LIVESTRONG is seeking to scale our navigation services and reach more people is through our Community Impact Project. Since 2001, we have funded more than 600 programs nationwide based on community voting, helping millions of patients, survivors, families and caregivers affected by cancer from the moment of diagnosis through survivorship. This year we have three more great programs up for vote: The Jeffrey Frank Wacks Music Therapy Program, Pablove Shutterbugs and VitalHearts.

"Now what..?"
At LIVESTRONG, we strive to answer the question that is asked by the thousands of people diagnosed with cancer every day: “Now what?” We hope to answer the questions that can often go overlooked or unaddressed and to provide services to ease the burden of the daily challenges cancer patients and their loved ones face.

We are under no illusion that making the cancer care system more patient-focused will be easy. But there’s no question that it cannot be subsumed under as an adjunct to finding cures, as well. These are not mutually exclusive paths.

For more information
To learn more about LIVESTRONG’s patient-focused cancer services, please visit:

[1] Lapowsky I. Livestrong Without Lance. Inc Mag. April 1, 2014. Last Accessed April 9 2014.[Article]

Photo: Melissa Stewart, MSW, LCSW. Photo Courtesy: The LIVESTRONG Foundation

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