Craig Edwards was a pillar of health before his cancer diagnosis in 2021. Evenings were spent having quality time with his partner Stephanie, his young daughter, and their dog, and on weekends, you could catch him practicing Krav Maga martial arts or setting up a projector in the backyard to stream TV—not poring over health care paperwork or on the phone with doctors. His biggest worries were how to unravel a challenging customer request as an Amazon Web Services (AWS) solutions architect. All that changed when he developed invasive squamous cell carcinoma—a difficult-to-treat type of head and neck cancer given how sensitive the tissue is in that part of the body. Through it all, Amazon’s support for Edwards never wavered.
“My leaders and team have done any and everything that a person could ever ask throughout my cancer journey,” said Edwards. “They sent my family meals and paid for soup for me during the times I couldn’t eat solid food. And at work, they were my body when my body failed me. With the help of my team, my career progression didn’t stop. I was even able to get promoted while undergoing treatment.”
As of June 2023, Edwards is cancer-free once again. He had a complete response to targeted immunotherapy—a course of action he attributes fully to Dr. Ian Ganly at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK), from whom he received his third expert opinion.
“No cancer is visible in my throat anymore, so for now, I will be keeping my voice,” said Edwards. “If I hadn’t had the ability to seek second and third opinions, I would be recovering from laryngectomy surgery right now.”
Amazon has signed the Working with Cancer pledge to signify a continued commitment to providing a supportive workplace culture for employees with cancer. That includes providing leading health care benefits and a dedication to fostering compassion in managers and leaders across the company. A supportive work culture is just one way Amazon employees feel supported amid cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.
Here are three ways Amazon supports employees and their family members affected by cancer.
In-house case management team dedicated to helping any and all cancer-related needs
Amazon has a team solely dedicated to helping navigate work, care, benefits, and resources amid cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. The Amazon Cancer Advocacy, Resources, Education, and Support (CARES) program provides high-touch, one-to-one support for employees—including hourly employees—and employee family members who have been diagnosed with cancer. The CARES program is designed to alleviate employees’ stress related to working while sick and to help with accessing the best possible care, benefits management, health system navigation, appointment scheduling, paperwork, and more. In addition to helping with medical-related needs, CARES case managers can help employees with conversations about cancer diagnosis with managers, Amazon leaders, and human resources (HR) as needed. CARES also provides resources to colleagues of those who have become sick, providing advice on how to best support them. The CARES program—which launched in its 23rd country in June—will expand globally by 2024.
Any Amazon employee or their family members can work with a CARES case manager, regardless of the employee’s job function or if they are full- or part-time, enrolled in a medical plan through Amazon or not. CARES is currently available in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
World-class cancer resources and information
Amazon also partners with AccessHope to provide employees and their families access to the latest in cancer knowledge directly from National Cancer Institute–Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, such as the aforementioned MSK, as well as City of Hope, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Through this partnership, employees and family members can call AccessHope’s Cancer Support Team upon receiving a cancer diagnosis, to get help understanding treatment choices and the type of cancer, gain access to educational materials, gather information about clinical trials, and receive support in preparing for a doctor’s visit.
Covered travel and lodging to get expert opinions at leading cancer centers
Employees and family members can also use AccessHope to receive an expert evaluation from a center of excellence. Airfare, lodging, and ground transportation for the employee or family member (and a loved one) is covered and coordinated through AccessHope. For those unable to travel, or those who choose not to, a virtual option is also available. Employees or family members can choose to get a remote expert opinion that includes a written report and conversation with a doctor.
In addition to cancer-related support, Amazon offers all regular full-time employees a comprehensive benefits package, which includes health insurance from an employee’s first day on the job, a 401(k) plan with a company match, up to 20 weeks of paid leave for birthing parents, free mental health support, access to subsidized skills training opportunities, and more. Learn more about Amazon Benefits.