The National Cancer Legal Services Network held its second annual conference on Friday, November 16, 2012 in New York City. The conference, cohosted by Pfizer and the New York Legal Assistance Group’s LegalHealth, brought together attorneys and healthcare professionals who advocate for the legal needs of people with cancer.

“We are thrilled to see the great turnout at this year’s conference, especially given the devastation in the New York in the aftermath of Storm Sandy,” said Randye Retkin, Director, LegalHealth. “Now more than ever it is important for those who advocate for cancer patients and their families to come together to  talk about issues, trends and best practices in the field of legal advocacy for the seriously ill – many of whom were impacted by the storm in the New York region and beyond. I am so grateful to Pfizer for their support and thank everyone who participated.”

Over 50 people were in attendance to learn about recent legal and programmatic developments that can affect patients and their families.   Expert panelists covered such topics as the role of legal services in patient navigation, the implications of health care reform, developments in insurance coverage, information about program models and strategies for coping with compassion fatigue.

Keynote speaker Dr. Eric Manheimer, former Medical Director, Bellevue Hospital and author of Twelve Patients: Life and Death, shared what he learned as a doctor on the front lines at a major medical facility caring for cancer patients, but also dealing with his own cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment. In the aftermath of Storm Sandy, Dr. Manheimer addressed how displacement by a natural disaster affects people with serious illnesses and how the “darkness made things visible” regarding health care needs and healthcare inequities.