Flag Raising at Roswell Park; November 2020

Roswell Park Center For Indigenous Cancer Research Partners With JC Seneca Foundation

Community Patient Navigator positioned at Native Pride twice-monthly for education, screening awareness

  • Community members can receive screening education, management of conditions
  • Indigenous populations more likely to develop certain cancers
  • Patient Navigators come from significant BMS grant awarded in 2021

BUFFALO and IRVING, N.Y. — In 2012, Seneca Nation Businessman J.C. Seneca formed the JC Seneca Foundation (JCSF) with a mission to form partnerships that promote the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual well-being of Native people and their surrounding communities. Since then, Seneca has realized that mission by supporting charitable programs such as It Takes a Tribe, providing sponsorships for initiatives including Bikers Against Child Abuse and The Ride for Dialysis, and forming partnerships with community health organizations such as G-Health Enterprises and Harmonia Collaborative Care. As JCSF moves into its second decade, Seneca is taking steps to further his foundation’s impact.

“Statistics prove that Native People are at greater risk than the majority of Americans when it comes to a number of diseases, mental health issues, and addictions,” says Seneca. “They also are the last on the list when it comes to affordable health insurance that could provide needed care and treatments. That’s why I am pleased to join with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in announcing a partnership between my foundation and their Center for Indigenous Cancer Research (CICR). Our united goal is to offer navigation and screening services at my Native Pride Business on the Tallchief Territory in Irving, to help those on the Cattaraugus and Allegany Territories and surrounding communities learn about and seek treatments for the many forms of cancers afflicting our people.”

“Working together with the JC Seneca Foundation provides a unique opportunity to improve cancer care and access,” says Candace S. Johnson, PhD, President & CEO and M&T Bank Presidential Chair in Leadership at Roswell Park. “This is a proven approach that can help bolster health outcomes in this community.”

This past year, through a $3.3 million grant from the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation, Roswell Park has installed six full-time patient navigators in high-need rural areas and Native Nations across New York State. The funding provides a tailored program of breast and prostate cancer screening education, the continuum of cancer care and management of co-occurring conditions. Community Patient Navigator Marissa Haring, MS, started her twice-monthly sessions open to the community at Native Pride in December.

“We’re that friendly face that you can come and talk to about these crucial topics,” states Ms. Haring. “We can get you screened and be there to answer your questions so you can take charge of your health.”

Proven medical research shows that Indigenous people suffer a disproportionate number of diagnoses and higher mortality rates when it comes to cancer. Statistically, American Indians/Alaska Natives are more likely to develop cervical cancer, experience the highest rates of liver cancer and intrahepatic bile duct cancer and face higher death rates from kidney cancer. In addition, the higher levels of smoking and pre-existing rates of obesity, diabetes, and chronic liver and kidney disease among those in Native Communities can complicate cancer cases and treatments. According to Rodney Haring, PhD, MSW, Director of The Roswell Park Center for Indigenous Cancer Research, forming partnerships with organizations like the JC Seneca Foundation helps meet both the mission and vision of their program.

“The Center is the first of its kind in the Northeast, and aims to honor the values of Indigenous knowledge, sovereignty, and respect for the environment through community-driven partnerships, such as with the JC Seneca Foundation,” says Dr. Haring. “Through our collaborative efforts on the Cattaraugus and Allegany Territories, we will coordinate educational events, host health screenings, and develop action plans to address not only cancer health disparities, but larger issues that impact wellness, such as human’s relationship with the environment. We will learn and apply lessons from both academic medicine and Indigenous knowledge which will not only lead us to cutting-edge cancer services for, and with, Indigenous populations, but to translatable science, medicine and cancer care for Indigenous territories, Nations and populations worldwide.”


About Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center:  Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is a community united by the drive to eliminate cancer’s grip on humanity by unlocking its secrets through personalized approaches and unleashing the healing power of hope. Founded by Dr. Roswell Park in 1898, it is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. Learn more at www.roswellpark.org, or contact us at 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or ASKRoswell@RoswellPark.org.

About the JC Seneca Foundation: The JC Seneca Foundation (JCSF) is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to form partnerships that promote the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual well-being of Native people and their surrounding communities. The foundation accomplishes these purposes through a variety of means including supporting the activities of other charitable organizations and conducting fundraising events. The foundation also sponsors programs such as It Takes A Tribe, a foster care project. http://www.jcsenecafoundation.org/

About J.C. Seneca: J.C. Seneca is a member of the Seneca Nation and owner of Tallchief Territory, Home of Native Pride Travel Plaza, located on the Seneca Nation in Irving, NY. He started his business career in 1987 as a young entrepreneur with big dreams. By 1995 he had developed his own truck stop business and spent the next 25 years building a successful 22-pump gas and diesel service area complimented by a diner, a 24/7 convenience store and shower and lounge services for professional truck drivers. In 2019, Seneca was recognized as a Top 50 Native Business Entrepreneur by Native Business Magazine, a national publication based in Bellevue, WA. In 2021, he was further honored by Buffalo Business First as one of the city’s 250 Most Powerful People in the community. Seneca’s civic leadership is reflected in the creation of the JC Seneca Foundation, a nonprofit corporation with a mission to advance healthy living in body, mind, and spirit for the people of the Seneca Nation and surrounding communities. Backed by a quarter century of goals and achievement, in 2020 Seneca made the decision to reformat his Native Pride Brand by incorporating it with his family’s Seneca Nation Heritage. It is a heritage tied to his great, great, great grandfather, Tallchief, who claimed the land where Seneca began his entrepreneurial journey and today continues to grow his business, now known as, Tallchief Territory Home of Native Pride. https://www.tallchiefterritory.com/ 

Media Contact

Rebecca Vogt, Media Relations Specialist
716-845-4919; rebecca.vogt@roswellpark.org