CancerCare® was founded in 1944 in New York City with the mission of helping advanced cancer patients. The lamp was chosen as the symbol for the organization because its light represented warmth, comfort and hope.

From the very beginning, CancerCare provided financial assistance for home care, as well as counseling by professional oncology social workers. By 1980, CancerCare was helping more than 25,000 people with its free counseling services, which to this day are the heart of the organization’s work.

During the 1980s and 1990s, technological advances helped the organization grow to its current national scope. The toll-free counseling line, Connect Education Workshops and website all made CancerCare’s services available to people across the country.

Today, CancerCare programs and services help 180,000 people each year. We distribute 540,000 publications and welcome 2.3 million website visits annually. In the past year, CancerCare provided more than $14.2 million in financial assistance. The size and scope of CancerCare has grown tremendously since 1944, but it has never wavered from its mission of providing help and hope to people affected by cancer.


  1. 1944

    The signing of papers of incorporation for theNational Foundation for the Care of Advanced Cancer Patients. The signing of papers of incorporation for the National Foundation for the Care of Advanced Cancer Patients (later called CancerCare).

  2. 1946

    The first CancerCare Chapter was founded in Flatbush, Brooklyn. For many years chapters served as the link between the community and the organization.

  3. 1954

    CancerCare’s bequest program begins with a large donation from the estate of CancerCare supporter Cecile Sawyer.

  4. 1964

    New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner proclaims CancerCare Week during a ceremony at City Hall. New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner proclaims CancerCare Week during a ceremony at City Hall.

  5. 1969

    CancerCare produces 'A Special Kind of Care', a nationally recognized film CancerCare produces "A Special Kind of Care," a nationally recognized film. The film showed how the organization provided care to advanced cancer patients and their families. Doctors, students of social work and health care professionals around the nation viewed this movie.

  6. 1983

    CancerCare honors Rawleigh Warner, CEO of Mobil, at its first Human Services Award Dinner. CancerCare honors Rawleigh Warner, CEO of Mobil, at its first Human Services Award Dinner. The Human Services Award Dinner continues to this day, raising more than $500,000 for the organization every year.

  7. 1985

    Executive Director Diane Blum, MSW acts as co-founder of National Breast Cancer Awareness Week. CancerCare Executive Director Diane Blum, MSW acts as co-founder of National Breast Cancer Awareness Week. This week recognized a major cause of death among women in the United States and educated the public about the importance of early detection. Today, the month of October continues to be National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a major cancer awareness effort.

  8. 1990

    CancerCare offers its first Telephone Education Workshop on the topic: "Doctor, Can We Talk?" Today, CancerCare organizes more than 50 Connect Education Workshops each year reaching more than 42,000 people with current, expert information on a variety of cancer-related topics.

  9. 1994

    CancerCare becomes a national organization with the establishment of its toll-free counseling line which extended its counseling, support groups, educational workshops, resources and professional education to people throughout the country.

  10. 1996

    CancerCare goes online with email and its website,

  11. 2000

    CancerCare receives its first grant from the Avon Foundation, marking the beginning of the Avon Grants program. The $2.1 million grant helped women with breast, ovarian and cervical cancers with financial assistance and support programs.

  12. 2004

    Mayor Bloomberg Proclaims November 1-7 as CancerCare Week. CancerCare turns 60, and is again celebrated with a CancerCare Week proclamation by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

  13. 2005

    CancerCare is selected by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Foundation to distribute its funds for cancer patients in the Gulf Coast area affected by the devastating Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. CancerCare distributed more than $500,000 directly to cancer patients within four months of receiving the grant.

  14. 2007

    The Institute of Medicine issues a comprehensive report calling for a new standard of care for all cancer patients that includes psychosocial services as part of the regular course of their treatment. CancerCare is one of the organizations named in the report as providing these vital services to people with cancer and their loved ones. CancerCare Executive Director Diane Blum served on the prestigious 15-member panel that produced the report.

  15. 2008

    CancerCare launches a co-payment foundation to help cover the cost of health insurance co-payments for treatment for people diagnosed with certain types of cancer. In its first three years of operation, the CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation distributed $8.4 million to more than 10,000 cancer patients.

  16. 2009

    CancerCare launches its Door-to-Door program with a generous grant to provide transportation assistance to people undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma.

  17. 2009

    CancerCare launches a helpline for women facing ovarian cancer, in partnership with the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and L’Oreal; and a helpline for women facing Triple- Negative breast cancer, in partnership with the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation.

  18. 2009

    In December, after 20 years as Executive Director of CancerCare, Diane Blum steps down to lead the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

  19. 2010

    CancerCare partners with the Melanoma Research Foundation to launch a helpline for people facing melanoma. It is the fifth toll- free helpline operated by CancerCare’s staff of professional oncology social workers.

  20. 2010

    CancerCare provides counseling and practical help to more than 110,000 people affected by cancer, and gives $4.2 million to more than 26,500 people to help cover transportation, child care and home care costs related to their treatment.

  21. 2013

    CancerCare Co-Payment Assistance Foundation launches its new website, providing patients with same-day approval. The latest technology, hosted by DiseaseTrak, enables a higher standard of care for people coping with cancer by allowing faster access to co-payment assistance.

  22. 2013

    CancerCare launches the new edition of "A Helping Hand" The Ultimate Financial Resource Guide for People with Cancer. This comprehensive handbook features the most up- to-date contact information and descriptions for hundreds of national and regional organizations offering financial help to people with cancer.

  23. 2013

    CancerCare announces the appointment of Brian Tomlinson, MPA, BSW to the position of Chief Program and Communications Officer. Mr. Tomlinson, who began his career as a social worker, is a highly respected national advocate for cancer patients and their families.

  24. 2014

    Patricia J. Goldsmith joins CancerCare in 2014 as Chief Executive Officer, overseeing the vision and direction of the organization. Ms. Goldsmith brings more than 20 years of nonprofit management and strategic planning experience to the role, and has a proven track record of success.

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