A Beacon of Light on Your Cancer Care Journey


Giving Our Patients a Voice: Learn About Our Community Advocacy Efforts

Cynthia Przekop, RN, BSN

ECHO recognizes the importance of patients being able to advocate for themselves to ensure they continue to have access to high-quality, affordable care in their communities. That is why we are proud to be Connecticut’s first and only community oncology practice that has launched a chapter of the Community Oncology Alliance Patient Advocacy Network (CPAN).

Cynthia Przekop, RN, BSN serves as ECHO’s CPAN Chapter Advocacy Leader. Below she discusses why ECHO is such a strong proponent of community care, why they chose to start their own CPAN Chapter, and how patients and caregivers can get involved by sharing their voices.

What is the Community Oncology Alliance (COA)?

COA is a national non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring all Americans affected by cancer receive quality, affordable, and accessible care in their communities. COA is the only organization dedicated solely to the community oncology system, practice professionals, and most importantly, the patients they serve.

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What is the Community Oncology Alliance Patient Advocacy Network (CPAN)?

CPAN is a non-cancer type-specific, national network of patients, survivors, caregivers, family members, medical and oncology professionals, and all interested members of the general community. In addition to CPAN’s national advocacy, CPAN has 28 chapters across the U.S., providing resources to educate the cancer community about legislative issues affecting the quality and accessibility of cancer care in their own communities and how to be effective advocates.

What are Eastern Connecticut Hematology and Oncology (ECHO’s) relationship with COA and CPAN?

ECHO’s medical and executive leadership teams have been longstanding supporters of the Community Oncology Alliance, serving on key committees ensuring that the needs of patients are always at the forefront of COA’s various advocacy initiatives.

Why did ECHO decide to start a CPAN Chapter? 

ECHO is proud to be Connecticut’s first and only community oncology practice with a CPAN chapter. ECHO recognized the importance of patients being able to advocate for themselves to ensure they continue to have access to high-quality, affordable care in their communities. Although ECHO is located in the medical office building of the Backus Hospital campus since 1985 ECHO has been an independent community oncology cancer clinic. Patients are always surprised when they realize that ECHO is a completely independent cancer clinic and not a part of Backus Hospital.

How will CPAN’s ECHO Chapter Advocacy meetings work? Who is invited? Is it a roundtable discussion? Are there speakers?

Our meetings are open to everyone. As part of CPAN’s national advocacy group, we will have quarterly meetings that focus on different educational topics that directly relate to issues impacting community oncology. The CPAN meetings provide a forum where discussions happen and are encouraged.

Can you provide some examples of the types of issues that may be discussed?

  • The importance of preserving independent community oncology clinics
  • National & local issues that directly affect patient care
  • Understanding how national Medicare legislation can negatively impact community oncology practices

How can patients and cancer survivors benefit from ECHO’s role in CPAN?

ECHO is the only chapter in Connecticut, so patients have access to a chapter in their own community, allowing them the opportunity to learn about becoming Advocates for the Care. ECHO’s CPAN chapter will bring awareness about local and national issues impacting patient care.

Please describe your responsibilities as the CPAN ECHO Chapter Advocacy Leader.

I am ECHO’s primary advocacy liaison working closely with COA/CPAN on the national level. In my role, I work to amplify COA and CPAN’s messaging, including sharing opportunities with our patients, survivors, and staff. The main focus is on education and emphasizing the value of community oncology.

Some of my responsibilities include:

  • Leading and organizing CPAN ECHO chapter meetings.
  • Representing ECHO at the Community Oncology Alliance’s (COA) annual national conference and representing ECHO on monthly national advocacy leadership calls. I will bring back information to share with our chapter and practices.
  • Leading and organizing COA/CPAN’s annual congressional Sit in My Chair event. During this event, ECHO invites a member of our congressional delegation to visit our practice to gain a better understanding of the cancer patient experience. This event also demonstrates the value of community oncology.
  • Representing ECHO as an advocate on Capitol Hill.

Anything else you want to share about the value of community-based care?

It is important for patients to be aware that they have a voice. Now more than ever, it is time to advocate for community healthcare. Community oncology practices are closing at an alarming rate. Community oncology provides local, high-quality, and affordable care close to home.

I welcome any feedback, questions, or concerns.