In May 2019, a landmark visit to the House of Hope on the Navajo Nation included Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, former Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden, and other tribal leaders and allies marked this effort as the first full-time cancer care center on an American Indian Reservation.

It garnered a national story from the Associated Press, front-page coverage in the Arizona Daily Sun and in Native American publications, and a story in Cancer Today, a magazine that reaches the oncology community, patients, and thought leaders.

The landmark achievement is symbol of successful collaboration between multiple organizations—starting with the facility that will provide this care. The Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (TCRHCC) is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. TCRHCC contracts with the federal government to provide health care to Navajo, Hopi, and San Juan Southern Paiute patients on the Navajo Nation.

The culturally-adapted cancer care center at TCRHCC will provide oncology services to the Navajo and Hopi people. In addition, the programming will include patient- and caregiver-support and navigation TCRHCC developed in partnership with CSC through generous funding from the Barbara Bradley Baekgaard Family Foundation.

The new center will fill a gap in cancer treatment that affects many American Indians, as the Indian Health Service provides primary medical care, but specialty care – including oncology – is beyond its mission.

Consequently, patients on the Navajo Nation—which is the size of West Virginia—must travel hundreds of miles from home to access cancer treatment and support services. Accessibility is an issue, as transportation costs of seeking off-reservation cancer care can be insurmountable barriers to treatment for American Indian patients who live in communities where unemployment rates are above 50% and household incomes are below the national poverty level.