What you need to know about the King v. Burwell decision

PolicyLogoThe Cancer Support Community applauds the decision issued by the Supreme Court today, which ensures that millions of Americans will not lose access to their health care coverage. In its decision, the court ruled against the challengers in King v. Burwell, a landmark case that would have had a devastating impact on millions of people who receive health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

King v. Burwell called into question a small phrase in the ACA which says that subsidies will be made available to people buying health insurance on the state-established exchanges, or marketplaces. The plaintiffs in the case argued that this phrase should not apply to people purchasing insurance on the federal exchange–which is currently used by 34 states and more than 7.5 million people.

Had the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, millions of people who receive their health insurance through the federal exchange would have lost access to their subsidies. This would have resulted in a drastic increase in health insurance cost for millions of Americans.

As a result of the ACA, there has been an increase in the number of insured Americans. Without much-needed subsidies, it was expected that many people would have lost their insurance, impacting not just their own coverage, but also the costs for all people in the system.

The Cancer Support Community believes that all people should have access to high quality, affordable, comprehensive cancer care that includes medical care as well as social and emotional support.

If you would like to receive updates on important policy news or to become an advocate on Capitol Hill and in your state and local legislatures, join our advocacy network today.

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Make this a #CSCEmpower-ing Summer

beautiful young blonde short hair hipster woman selfie

How much of a difference can someone make in a month?

That’s the question we’re asking you this July. For one month, CSC will be displaying a banner in a window at Rockefeller Plaza, New York to inform people of the free services CSC offers to people affected by cancer.

The banner reads, “Everyone knows someone touched by cancer. I am a…” to show how no matter where we live or who we are, there is one experience that is universal: we’ve all known someone affected by cancer that has needed support, and we’ve all wanted to help them.

Now, you have the power to make an actual difference in your loved ones’ lives. The more people know about the resources CSC provides, the more we can help ease the physical and emotional toll that cancer takes.

That is why for the month of July, we’re inviting you to upload a photo to CSC’s Facebook or Tweet a picture of yourself and your connection to cancer by filling in the blank: I am a ________, along with the hashtag #CSCEmpower. Because when everyone knows someone affected by cancer, we are all empowered to show our loved ones they are not alone.

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It could be something as simple as “I am a daughter, and I support my mom. #CSCEmpower” or “I am a friend of Theresa, my hero. #CSCEmpower.” Not only does this show how much you care, it tells them about an organization which offers hundreds of services to those affected by cancer.

We believe in the power of paying it forward, so much so that as an added bonus, anyone who tweets about the CSC window qualifies for a chance to win a CSC swag bag! We want to reward the altruist in you, so anyone who shares their connection to cancer with the hashtag #CSCEmpower is entered for a chance to win.

So how much of a difference can someone make in a month? All the difference in the world!

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What you need to know when you attend your first support group

sledge.posterToday’s guest blog is from Renata Sledge, MSW, LCSW. Renata is the Program Director for the Cancer Support Community of Greater St. Louis.

“I walked into group knowing I needed to feel not so alone, but not sure that group was what I wanted.  The first person I saw asked me how I was…I knew she really wanted to know and so I told her.”  -CSC Group Participant

Fiesta Saturday 1Stepping into a group for the first time is both brave and humble.  As a new group member, you are coming to hold the feelings and experiences of your group members, while also letting them hold your feelings and story.  It’s normal to feel anxiety about what to expect, but people are often surprised at how comfortable they feel even if they never saw themselves as a “support group” kind of person. Hearing the stories of others who get it from the inside out can be a validating and reassuring experience.

It is not uncommon to take a little a bit of time to warm up to group.  We recommend group members attend at least three sessions in order to get a feel for the “energy” of the group.  Support groups work best when members are open about their concerns, even the concern that attending group does not appear to be helping– but you have a right to be cautious while you get your bearings, and it’s important that you feel safe before you share information and feelings. People who are willing to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings tend to receive a greater benefit from group than those who do not. The support group can be a place where you do not have to pretend, hold back or feel you have to protect others from your fears and anxieties. Participate actively in your group but at your own pace. Warming up to new people can take time. If simply getting there and listening works for you, then start with that and get comfortable.

CSC Beading Program HandsSupport groups through the Cancer Support Community’s Affiliate Network are facilitated by a licensed, clinical, professional therapist.  The Cancer Support Community group facilitators will provide structure and a safe, compassionate environment in which group members can connect with one another in productive and meaningful ways.  The facilitator will share in the discussions as appropriate and include some of their personal views, feelings and concerns.  However, each individual is considered the expert on his or her cancer experience.  You know about your life and what to do with it more than anyone else; the facilitator and your fellow group members are there to help you look at the issues, ask the hard questions and make the difficult decisions—not to make them for you.

Even when looking for support, support groups are not for everyone. If after participating in a support group for three visits you decide the group is not the right place to get your support, there are a variety of other programs for people affected by cancer to connect with others at CSC’s and elsewhere.  Whether in a group, education program, pot-luck, or book club, it is important to find a person who asks “how are you” and is ready to listen.

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Big Boys Don’t Cry Over Skinned Knees

Father and SonJune is National Men’s Health Month, and it’s a great time to raise awareness for men’s self-care and support. The leading causes of death for men in America are heart disease and cancer. Lung cancer and skin cancer are the leading causes of cancer related deaths in America. Often because of the way men are raised, it can be easy to miss opportunities to prevent or diagnose these cancers due to societal pressure on men to endure pain and hardship rather than ask for help.

American women tend to outlive their male peers. There are a number of factors that contribute to this, and many of them are indicative of how differently men and women are raised. Men are taught to cope with pain, to endure hardships and “get over it” rather than “showing weakness” by seeking help. They are told that big boys don’t cry over skinned knees. The effect this has on men’s health can be seen in their adult lives.

Men are 24% less likely to visit a doctor than women, according to the Movember Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the face of men’s health. Men experiencing symptoms of cancer are consequently less likely to have it checked out by a doctor. This makes regular screenings for cancer, such as colonoscopies and prostate exams, all the more important.

So what does this mean for men and their loved ones who care for their health? It means a conscientious effort to get regular screenings, watching for potential symptoms, commitment to seeing a doctor regularly and continual social and emotional support.

  • Remind your loved ones to exercise self-care, such as watching for cancer symptoms and checking himself for testicular cancer. A video tutorial for the latter can be found here
  • Watch for skin discolorations your loved one might dismiss or not see; this can be a symptom of skin cancer
  • Sun or secondhand smoke exposure is something someone can feel pressured to “man up” and deal with, but regular sunscreen application and limiting exposure to intense sunlight or secondhand smoke prevents skin and lung cancer.
  • Colorectal cancer is another one of the most common cancers for men. Everyone over 50 should get screened regularly for colorectal cancer.
  • To help encourage family members to get checkups, have the entire family get their annual checkups around the same time of year.
  • Reach out to give him love and emotional support. Men often face a social stigma attached to seeking emotional support themselves.

While these may seem like simple tips, they can be easily forgotten or dismissed the same way a child may not want to bandage his skinned knee. Make sure you and your loved ones take these steps to ensure longer and healthier lives.

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Meeting the needs of cancer survivors

Today’s blog post is written by Marni Amsellem, PhD. Marni is a research consultant for the Cancer Support Community.

Group 16

Robert, Felicia and Earl at CSC Philadelphia
Photograph by Ed Cunicelli

Today is National Cancer Survivors Day. Cancer survivorship is often thought to begin on the day of diagnosis. While the term “survivor” can have different meanings—one thing is clear—the social and emotional needs of people who have ever had cancer are vast. Whether you’re newly diagnosed, in treatment, facing a recurrence or considered cured, cancer survivors have distinct needs, and these needs can change over time.

A huge part of what we do at the Cancer Support Community is help address the social and emotional needs of anyone who has ever received a cancer diagnosis. This is done in a number of ways, including our Frankly Speaking About Cancer workshops. These workshops are offered through our Affiliate Network and program partners. After each workshop, people fill out a short survey. Through these surveys, we learn more about the information and support needs of people affected by cancer.

Last year, 35.1% of workshop participants were diagnosed with cancer within the past year. Both the emotional and informational needs may be very high during this time. For example, women with metastatic breast cancer reported they attended a workshop focused on their diagnosis because they wanted to:

  • Learn about their diagnosis (85.3%)
  • Better cope with a cancer diagnosis (65.6%)
  • Learn more about treatment options (63.3%)
  • Get answers to specific questions (37.1%)

We also recognize that many people, even years after a cancer diagnosis, have questions, concerns or want to connect with others. Which is why 23.4% of workshop attendees were diagnosed five or more years ago. An important reason why these individuals came to a workshop was to connect with others who were going through similar issues.

Recognizing that people have different needs at different points, CSC created the Cancer Experience Registry. The Registry is an online, grassroots community where people can share their social and emotional experiences with cancer. It is a research project driven by anyone who has ever received a cancer diagnosis and their caregivers.

Our hope is through the sharing of these experiences, we can use this information to create new programs and resources for people touched by cancer, but also bring forward a collective patient and caregiver voice to health care providers, policymakers and others to help improve the cancer experience.

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