Episode 19: Cancer Financial Toxicity & Health Inequities with Rosie Cunningham of Family Reach

When we think of a cancer diagnosis, we focus on the physical ramifications of the disease. But a cancer diagnosis also leads to major financial costs. Today we are speaking with Rosie Cunningham, COO of Family Reach, about financial toxicity, health inequities and tips for patients and caregivers on how to navigate the financial landscape of a cancer diagnosis.

Key highlights:

1.Financial toxicity is driven by lack of transparency in the healthcare system as well as the complicated nature of cancer care

2. Health inequities drive financial toxicity and are deeply rooted in the healthcare system

3. Tips for patients and caregivers on navigating financial challenges during the cancer experience

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About our guests

Rosie Cunningham

As COO at Family Reach, Rosie plays a pivotal role in the progression of the organization’s services, research, and collaborations. She launched the inaugural strategic planning process in 2019, and works closely with the team to ensure that all internal and external activity is aligned to push the mission forwards. She also oversees the organization’s content, programs, and impact teams, driving awareness of Family Reach as a data-driven thought leader and solution provider on financial toxicity.

While she’s held a strategic leadership role since 2019, Rosie has worn many hats at Family Reach, including Director of Marketing and Partnerships and Corporate Relations Officer. During this time, she grew corporate partnerships from 5% to over 40% of organizational revenue and launched the Imagine series, a think-tank uniting stakeholders from across sectors to ideate on solutions to financial toxicity. Prior to Family Reach, Rosie worked in the cancer survivorship space as Business Development Manager at Livestrong.

A strong believer that no one deserves the turmoil caused by a cancer diagnosis, Rosie applies her sales, marketing, and partnership expertise to guide Family Reach toward ensuring no family has to choose between their health and their home.

Watch the video of our episode on YouTube

  • 6 minutes 30 seconds:

    2/3 of people living with cancer are unable to work full time after a diagnosis. Of the families we serve 65% of them have lost over half of their household income. So before you even get into the web of healthcare costs, you’re already in crisis, unable to make ends meet. 

  • 9 minutes 30 seconds:

    People with cancer are more likely to file for bankruptcy, but beyond that, people who do file for bankruptcy are 79% more likely to die from their disease. So financial toxicity is not just a financial problem it is literally a life or death problem.

  • 16 minutes 40 seconds:

    Our mission at Family Reach, which is to alleviate the financial barriers that stand between a patient and their treatment, is rooted in health inequities. For 25 years we've served patients from across the spectrum who are unable to get to treatment because they can't afford it one way or another. Over the last decade, we as a cancer community have done a better job looking more closely at these inequities and charging ourselves to really challenge and understand the root causes and do better to close the gaps. At Family Reach what that has meant for us is to really hone in on low-income Black and low-income Hispanic Latinx patients because these two communities are most adversely affected by the financial burden of cancer.

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