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VCU Massey challenges Virginians to take a stand against health disparities

Dr. Robert Winn

Did you know that African American women are 42 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, or that African American men are 50 percent more likely to die from colorectal cancer than white men?

Ending disparities like these will require awareness and, most importantly, action. That is why VCU Massey Cancer Center launched 25 for 25 Health Equity & Justice today, on October 1 . This 25-day awareness campaign challenges our community to pledge $25 in support of Massey’s efforts to reduce cancer disparities in Central Virginia by 2025.

“Our goal is ambitious, but it needs to be,” says Dr. Robert Winn, director of VCU Massey Cancer Center. Winn is a pulmonologist and cancer disparities researcher who has dedicated his career to addressing inequities in the health care system. He is the only African American director of a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in the country.

“Massey serves a diverse urban and rural population that has been significantly impacted by health disparities,” he says. “We must do all that we can to ensure everyone has access to the best cancer care possible regardless of their race, zip code or bank statement.”


You can help end health disparities

Massey Cancer Center has been and will continue to be a leader in addressing cancer health disparities. 

We invite you to help us raise awareness of health inequities in our communities by following Team Massey on Facebook. From there, you can share daily facts about health disparities in Virginia and how Massey is working to address them. You will also find opportunities to engage with Massey experts through virtual educational events.

With your help, we will raise at least $100,000 to support local cancer equity research and interventions. To pledge your support or to sign up for daily emails featuring videos and events, please visit our 25 for 25 Health Equity and Justice website.

Many routes to solving cancer health inequities

“There are many factors that contribute to cancer and health disparities, so our approach to solving these problems must be multifaceted,” says Vanessa B. Sheppard, Ph.D., associate director for community outreach engagement and health disparities research at Massey Cancer Center. “We must increase access to health care and screening resources and improve early detection efforts in underserved communities. We also must increase diversity among health care workers, researchers and educators to better reflect the communities they serve.”

Recently, the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) released its inaugural Cancer Disparities Progress Report. Winn served on the AACR Steering Committee that contributed to the report. The document highlights the need for increased, sustainable funding for organizations and programs tasked with reducing health disparities, increasing diversity in clinical research and prioritizing cancer control initiatives, among other measures.

“These are the challenges that 25 for 25 Health Equity & Justice will help fund,” Winn says. “As Virginia’s cancer center, we’re asking Virginians to support one another and tackle these systemic issues that continue to hurt the lives and livelihoods of their fellow citizens.”

Please visit our 25 for 25 Health Equity & Justice campaign website to create a fundraising page you can share with your friends and family. All proceeds from the campaign will fund Massey’s efforts to eliminate health disparities in Virginia.