Coastal Cancer Center Launches Chapter of National Oncology Patient Advocacy Organization

The COA Patient Advocacy Network Puts Patients with Cancer and Survivors at the Forefront of Advocating for Accessible, Affordable Cancer Care

Coastal Cancer Center, a leading provider of comprehensive cancer care in South Carolina, is pleased to announce the establishment of a new chapter of the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) Patient Advocacy Network (CPAN). CPAN is a nationally recognized organization that works diligently to empower patients with cancer, survivors, and their families through education and advocacy. By elevating patient voices, Coastal Cancer Center reaffirms its commitment to delivering compassionate, patient-centered care.

CPAN chapters bring together patients, survivors, caregivers, family members, and oncology professionals to preserve local, quality, affordable cancer care for all. In a world of increasing provider consolidation and complicated policy changes, it is crucial to provide patients with the opportunity to learn about policies and laws that affect their access to care and the ability to voice their concerns to the lawmakers in control of those changes. CPAN members have access to monthly educational webinars, COA national events, and are invited to attend Hill Days in Washington, D.C. to meet with legislators.

The chapter will be led by its advocacy leader, Kristina Blackburn, BSN, RN, OCN, who serves as nursing supervisor for Coastal Cancer Center’s three locations. When asked about the role, Blackburn said, “I am looking forward to increasing the many ways I care for patients by advocating for them and teaching them how to advocate for themselves, at the local and national levels.”

To open the chapter, Rose Gerber, MS, the director of patient advocacy and education at the COA and head of CPAN, provided an introduction to patient advocacy and the educational and advocate opportunities provided by CPAN. Emily Touloukian, DO, president of Coastal Cancer Center and medical co-chair of CPAN, encouraged patients to join CPAN as the first step toward becoming an effective advocate.

“We believe that educated patients are better equipped to face the challenges of cancer,” said Dr. Touloukian. “By opening a CPAN chapter, we aim to give our patients the tools they need to tell policymakers that local, affordable, and high-quality cancer care is vital to the health of their communities.”

The newly established chapter will offer a range of educational and practice-based advocacy opportunities, including monthly CPAN Advocacy Chats, where experts from around the industry cover topics like the latest in cancer policy, nutrition, mental health, and treatment; the annual COA Conference, where advocates from all parts of the country gather to learn more about the current state of community cancer care; and participating in local and national Hill Days to meet with lawmakers about supporting community-based cancer care.

To close out the opening ceremony, Rose Gerber encouraged the new chapter members to dive into the advocacy world.

“The most frequently asked question I hear from patients and survivors, and the question I asked myself as I began my own cancer journey, was: how do I ensure others receive the same standard of treatment that I’m receiving? My answer was advocacy. Take the time to learn about the issues facing patients and practices, create coalitions with other advocates, and be proactive. Your work as advocates is the bedrock of excellent cancer care. I urge you to remember that your voice can change things for the better.”


About the Community Oncology Alliance (COA)

The Community Oncology Alliance (COA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for community oncology practices and, most importantly, the patients they serve. For more than 20 years, COA has been the only organization dedicated solely to community oncology where the majority of Americans with cancer are treated. The mission of COA is to ensure that patients with cancer receive quality, affordable, and accessible cancer care in their own communities. More than 5,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with cancer every day and, deaths from the disease have been steadily declining due to earlier detection, diagnosis, and treatment. Learn more at  Follow COA on Twitter at or on Facebook at

About the COA Patient Advocacy Network (CPAN)

The Community Oncology Alliance Patient Advocacy Network (CPAN) is a chapter-based national advocacy organization committed to raising awareness of independent, community cancer care centers and how national and local health care policy issues may affect patient care. CPAN’s network of more than 30 community cancer practice-based chapters spans 17 states, connecting and activating committed, passionate people who advocate for the protection of locally delivered cancer care. CPAN advocates include patients, survivors, caregivers and members of the oncology care team. CPAN advocates share personal stories so policymakers and the community can understand the importance of personalized, affordable cancer care close to where patients live and work. Sign up to become an advocate or find your local chapter at

About Coastal Cancer Center

Coastal Cancer Center’s commitment to the community began in 1982 when they started offering their extensive services to both year-round and seasonal residents at their conscientious practice. Over the years, they’ve grown to become a community center whose homey environment is open to everyone looking for consistent and compassionate medical care.

To provide the highest quality and most convenient services, Coastal Cancer Center has an in-house pharmacy to fill prescriptions; in-house imaging that includes PET and CT; as well as an in-house lab and specialty hematology testing (flow cytometry). With infusion centers in each of their clinics and providers having privileges at all area hospitals, they can provide the best quality care. Coastal Cancer Center also is a Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) certified practice.

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