Karmanos, WSU cancer health equity and community engagement faculty supervisor honored by American Cancer Society

With a mission of wanting everyone to have the opportunity to live healthy and long lives, the American Cancer Society (ACS) honored individuals walking on that path daily during the annual Detroit Discovery Ball on Oct. 22, 2022. Hayley Thompson, Ph.D., faculty supervisor of the Office of Cancer Health Equity & Community Engagement (OCHECE) at Karmanos Cancer Institute, associate center director for community outreach and engagement, professor of oncology and leader of the Center for Health Equity and Community Knowledge in Urban Populations (CHECK-UP) at Wayne State University, was awarded the Health Equity Award.

“The American Cancer Society is proud to honor Dr. Hayley Thompson for her significant contributions to improving health equity throughout the cancer continuum,” said Dr. Kathy Goss, senior vice president, Partnerships and Capacity Building. “From her work to increase post-treatment surveillance among Latina breast cancer survivors to the development of Cancer Action Councils that bring together diverse groups of survivors, caregivers, and advocates to learn from their experiences, Dr. Thompson is a true hero for health equity in Michigan. The American Cancer Society is proud to have funded and been a partner in her important work.”

Over the years, Dr. Thompson has worked with her team to provide education about cancer research, clinical trials and treatment, as well as make cancer screenings available to many different groups across Southeast Detroit and the state. One of the highlighted quotes of the evening was by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

Dr. Thompson has dedicated her research to solve this issue, making health care understandable and attainable to all. She and her team work to identify and understand the barriers that may stop someone from getting the care they need. In 2013, she received funding from the ACS to increase post-treatment surveillance among Latina breast cancer survivors. At Karmanos, she worked with OCHECE to form the Michigan Cancer HealthLink, made up of 11 Cancer Action Councils (CACs) – groups of community members and representatives from community-based organizations across the state who apply their knowledge about local cancer issues to improving the lives of cancer patients, survivors and caregivers in their communities.

Recently, Dr. Thompson and her team also secured funding to launch CHECK-UP’s Community Health Scholars Program; partnered with the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Central Michigan to provide free colorectal cancer screening kits and education; worked with project lead Dr. Theresa Hastert to secure funding through the Michigan Health Endowment Fund for a digital resource and seminar tool for cancer patients and caregivers, titled Michigan Community Outreach to Address Financial Toxicity (MI-COST); relaunched the Community-Engaged Research Symposium Series with topics surrounding health inequities; and recently received a supplemental award from the National Cancer Institute that supports a project aiming to enhance the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity of oncology patients through training and strategic implementation. Dr. Thompson was also honored in July 2022 by LGBT Detroit with the Cornelius Wilson Community Service Award.