Daily Herald American Cancer Society
ACS provides free assistance to cancer patients, families

Responding to the growing difficulties of accessing information, care and services for cancer patients in Illinois, the American Cancer Society is partnering with local health care providers to highlight a suite of complimentary patient services to assist people in need.

"Despite widespread advances in cancer prevention, detection and treatment, far too many people aren't getting the information and support they need to win their cancer battles," said Dr. Clement Rose, president of the American Cancer Society, Illinois Division. "We're opening up new doors and spreading the word that if you or someone you know is fighting cancer, we can help in remarkable - sometimes lifesaving - ways."

The Society forecasts that about 61,700 Illinoisans - or about 170 people on any given day - will be diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Conversely, because of the progress being made in cancer awareness and treatment, more people than ever before are beating cancer. Today the five-year survival rate in Illinois is 66 percent, up from 62 percent in 2004.

The Society has unveiled an integrated marketing campaign to tell the story of how it assists cancer patients with information, treatment, resources and services though its Patient Navigation Services program. Through a series of composite vignettes, new TV and radio ads promote various patient service offerings. The Society is also engaging as ambassadors the more than 100,000 volunteers who will support its 200-plus Relay For Life events that kick off in communities throughout Illinois this month.

"While cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was, positive outcomes depend on easy and early access to a wide range of information, services and resources," Dr. Rose explained.

"Patient Navigation Services make access to all kinds of help easier."

Through facility partnerships with more than 50 Illinois hospitals, as well as the Society's telephone call center with readily available cancer care specialists, people fighting cancer can get unparalleled access to information and services that complement what their doctors and hospitals provide.

The services include transportation assistance to treatments; discounted lodging at hotels for patients who need to travel to receive care; insurance coverage assistance; resource matching and referrals; and cosmetic help such as a free wig or headwear for patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy.

The Society also offers cancer information and access to support groups via its call center, accessible anytime at (800) ACS-2345.

Last year, about 16,000 new patients and caregivers benefited from these services. This year the Society hopes to assist 21,500 more people throughout the state.

"If not for the American Cancer Society's support, there's no way I would be here today," said Rita Denley, a cervical cancer survivor who benefited by receiving help in accessing insurance coverage as well as emotional support.

The American Cancer Society is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by saving lives, diminishing suffering and preventing cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. The Illinois Division has more than 120,000 volunteers and staff fighting cancer in the state.

For the most up-to-date cancer related information and to join the fight against cancer, call (800) ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.


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