The Colorado Cancer Coalition launched the 2021–2025 Colorado State Cancer Plan in the town of Cheyenne Wells on July 23, in concert with the Communities That Care Community Action Plan with Cheyenne County Local Public Health. More than 40 Cheyenne County residents joined in person, and nearly 100 more joined virtually. One of the Colorado Cancer Coalition's main priorities is to focus on increasing capacity and screening rates in rural and frontier counties. Over the past year, the coalition has focused on Cheyenne County, which has the second highest age-adjusted incidence rate of cancer in Colorado.
Andrea (Andi) Dwyer, who directs the Colorado Cancer Screening Program at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and is a faculty member at the Colorado School of Public Health, helped launch the Coalition in Communities initiative in 2020 as chair of the Colorado Cancer Coalition. The Colorado Cancer Coalition in Communities program aims to improve cancer outcomes for rural and frontier communities by working with a community to assess its needs and create a collaborative approach to cancer prevention and early detection. Dwyer is a seventh-generation Coloradan from a farm ranch family and a native of Cheyenne County.
Cheyenne County residents outside the Sun Bus.
The campaign focuses on:
- Launching the Colorado State Cancer plan and aligning with public health strategies and efforts in Cheyenne County.
- Providing support for data in grant writing and funding proposals for cancer prevention, helping raise more than $50,000 for support of a new mammography unit.
- Supporting Hospital Week at Keefe Memorial Hospital and county clinic locations.
- Exposure at Cheyenne County Fair and Rodeo, working with Neil Box, PhD, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado, to bring the Sun Bus to Cheyenne Wells.
- Supporting Cheyenne County Walk for a Cure and helping raise funds for housing and travel expenses for rural patients who are engaged in clinical trials or treatment in the Front Range.
- Engaging and facilitating the awareness campaign with advocates and survivors for the #EndCancerCheyenne Ambassador Campaign in Cheyenne County.
State Representative Rod Pelton joined the Cancer Plan launch event and shared his support of rural primary care and access to services. Pelton was one of the nearly 100 people screened by the Sun Bus.
“I wish to thank the Cheyenne County community for welcoming the Cancer Coalition to the fair,” said Allie Bain, partnerships manager of the American Cancer Society and chair of the Colorado Cancer Coalition. “It was an outstanding opportunity to talk about cancer prevention and ways to decrease cancer in the community.”
From left, Allie Bain, Neil Box, PhD, and Andrea (Andi) Dwyer
This effort couldn’t have been more timely as a new study in the journal Cancer finds that teens and young adults with cancer who live in rural areas or far from the hospital where they were diagnosed are more likely to have advanced cancer and more likely to die.
Marcy Brossman, a two-time cancer survivor and young mother of two, noted that her cancer wasn’t a screenable cancer but said that support of young patients is critical and difficult in rural communities. The Coalition in Communities campaign launching the Colorado Cancer Plan in rural efforts is a great opportunity to advance care for all Coloradans, she said.