The war in Ukraine has been devastating for millions, including the tens of thousands of cancer patients whose access to life-saving care was disrupted.
The American Cancer Society estimates that the invasion impacted the cancer treatment of between 20,000 and 30,000 Ukrainian patients.
“We have major concerns related to connecting those patients back to cancer care so it minimizes those disruptions,” said the society’s Chief Patient Officer Dr. Arif Kamal.
The society jumped into action.
It expanded its contact center, the National Cancer Information Center, bringing onboard trained volunteer clinicians and cancer center administrators from across the U.S. who speak Ukrainian or are familiar with treatment standards in Eastern Europe. The volunteers man toll-free lines as well as answer emails and online chats.
“We immediately went to being a support service for people to get in touch with so we can both answer their questions related to interruptions and try to navigate them to the right resources,” Kamal told WTOP.
Kamal said it’s a testament to the oncology community worldwide that has rallied to help Ukrainian patients fleeing the war.
“A threat to a cancer patient in Ukraine is really a threat to cancer patients anywhere,” he said.
For those refugees who settle in the United States, volunteers will help connect them to Ukrainian speaking providers, including cancer surgeons.