A photo of people standing near a ChicagoCHEC banner at a pre-COVID-19 event.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative (ChicagoCHEC) has announced details for its 6th Annual Community Forum. This year’s theme is Working Together for Better: New Beginnings & New Normal in the Cancer Support and Survivorship Community.

The forum will take place virtually from 11 a.m-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, and Friday, Sept. 24, via Zoom. There will be various presentations on both days on topics relating to cancer screenings, treatments, and community experiences, including dealing with grief, loss and healing. Information will be provided in English, Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL). Featured guest speakers include actress, writer, director and producer Yolonda Ross and Director of Illinois Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

ChicagoCHEC is a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer partnership led by the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University, Northeastern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago. ChicagoCHEC’s mission is to advance cancer health equity through meaningful scientific discovery, education, training and community engagement.

“Against all odds, including the pandemic, new stressors and less access, ChicagoCHEC has provided flexible, innovative and accommodating resources, programs and services to continue to address the communities need,” said Joanne Glenn, RN, MBA, ChicagoCHEC CSC Co-Chair and founder of the W.O.T. Foundation, Inc. and Melanated in Medicine, NFP. “The Zoom platform, surveys and increased community collaborations and partnerships have addressed barriers to care and social determinants. I am delighted to be part of this winning team, as we continue to-face more challenges, we won’t give up. Follow the science and ChicagoCHEC as we continue to support our populations in need."

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to complicate healthcare and highlights inequities in treatment and access to care. Carmen Velasquez, CSC member and founder of Alivio Medical Center believes ChicagoCHEC helps community members become active members in understanding healthcare and treatment.

“ChicagoCHEC opens the door for the community to have a voice, to connect the dots where many times the scientists or academics do not see or have the same experience a community member has, be it physical or emotional pain,” Velasquez said. “The scientist who willingly listens and becomes a partner, makes a significant difference in reaching health equity as it relates to any disease, especially cancer.”

Principal Investigator of ChicagoCHEC and Northeastern Professor and Chair of Mathematics Lidia Filus believes engagement with the city’s underserved population is key to addressing health equity issues and Northeastern is well-positioned to do just that.

“Northeastern Illinois University serves a very diverse population of students,” Filus said. “As such, Northeastern is uniquely positioned to partner with various communities and bridge gaps in healthcare, not only through educating students who will become future medical professionals, but by making events like the ChicagoCHEC Community Forum accessible to everyone to learn more about health and wellness.”

The ChicagoCHEC Community forum is free and open to all who wish to attend. Sign up online to receive the Zoom link.