Advocate Spotlight: Lauren Barnes
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got connected with the Cancer Support Community.
I have been lucky enough to work in the access to oncology care arena since the beginning of my career! About 10 years ago, I was doing a project about how health insurance companies were using clinical pathways to select treatment options for cancer patients. My project explained how the patients did not usually know that they were ultimately receiving a different drug than their doctor’s preferred choice for them. Linda Bohannon from CSC heard about the project and asked me to speak to CSC and some other cancer advocacy organizations about the project so that we could find ways to educate patients and providers about clinical pathways. Following that meeting, I was so impressed with CSC and curious to find ways to get more involved! When Kim Thiboldeaux, CEO of CSC, and Linda reached out and asked if I would be interested in being on CSC’s board—I was so honored!
Did you have experience with advocacy in any capacity before joining CSC? (e.g. legislator meetings, hosting educational events, writing letters or calling, writing pieces for media outlets, posting on your personal Facebook, sharing information with your community, etc.)
I have been involved in advocacy since college. One of my college internships was to create a child abuse prevention program for the state of Maryland related to Shaken Baby Syndrome. I led the advocacy efforts to initiate the program, which involved working with social workers, nurses, and hospital administrators across the state of Maryland. In addition to this work, I have engaged a number of patient advocacy groups in their legislative efforts. For instance, identifying ways to reduce patient cost sharing for oral oncology drugs and increasing the availability and funding for home dialysis.
Is there one issue you are particularly passionate about?
Because my professional career is focused on ensuring patients receive access to medicines, I find that I’m most passionate about making sure patients are able to afford and easily get the best treatment for their disease. This means making sure patients have insurance, keeping the out-of-pocket amounts affordable, and ensuring that a patient is able to get the exact drug their doctor recommends for them (not having any hidden obstacles that alter the drug their provider is able to prescribe).
What is one tip or piece of advice you’d like to share with others who are interested in becoming an advocate?
Be passionate, be informed, and listen! It is amazing how often you can get to a mutually agreeable solution if you truly listen to both sides of an issue and then find a compromise!
Tell us something fun about yourself—any hobbies, interests, or fun facts?
My grandfather and Kim Thiboldeaux’s father were bus drivers on the same line in Philadelphia! That explains my deep Philly roots and why my pronunciation is not always well understood outside of Philly!