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American Cancer Society of Alaska still dealing with impacts from pandemic

Published: Nov. 3, 2021 at 9:08 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The American Cancer Society provides everything from research to rides to treatment, and the nonprofit prides itself on attacking cancer from every angle. Since March of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has created hurdles for the group that are still being felt today.

“Cancer didn’t stop with the pandemic. People were still needing to be screened and needing to get to treatments,” said American Cancer Society Alaska Advisory Board President Jenifer Nelson. “And unfortunately we saw where people might have been hesitant to do so.”

One of the biggest themes Nelson said Alaska cancer patients were struggling with was access to care, and they aren’t the only ones, according to a recent survey from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network that found more than a third of cancer patients had troubles with accessibility.

“With the disruptions in all of our lives, many people haven’t been getting their cancer screenings. We’re really concerned about where that’s going to go over the long term,” said Emily Nenon, Alaska government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

Nenon added they’ve seen many people cancel or delay screenings that would have been routine under normal circumstances, like mammograms and colonoscopies.

“During the pandemic, of course, fundraising events were interrupted. That’s been a tremendous challenge,” Nenon said. “When we look at the fundraising here in Alaska from the year before the pandemic, to the first year of the pandemic, fundraising here in Alaska dropped by about half.”

While the past year has been bleak, Nenon was hopeful the Cancer Society will bounce back stronger and more focused in the future.

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