City of Hope held its third annual Closing the Care Gap event Monday evening (Aug. 28) in association with its Music, Film and Entertainment Industry (MFEI) fundraising group. Focusing on the progress that’s being made while overcoming the challenges that still exist in bringing quality health care to underserved communities, the event was hosted by YouTube and Google global head of music Lyor Cohen and Epic Records chairperson/CEO Sylvia Rhone. Cohen is also MFEI’s 2023 Spirit of Life honoree. He’ll accept the award at City of Hope’s annual gala on Oct. 18.
Held at the Los Angeles home of real estate agent and TV personality Josh Flagg, Closing the Care Gap began with a welcome from Evan Lamberg, president of North America for Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG). Among the healthcare experts, entertainment industry professionals and prominent music industry executives on hand were City of Hope’s Dr. John D. Carpten and Kristin Bertell, 300 Entertainment CEO Kevin Liles, UMPG CEO Jody Gerson, CAA head of music and past Spirit of Life honoree Rob Light, former BET CEO Debra Lee, Republic Records executive vp Danielle Price Sanders, 50/50 Music Group Management CEO Willie “Prophet” Stiggers and songwriter Justin Tranter.
In addressing the audience, Cohen said, “The more you give, the more you receive. And today we are all in the business of giving — of our time, our influence, our connections and experiences. It’s our responsibility to do the work to close the care gap. We need to provide access to early detection with routine screenings and better treatment and, of course, resources and education that help increase health equity.”
Rhone, MFEI’s 2019 Spirit of Life honoree, introduced Cohen to the audience. “I’m grateful to have the privilege to help solve these challenges with our industry and give everyone fighting cancer the hope they deserve,” she said.
According to statistics shared by City of Hope, only 20% of cancer patients in the United States are treated at National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers like City of Hope. In the meantime,
economically disadvantaged and racially diverse communities face systemic barriers that limit their ability to find and sustain specialized, lifesaving care.
Dr. John Carpten, director of City of Hope’s National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and director of the Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope as well as the organization’s chief scientific officer and the Irell & Manella Cancer Center Director’s Distinguished Chair, further amplified the equity issue. “Too many people needlessly suffer due to lack of access to the latest medical innovations and systemic barriers that prevent them from getting the best cancer care,” he said. “At City of Hope, we are working to carry out solutions that increase the likelihood that every person living with cancer — regardless of race or region — can get the best care.”
Culture Collective CEO and MFEI board member Jonathan Azu added a personal note by sharing his journey after being diagnosed with prostate cancer at age 44. Growing up in a family of medical professionals, he had access to resources and health care that many don’t.
“My outcome is going to be a lot better because of the prostate cancer screening and active surveillance I was able to receive,” Azu said. “There’s nothing I’m more passionate about than breaking the barriers that prevent those who look like me from getting access to screenings and treatment that could save their lives.”
Bertell, City of Hope’s chief philanthropy officer, closed the evening by noting, “You are part of the movement. Your philanthropic partnership supports us in removing obstacles to care for everyone. We cannot cure cancer if we don’t cure it for all.”
Closing the Care Gap is part of a year-long fundraising initiative by City of Hope that will conclude with MFEI’s Spirit of Life Gala honoring Cohen. The gala will celebrate 50 years of philanthropic partnership with MFEI on Oct. 18 at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles.