At the risk of making the understatement of the century, 2020 has been “less than ideal.” In the face of a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, and a divisive political climate, this year has been especially difficult to navigate. With so many challenges tearing us apart, a yearning for HOPE—for a light in the darkness— brings us together. 

With your help, a lot has been going on. 

At Cancer Hope Network, we are in the business of HOPE. It’s who we are and what we do. Cancer didn’t take a break for the pandemic, and neither did we. In fact, Because of You and your support, we were able to provide HOPE to 14% more individuals this year than last. Despite the challenges of COVID and working remotely, our Programs team and our amazing Support Volunteers were beacons of light when they were needed most. 

This year, our Support Volunteer network grew to nearly 500 survivors and caregivers. Together, these volunteers have faced more than 80 types and subtypes of cancer, which means that for diagnosis-based matches, they’re prepared to help more than 98% of patients who will be diagnosed this year. 

That diversity of experience is helping. For the first time in 2020, we began incorporating the NCCN Distress scale into our pre-match intakes and post-match surveys. Preliminary results are showing a 4-point decrease in client-reported distress after being matched by a coordinator and speaking with a CHN Support Volunteer. While this data is anecdotal, we are incredibly proud of these findings. 

Although we could not gather in person, we came together virtually to grow partnerships with organizations like Lung Cancer Research Foundation (LCRF) and Mend Together. This fall, we trained a cohort of survivors in partnership with LCRF, helping to fill a critical need for lung cancer survivor volunteers. The Downtown Denville and Saint Clare’s Hospital community came together to again host Pink Witches Night Out in support our work. And, we continued to grow awareness of our mission and generate support from federal employees by participating in virtual events with federal agencies through the Combined Federal Campaign (Have a few minutes? You may enjoy this submission we created for the Virtual Giving Tuesday CFC Music Festival hosted earlier this month. It features photos of our volunteers and original music from Travis Powell. Click here.)

We also hosted our first ever Hope Check: Ambassadors of Hope training. Ambassadors of Hope are volunteers who help raise awareness of Cancer Hope Network by recruiting other survivors to volunteer, coordinating with cancer centers and support groups to find patients in need of support and, of course, sharing hope in these challenging times. 

On a more personal note, facing the external adversity of the pandemic together and learning how to support each other as Cancer Hope Network professionals through the uncertainty of these times has made us a stronger team, more dedicated than ever to our mission. 

We are very proud of our staff’s ability to remain flexible as individuals and as a team to adapt to the changing times. Because of this, the social support we offer to patients and the people who love them is—and will continue to be—available by phone, email, and chat throughout this health crisis and beyond. We are grateful for the many ways that you have been there for us, and it is a privilege for us to continue to be there for you.