Bringing Diverse Voices to the Forefront of Advocacy

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Advocacy Blog
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Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) is fighting to decrease health disparities through an organizational partnership with Blue Hat Foundation, whose mission is to educate, raise awareness, and provide resources to free screenings for minority and medically underserved communities.

Founded by Candace Henley, a stage IIB colorectal cancer (CRC) survivor diagnosed at 35 years old who is currently facing a recurrence, Blue Hat Foundation saw a gap in the CRC community: It was not serving black and underserved communities. 

“It is challenging to go into communities of color and talk about CRC screening rates when they may not even understand what you're talking about,” said Henley. “We know that there are language and health literacy barriers. And I'll admit that before I was diagnosed with colon cancer, I didn't know what colon cancer was. Well-intended actions can result in consequences if you are not researching the community you're considering involvement in.”

In January 2022, Fight CRC partnered with Henley to analyze the organization's advocacy efforts through a health equity lens to ensure the work is reaching and helping diverse communities. Today, Henley is supporting health equity efforts in Fight CRC’s Catalyst State-by-State Program which works to accelerate progress toward turning aspirational CRC screening goals into reality by increasing access and reducing barriers through policy change.  

“The Catalyst Program has had great success in supporting state policy efforts to increase access to colorectal screening,” said Fight CRC Director of Advocacy Molly McDonnell. “It is critical that we ensure that those efforts and that success is benefiting all communities, not just some. Candace is an invaluable resource to Fight CRC and our grantees as we work to increase access to colorectal cancer screening. The way you build trust is by building relationships with the community.” 

CRC is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths between men and women combined in the United States. However, CRC incidence and mortality rates are not uniform across race and ethnicity. CRC death rates for Black Americans are about 40% higher than White Americans, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). 

Fight CRC is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to quality healthcare. These efforts require addressing the disparities and gaps that occur for underserved populations. 

“It is our goal to educate the community and bring inequities into a sharp focus,” said Fight CRC President Anjee Davis. “Together alongside Candace and the Blue Hat Foundation community, we hope to reduce health disparities one state at a time.” 

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