Klein Will Oversee the Alliance’s Initiatives to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening Rates in the U.S.
Healthcare executive Marcie Klein has joined the national nonprofit Colorectal Cancer Alliance (Alliance) as its Vice President of Prevention, with the charge of transforming public perception of colorectal cancer and increasing screening rates across the country. Klein comes to the Alliance from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), where she served in various executive roles over nearly eight years, most recently as Chief Communications Officer.
“The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is thrilled to welcome such a strong communicator and patient advocate to our organization,” said Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Alliance. “In this role, Marcie’s primary objective is to end the stigma that surrounds this disease and prevents people from taking the lifesaving action of routine screening for colorectal cancer. Marcie brings to the Alliance a successful track record of creating impactful awareness campaigns for iconic brands and healthcare organizations. Most recently she was the driving force for the launch of LLS’s new brand platform, generating nearly three billion earned media impressions in 2018 alone.”
The Alliance’s focus on the screening and prevention of colorectal cancer comes amidst the COVID-19 crisis, which was shown to reduce screenings and biopsies by nearly 90% in the first half of 2020, as many put off routine healthcare during the pandemic. In fact, one-third of eligible adults are not getting screened for colorectal cancer, the second deadliest cancer in men and women combined. Unlike most other cancers, colorectal cancer is highly preventable with routine screening, and early detection leads to high treatment success rates. This year, an estimated 149,500 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, and an estimated 52,980 will die. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance exists to end colorectal cancer in our lifetime.
Klein’s onboarding comes just before National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. This March, the Alliance is promoting a Screening Pledge, which provides signers with the resources and encouragement needed to follow through with their colorectal cancer screenings.
Question-and-Answer with Marcie Klein
You're moving from a communications role to a prevention role. How will you leverage your prior experience to make an impact in colorectal cancer prevention?
Klein: I believe that my years of experience and accomplishments across communications and marketing in the healthcare arena provide a unique perspective for this important prevention role at the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. Education and awareness, including messaging aimed at alleviating the “gross” factor associated with colorectal cancers, will be a significant factor in our success. Getting the word out in bold ways, breaking down barriers to access to screening and testing, are critical to reaching underserved and at-risk populations, including Black and brown communities and young adults. Understanding how to frame that urgent call to action and tell the stories of lives saved will create a success loop to maintain our prevention efforts, grow revenue and create long-term behavior change regarding colorectal cancer prevention.
Why is the Alliance the right fit for you at this stage in your career?
Klein: It’s no coincidence that I’m joining the Alliance! My eight-year tenure at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society coincided with the diagnosis, treatment and death of my 54-year-old sister seven years ago from a rare appendiceal cancer. As there was no standard of care, she was treated with a brutal colorectal cancer chemotherapy regimen. I was committed to remaining in the healthcare field, and I am driven to continue to make an impact in advancing better, safer treatments and cures for cancers. I am inspired by the opportunity we have at the Alliance to base our prevention efforts on a strong call to action – get screened. I believe I have come full circle by joining the Alliance at this pivotal time in medical and scientific advances. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the public and media interest in medical science, and we have a responsibility to bring the conversation and care to underserved populations.
About eight years ago, you made a transition from the world of PR agencies to cancer research, advocacy, and patient support. What compelled you to make this change and why have stayed committed to it?
Klein: I’ve been involved in healthcare my whole career, from the agency side and in-house. These experiences have given me a broad perspective of how healthcare and science work – from the industry, provider, patient and caregiver points of view. I joined LLS eight years ago as I was inspired to bring my depth and breadth of healthcare experience to a cancer nonprofit – to approach our awareness and revenue goals from a business and brand POV. We elevated the marketing and communications function to that of a first-class agency, and we saw our impact in awareness and revenue growth. For me, this role at the Alliance is the perfect culmination of my years of work in healthcare, in the for-profit and nonprofit worlds, and I’m excited to join the smart, passionate and driven team at the Alliance for our prevention initiatives.
About the Colorectal Cancer Alliance
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance is a national nonprofit committed to ending colorectal cancer. Working with our nation of passionate allies, we diligently support the needs of patients and families, caregivers, and survivors; eagerly raise awareness of preventative screening; and continually strive to fund critical research. As allies in the struggle, we are fiercely determined to end colorectal cancer within our lifetime. For more information, please visit ccalliance.org.
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