Patrick Dempsey Joins Team Breakaway; Survey Findings Reveal Impact of Cancer on Careers
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 16, 2007--In an ongoing effort to raise awareness of and funds to support free services and programs to help people affected by cancer, Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) today announced one of TV's biggest stars - Patrick Dempsey - will serve as a spokesperson for the Breakaway from Cancer (TM) initiative. In addition, Amgen, in collaboration with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) and The Wellness Community (TWC), released the findings of a nationwide cancer and career survey that highlights the importance of making patients and caregivers aware of places they can turn for support.
Amgen created the Breakaway from Cancer initiative in 2005 as a complementary component to the company's sponsorship of the Amgen Tour of California, a world-class cycling event taking place in February. Last year, through the Breakaway from Cancer effort, Amgen raised more than $1 million to support TWC, an international, non-profit organization dedicated to providing free support, education and hope to people affected by cancer. In 2007, the initiative is expanding to also benefit the NCCS, the oldest survivor-led cancer advocacy organization in the country.
Dempsey to Help Spread the Word
Real-life drama prepared Grey's Anatomy's Patrick Dempsey for his new role as spokesperson for the Breakaway from Cancer initiative. In this role, Dempsey will raise awareness and funds to help empower patients and their caregivers with the education, resources and hope it takes to live well with cancer.
"My mother is a two-time ovarian cancer survivor," said Dempsey. "I hope by supporting Breakaway from Cancer and sharing my family's experience, others will be inspired to seek the support they need. The good news is there is a wide array of free resources and services out there."
Survey Shows Employer Support Strong; Yet Missed Treatments are Prevalent
To assess the impact of cancer on careers and raise further awareness about the Breakaway from Cancer initiative, Amgen, in collaboration with the NCCS and TWC, developed a nationwide survey of cancer survivors and caregivers. Results of the survey indicate one in five cancer patients say they missed a scheduled treatment due to a work-related conflict -- and, of those who skipped treatments, 50 percent say they missed or postponed three or more times. The survey findings reveal this concerning statistic, while at the same time demonstrate strong support from employers of both cancer patients and caregivers.
-- 75 and 79 percent of cancer patients and caregivers,
respectively, characterized their employer as supportive while
dealing with their own illness or that of a loved one.
-- Approximately 40 percent of the more than one million Americans diagnosed with some form of cancer each year are working-age adults, and nearly 10 million Americans have a history of cancer.(1)
-- The most frequently requested and granted accommodation among patients and caregivers was time off for doctor's appointments at 55 percent. Other granted requests included flexible work hours, telecommuting or the ability to rest during the day.
-- Six out of 10 respondents say they received support from their colleagues ranging from random acts of kindness to being the recipient of donated vacation time.
"These findings tell us that receiving necessary support from an employer may be as simple as asking for it," said Cynthia Schwalm, vice president and general manager, Amgen Oncology. "We sincerely urge anyone dealing with cancer to do just that, especially since keeping a consistent treatment schedule is one of the most important weapons in the fight against cancer."
The survey further reveals that caregivers are on the frontline -- not the sideline -- when it comes to helping friends or family members with the disease. Career challenges and sacrifices made by caregivers closely mirror those reported by cancer patients who remain employed during their treatment.
-- One-fourth of both caregivers and patients report missing five
to 15 days of work.
-- The average number of hours worked decreased considerably for both groups, with patients averaging 10 fewer hours of work each week, and caregivers working nearly seven hours less.
-- Slightly more than one-third of patients (35 percent) said their caregivers made significant career sacrifices while assisting them during their illness. The same proportion of caregivers agreed with the statement.
"According to the survey, nine out of 10 times a caregiver is assisting a family member and we know that cancer can impact an entire family," said Kim Thiboldeaux, president and CEO, TWC. "In most cases the caregiver needs support from both their employer and organizations such as ours just as much as the person with cancer. We were pleased to learn that 45 percent of caregivers said they wish they had an online support group because they can find one online at The Virtual Wellness Community in addition to face-to-face groups at our 21 nationwide centers."
Interestingly, two-thirds of both cancer patients and caregivers report their job helped them maintain emotional stability during the treatment period and 34 percent of patients said they kept working because they wanted to -- not because they had to. However, ongoing health insurance coverage had a significant impact on one's decision to work or not work, as 68 percent of patients who had health insurance through their employer said it was a factor in their decision to keep working. And one-third felt they could not leave their job because they might not be able to obtain health insurance elsewhere.
"In comparing today's findings with results from a cancer and the workplace study commissioned by Amgen and NCCS a decade ago, we're pleased to see progress in regards to supervisor and co-worker understanding of cancer patient situations. And this new data further emphasizes what we know to be the experiences of people with cancer where the career and emotional tolls weigh heavily on both patients and caregivers," said Ellen Stovall, president and CEO, NCCS. "But, there is help and hope, and in many cases, it is a matter of knowing where to turn for support. To effectively navigate the healthcare system, it is critical that patients and caregivers have access to credible and accurate tools and resources."
Of the more than 1,000 survey respondents (504 working patients/500 working caregivers), 61 percent of patients worked full-time while undergoing cancer treatment and 64 percent of caregivers were employed full-time. The majority of respondents were between the ages of 18 - 64 and all either had cancer or served in the caregiver role within the past five years.
More information about the survey findings, valuable services and programs offered by TWC and NCCS, and ways to support the Breakaway from Cancer initiative, is available on-line at www.breakawayfromcancer.com.
About Breakaway from Cancer
Founded in 2005, Breakaway from Cancer(TM) is a complementary component to the Amgen race sponsorship. Breakaway from Cancer continues to raise awareness and funds to support valuable services and programs, provided free of charge, that help people living with cancer. Last year, through the Breakaway from Cancer initiative, Amgen raised more than $1 million to support The Wellness Community, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free support, education and hope for all people affected by cancer. This year, the initiative will support the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, the oldest survivor-led cancer advocacy organization in the country, and The Wellness Community. Learn more at www.breakawayfromcancer.com.
Amgen discovers, develops and delivers innovative human therapeutics. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen was one of the first companies to realize the new science's promise by bringing safe, effective medicines from lab, to manufacturing plant, to patient. Amgen therapeutics have changed the practice of medicine, helping millions of people around the world in the fight against cancer, kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and other serious illnesses. With a deep and broad pipeline of potential new medicines, Amgen remains committed to advancing science to dramatically improve people's lives. To learn more about our pioneering science and our vital medicines, visit www.amgen.com
About The Wellness Community
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2007, The Wellness Community (TWC) is an international, non-profit organization dedicated to providing free support, education, and hope to people directly or indirectly touched by cancer. Through participation in professionally lead support groups, educational workshops, nutrition and exercise programs, and stress reduction classes, people coping with cancer learn vital skills that enable them to regain control, reduce isolation, and restore hope - regardless of the stage of their disease. Today, there are 21 Wellness Communities across the United States, five in development, 28 satellites, two centers abroad in Tokyo and Tel Aviv, and a community online at The Virtual Wellness Community. At TWC, all programs are free of charge. For more information please visit www.thewellnesscommunity.org or call 1.888.793.WELL.
About the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
The National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) is oldest survivor-led cancer advocacy organization in the country and a highly respected authentic voice at the federal level, advocating for quality cancer care for all Americans and empowering cancer survivors. NCCS believes in evidence-based advocacy for changes at the federal level in how the nation researches, regulates, finances and delivers quality cancer care. In 2004, NCCS launched Cancer Advocacy Now!(TM), a legislative advocacy network that seeks to involve people from across the country in federal cancer-related issues. Patient education is also a priority of NCCS. They believe that access to credible and accurate patient information, such as NCCS's award-winning Cancer Survival Toolbox(R) is key to demanding and receiving quality cancer care. For more information about NCCS, its advocacy and patient education materials, please visit www.canceradvocacy.org or call 1.877.NCCS.YES.
(1) Armour, S. (2005, December 13). More stay on the job while they fight cancer. USA TODAY, pg. B-1, Cover Story, Money.
Ashleigh Koss, 805-313-6151