Cancer is the second leading cause of death in New York State. This cruel disease brings heartbreak to many and is especially debilitating to members of underserved, minority communities. Many low-income New Yorkers have nowhere to turn for legal assistance as they find themselves unemployed, in debt, and with inadequate health care due to a cancer diagnosis. With a three year grant from the Lance Armstrong Foundation, NYLAG’s LegalHealth Division will expand its Cancer Project to continue to provide comprehensive legal services to low-income populations throughout New York City who are affected by cancer.

LegalHealth attorney Debra Wolf works on the Cancer Project, visiting patients in hospitals and working to build on the already established relationship between doctor and client so as to provide a holistic, medical and legal solution to a cancer diagnosis. LegalHealth attorneys such as Debra specialize in areas of law most relevant to families and individuals facing cancer or other chronic illnesses such as public and private insurance coverage, debtor/ creditor matters, employmentrelated matters and permanency and estate planning. By providing direct legal services, NYLAG’s attorneys are able to ensure that cancer patients understand their legal options and have support in dealing with the intricacies of both the medical and legal systems.

In addition to the expansion of LegalHealth’s proven successful cancer services, this funding will go toward building a national network of legal service providers who, like LegalHealth, do cancer advocacy work. LegalHealth is working to take a proactive stand in uniting and expanding cancer advocacy projects across the country. The national network will also be designed to support groups interested in starting new cancer advocacy programs and will serve as a forum for participants to share information and best practices.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation was founded in 1997 by cycling champion Lance Armstrong and is a registered nonprofit with headquarters located in Texas. This is the second time NYLAG’s LegalHealth Division has received generous funding from the Lance Armstrong Foundation. NYLAG’s LegalHealth Division is the largest, fully-staff medical-legal partnership in New York State, partnering with 14 New York City hospitals and multiple community-based health organizations to provide free civil legal services to low-income clients who are affected by a range of chronic illnesses, including cancer.

For more information on this or any other LegalHealth project, please contact Randye Retkin at [email protected] or call 212.613.5080.