In Hawai‘i alone, an estimated 6,640 people will be diagnosed with cancer this year – that is 18 people per day in Hawai‘i hearing from their doctor, “You have cancer.” These three words plunge a cancer patient and her or his family into a spinning wheel of tests, treatments, conflicting information, physical pain, and incredible financial and emotional stress.
Though early detection and advanced treatments cure more patients than was possible in the past, the generation of baby boomers now entering the cancer years (ages 50+) will increase exponentially the number of cancer diagnoses. By the 2015, new diagnoses in Hawai‘i are expected to increase to 7,123, and over 2,400 residents will die from cancer each year.
The majority of cancer care, including clinical trials, available to residents of Hawai’i and Guam is provided by the large cancer treatment centers on O`ahu. The average yearly incidence of cancer diagnosis by island (2001-2005 Hawaii Tumor Registry data): Maui – 553 patients; Kaua‘i – 275 patients; Big Island – 771 patients; O‘ahu – 4067 patients; and Guam – 277 patients.
Although many cancer patients can expect to live longer and enjoy far better quality of life than in years past, the financial impact for many is devastating. Twenty-five percent of cancer patients use all or most of their savings (whether insured or uninsured) and 11 percent forego payments for food, utilities, or housing, and instead will choose their life-saving cancer treatment over other critical needs.
American Cancer Society supporters see the devastating impact of cancer on so many members of our community and are gratified that the American Cancer Society Hawai‘i Pacific is able to provide the resources to positively impact the lives of 3,400 cancer patients in Hawai‘i, Guam and the Pacific (in 2013).
It is through fundraising initiatives and collaborative relationships with healthcare facilities that American Cancer Society Hawai‘i Pacific has been able to provide crucial services to so many of the Hawai‘i and Guam residents diagnosed with cancer. As generous as current supporters are, significantly more funding is required if we hope to meet the needs of so many people in our communities who are and will be facing the difficult, confusing and often exhausting journey from diagnosis through treatment.