To provide hope, an improvement of communication, support, education and advocacy for the Native American cancer survivor.
Financial support is needed to help us advocate for better cancer care for Native Americans.
A. Native Communities NPCOH serves
Native People’s Circle of Hope serves Native American cancer survivors, their families, caretakers and medical providers who live on and off their reservations and is a coalition of Native American cancer support whose mission is to provide hope, an improvement of communication, support, education and advocacy for the cancer survivor. Members of the coalition are from Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Arizona, Minnesota, North Carolina and Oklahoma.
II. NPCOH Activities
NPCOH activities focus on Native cancer survivors and their supporters. A long standing project is the “Medicine-Bag” project wherein NPCOH gifts to newly diagnosed cancer survivors, regardless of type of cancer or ethnic background those items that a cancer survivor might need during their treatment. A few of the items gifted are a pill container, water bottle, hat, lap quilt, cancer books, slippers, beaded “Medicine-Bag” necklace, and other similar donated items. This project enlists the help of many volunteers to collect the products, make the quilts and bead the necklaces. The volunteers are encouraged during the course of the activity to adopt healthy behaviors that can lower their risk for a cancer diagnosis.
Other activities include the hosting of the annual “Roots of Strength” national conference for native cancer survivors, participation in state planning efforts wherein they affect Native cancer issues, and starting cancer support groups in Native communities. NPCOH collaborates with the Native American Cancer Researchers, Cancer Information Service, NCI-Director’s Consumer’s Liaison Group, Ovarian Cancer Coalition, National Patient Advocate Foundation, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Huntsman Cancer Institute and many others.
III. Issues NPCOH is addressing
Cancer is the second leading cause of death for American Indians over the age of 45 and the leading cause of death for Alaska Natives. Although the incidence (the number of people who actually get cancer) is relatively low, death from cancer is high because Natives are generally diagnosed in the later stages of their disease.
So, for many Natives cancer is seen as a death sentence. This does not have to be so. Cancer treatment is better than it once was. People are starting to hear the message that “early detection” is the key to surviving a cancer diagnosis. But for the survivor, their family members or caretakers the fight to defeat the disease can be a lonely, scary, traumatic experience. NPCOH’s mission is to provide hope, an improvement of communication, support, education and advocacy for the cancer survivor. We want to help the Native cancer survivor and their supporters understand that they are not alone. We are here to help.
Helping can be extremely simple, i.e. just listening to a person express their fears or extremely complex, i.e., gaining the trust of tribal governments to allow the opening of their constituents medical records for research purposes. NPCOH can devote their resources to training counselors who help the survivors “navigate” the health care system. NPCOH can facilitate dialogue among tribal, state, federal or private organizations so all Native peoples have access to quality cancer treatment services.
2. Cancer is the second leading cause of death of Native Americans
3. More Native Americans die from cancer than any other ethnic group because of a late diagnosis.
4. The Indian Health Care Service is critically underfunded.
5. Access to health care and quality of health care for Native Americans is the poorest of all ethnic groups.