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Cancer Action is an independent, community based non-profit agency offering an array of programs and services addressing the physical, social, emotional and financial needs of persons with cancer, their family, and friends. 

As a caring community of professionals and volunteers, we offer support, education, empowerment, hope and comfort to those touched by cancer. 

"When I came in to see you, you showered me with so much.  My chemo and radiation were a success.  My next step is surgery.  I am looking forward to a complete recovery.  God bless you all for what you do! ."


Our Mission


Cancer Action is dedicated to reducing distress and promoting the well-being for those living with, through and beyond cancer in the Greater Kansas City area. 

Our History and Evolvement

Our History and Evolvement


It is amazing what vision, hard work and compassion can accomplish! 

In 2019, Cancer action celebrated 60 years of serving those living with, through and beyond cancer in Kansas City.  A local and independent nonprofit, Cancer Action opened in 1959 to serve the tangible needs of people living with cancer in the Greater Kansas City area.  

We were established as an independent, non-profit originally called "The Cancer Association of Wyandotte County.  We began in a garage with an army of volunteers, under the leadership of the first Executive Secretary, Selma Calene, who was also a volunteer.  With a passion to help families who were struggling with this difficult illness, the group made hand-made comfort items and collected medical supplies that were given to families to help care for their loved ones.
Eventually, our name was changed to Cancer Action! While our name changed, our strong commitment to community is still at the heart and mission of the organization today. 

Over the years, our scope has evolved to empower cancer patients and their families by helping to meet the financial, physical and emotional needs throughout their cancer journey.  Cancer care has changed tremendously in the past 60 years. Thankfully, advances in treatment and early detection has led to millions of cancer survivors and others living longer with cancer. 

Cancer Action programs and services have grown and changed to meet the continuing needs of cancer patients in our community.  Today, we provide a vast array of programs and services including financial assistance programs, practical and direct services, educational and emotional support, and wellness and survivorship programs. 


Each year, more than 9,000 people in the Kansas City area will hear the words “you have cancer” and need a place of help and support.

  • Cancer Action serves a six-county area that includes Jackson, Cass, Clay and Platte counties in Missouri and Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas.  Some types of support are offered to a cancer patient being treated in Kansas City regardless of their residence.

  • Cancer Action provides Practical & Direct Service: Emotional & Educational Support; Financial Assistance Programs and Wellness & Survivorship Programs.

  • Most Cancer Action services are free of charge.

  • Cancer Action provides medical equipment and distributes medical supplies and nutritional supplements to help ease the high cost of a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer Action has been recognized nationally with the prestigious award of “Partner in Patient Support” from the National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service, and locally with the 2008 Heart of America Ethics in Business Award, the first given to a non-profit organization. Cancer Action's Volunteer Program has received many recognitions locally and regionally through the years.

While much has changed, the very “heart” of the organization has remained the same and we remain strong in our mission to offer support through every step of the cancer journey!

Our Team

Our Team


It is because of the work of our dedicated staff, Board of Directors and volunteers that we are able to provide the services and programs we do.  We continuously work to make a positive impact in the lives of those on the cancer journey.

Administrative Office  

Karla Nichols, LSCSW 

Executive Director 


Shirley Gibson, LMSW 

Program Director 


Kansas Office 

Lois Green, MSW 

Case Manager 


Missouri Office 


Martha Bird, BSW 

Case Manager 


Amber Talmage, MA 

Case Manager 


Board of Directors

Board of Directors



Brian Levinson

Community Volunteer, Marketing


Elaine McIntosh

Retired, CEO Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care

Rhonda Cherry,
Social Worker, University of Kansas Cancer Center



Matthew Allin
Senior Internal Auditor, St. Luke's Health System


Melanie Simpson, PhD

Ambulatory COVID Operations, University of Kansas Health Systems


Ericka Anderson
Copywriter, AAFP, Trozzolo

Molly Buchanan

Vice President, Advisory & Managed Services, Walker


Samuel Burnett
Attorney, National Advisors Trust Company


Janet Hall
Retired Teacher, Cancer Survivor

David Harris

Vice President, Commercial Real Estate, US Bank

Jo Beth Herrick
Clinic Manager, Swope Health

John Kamphaus
Community Bank Division Manager, Bank of Labor

Kevin Killilea

Vice President, CFO/COO Soave Automotive Group

Anita Macan
CEO/Founder, Making Positivity, LLC

Clinical Trials Financial analyst, University of Kansas Health Systems

Joe Otey

Retired, Accounting and Banking

Lindsey Reed

Division Director of Navigation, Sarah Cannon Institute/

HCA Midwest Health

Vangie Rich

Community Volunteer 

Tina Shropshire

Supervisor, Oncology/Hematology & Patient Navigation

                     University Health

Sarah Taylor, M.D.

Professor Emeritus, KU Medical Center, Oncology Physician 


Karen Winney

Realtor, Keller Williams

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