Hebron faculty members Erin Leist and Ashley Paulson, along with their dog Oscar will be hiking the Long Trail (273 miles) in Vermont this summer to raise funds for the Community Health Center in Burlington that serves low-income and uninsured people.
Their mission is to raise awareness and funds about the disparities in the healthcare system with a focus on cancer screenings and treatment.
Ashley and Erin's Story
In the past year, two of our close family members have been diagnosed with cancer. These diagnoses have led to a greater awareness of the world of cancer treatment, which contains great disparities that we feel need to be remedied. Our family is fortunate enough to have good health insurance that makes cancer treatments possible, but we realize that other families are not as lucky. Enduring treatment is difficult in itself; there should not be an additional battle to fight. We would like to see a world in which everyone can fight cancer without the concern of healthcare coverage and cost. Cancer does not discriminate, and neither should the healthcare system.
We have chosen to approach this large goal of equitable healthcare through our passion for the outdoors. Hiking is a love of ours, and also has great physical and mental health benefits. We will be walking the trails to raise awareness of the importance of preventative healthcare such as cancer screenings and of living a healthy lifestyle with consistent exercise. We are hiking for health in partnership with community health centers, starting in Vermont. It is a long process that we will take step by step.
Raise money for the Community Health Centers of Burlington by hiking the Vermont Long Trail (273 miles).
Start Date: June 7th, 2021
Purpose of Funds:
Some facts about cancer were particularly striking to us as we researched the financial causes and effects of the disease.
1. Cancer patients are 2.5 times more likely to file for bankruptcy (Hutchinson Institute of Cancer Outcomes Research, 2016). Not only are the drugs expensive, with some treatments costing up to $70,000 per treatment (American Cancer Society, 2019), but undergoing said treatment can also cause other financial burdens such as taking unexpected time off of work, affording more extensive childcare, and finding housing that is closer to the treatment center. These financial impacts of cancer will only add stress to the patient's life, and we hope that the funds we raise will help reduce the added stress.
2. Cancer death rates are approximately 20% higher among residents of the poorest U.S. counties compared to the most affluent counties. The largest gaps are seen in preventable cancers, including lung, cervical, colorectal, and liver cancers (American Cancer Society, 2019). Cancer does not discriminate against individuals based on socio-economic status, so financial status should not discriminate against cancer patients' likelihood of survival. By raising money for community health centers, we hope to reduce the disparity of death rates between patients on different ends of the wealth spectrum.