This post was contributed by a community member. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

In the midst of a devastating pandemic, Americans are facing unprecedented challenges. This is especially true for the 1.8 million Americans diagnosed with cancer during 2020. In addition to being especially vulnerable to coronavirus, more than one of every four cancer patients and survivors had delays in care due to COVID-19, which has upended lives and uniquely challenged cancer patients, survivors and their families. Patients have had to go through treatment alone and the need to quarantine has created isolation. To fill this void, the American Cancer Society added face-to-face video chats to its free, 24-hour cancer hotline that provides cancer support and resources at 1-800-227-2345.

COVID-19 has placed the American Cancer Society (ACS) in crisis for the first time in the Society’s 107-year history, creating a $200 million shortfall in fundraising, reducing cancer research funding by 50% this year, and challenging the Society’s ability to provide cancer patients and their caregivers support during an unprecedented time.

Nancy Marx, an American Cancer Society volunteer, has been the primary caregiver to her best friend Pat Burger, who was treated for breast cancer during COVID-19. “No one could go in with my friend to support her during her treatment. Her sister, her husband and I had to quarantine so we could safely take care of her. Other family couldn’t come visit. When she finished radiation treatment and rang the bell at the cancer center, no family or friends were with her. All her conferences with doctors and the cancer team were virtual. I was so upset for her.”

Caregivers, not only cancer patients, need support during the stress of a cancer journey. Nancy, a long-time Relay For Life of Eastern Baltimore County participant, called the American Cancer Society’s 800 number cancer hotline for support. “The 800 number is there for everything you want to know about cancer. I didn’t understand certain medical terms and new medicines. The Society’s trained cancer specialists are there to talk and help. I felt much better after my call,” said Nancy.

On #GivingTuesday and throughout the month of December, the Society is asking for the public’s support. ACS is the largest non-profit funder of cancer research outside the federal government and provides vital services addressing health disparities and round-the-clock patient support despite the times. Due to the pandemic’s crippling impact, cancer patients, caregivers and survivors are turning to the American Cancer Society for information and resources to navigate COVID-19.

To donate to the American Cancer Society on #GivingTuesday or throughout the month of December, go to: cancer.org or go to facebook.com/americancancersocietymaryland and donate to an American Cancer Society campaign or event here in Maryland.

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