Cancer Legal Resource Center

Disability Rights Legal Center

Grant: $10,000

Despite progress made in cancer treatment, access to health care, and disability rights, survivorship disparities persist. Urgent attention is needed to reduce disparities for marginalized and low-income groups regarding access to cancer screening and health care. Those living with a cancer diagnosis are focused on medical concerns and are often unaware of services and protections available to them. When an individual is diagnosed with cancer, they are preoccupied with questions about treatment options and prognosis. They may not realize that their condition may entitled to protections available under the law for people with disabilities, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which promotes equal access for Americans with disabilities, which can include cancer, and protects them from discrimination. Without equal access to legal information, many people remain unaware of these and other legal safeguards and suffer needlessly from employment discrimination, loss of housing, or insurance related complications. Those facing job loss or staggering medical debt due to lack of insurance may find themselves suddenly reliant on legal assistance to meet their most basic needs. Unfortunately, due to the excessive cost and relative unavailability of cancer-focused legal services, many of those who have legal needs, especially low-income individuals, cannot attain services – a trend commonly referred to as the “justice gap.” This discrepancy is particularly pronounced in California, where, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, more than 18 percent of residents live in poverty. In 2020, many common issues for individuals facing a cancer diagnosis have only intensified due to the pandemic, bringing with them the potential for delayed treatment, unstable income, and other complications with the potential for long-term consequences. With a grant from Tower Cancer Research Foundation, the Disability Rights Legal Center’s Cancer Legal Resource Center will help individuals with cancer navigate their cancer-related legal concerns during the COVID pandemic, from diagnosis through survivorship. The grant will allow for the creation of a series of four webinars focused on providing COVID-related information and resources to low-income, underserved individuals affected by cancer throughout Southern California and across the U.S.

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