CSC Executive Chair Joins First Lady Dr. Jill Biden to Focus on Screening and Navigation for Cancer Patients

January 22, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC – (Friday, January 22, 2021) As seen on ABC News and other major media outlets, Kim Thiboldeaux, Executive Chair of the Cancer Support Community (CSC), joined First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Whitman-Walker Health CEO Naseema Shafi for a tour of the federally-qualified health center’s 14th Street location. The visit underscored the importance of Americans getting cancer screenings and personalized patient navigation as the country’s health system grapples with the pandemic.

“Dr. Biden is a longstanding leader and advocate for families affected by cancer, and it was an honor to join her today to focus on the need for cancer screenings and community-based patient navigation services as our health system faces an unprecedented pandemic,” said Thiboldeaux, whose organization provides $50 million annually in free support and navigation services to individuals affected by cancer. “This visit to a health center focused on providing care to under-served communities comes on the second full day of this new administration and thus underscores Dr. Biden’s commitment to the issues of health equity, access, and affordability. We look forward to working with Dr. Biden to enact positive changes on behalf of the millions of our fellow citizens experiencing a cancer diagnosis and ending the systemic inequities that plague our system.” 

In 2015, Whitman-Walker Health, which offers affirming community-based health and wellness services to all with special expertise in LGBTQ and HIV care, became the first federally-qualified health center to integrate CSC’s evidence-based care model into its services. These services include psychosocial distress screening, treatment decision-making support, problem-solving skill development, care coordination and navigation, and self-advocacy training.

“Community health centers like Whitman-Walker are integral for removing barriers to accessing care and ensuring positive health outcomes for any person who walks through the doors. At Whitman-Walker, we center our care delivery around a dignifying, respectful experience,” said Shafi.  “In offering whole-person health services with an expertise in HIV and LGBTQ care, Whitman-Walker is uniquely positioned to deliver affirming care that accounts for all parts of a person’s identity. From offering chest and cervical screenings to members of the transgender and gender expansive communities, to setting up regular preventative screenings for breast and chest cancer, prostate cancer and more, we work to ensure that a person’s full self is prioritized in their care plan.”

The focus on health screening comes as recent studies show screening for cancers of the breast, colon, and cervix down between 86 percent and 94 percent in March of 2020 alone. By July 2020, rates of these cancer screenings were still between 29 percent and 35 percent lower than their pre-COVID-19 levels. In addition, CSC’s comprehensive study regarding the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients revealed the significant need for patients to receive personalized support and navigation:

  • 52 percent of respondents indicated that COVID-19 has very or somewhat negatively affected their ability to obtain needed health care
  •  40 percent of respondents have experienced a disruption to their cancer-related health care because of COVID-19
  •  46 percent of respondents are somewhat, very, or extremely concerned about diagnostic tests being delayed or canceled
  • 85 percent of respondents are somewhat, very, or extremely concerned about others’ lack of adherence to COVID-19 related safety recommendations, like wearing masks in public

CSC also has published a series of policy recommendations for the Biden-Harris administration.