Emotionally, it is a life-changing word that leaves everyone it comes into contact with, directly or indirectly, looking for information, treatment and help. That word is cancer.
Numerically, it affects more than 18 million people in the United States. And there is no cure.
Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the American populace, and there are more than 100 different types known to doctors. Virtually everyone has been affected by cancer, either in their own bodies or in the bodies of someone they know and love.
Though there is not yet a cure, many treatments have been developed to fight its progress within the human body. These treatments range from chemotherapy to radiation treatments, and while they have a high rate of success, often times the cancer is discovered too late.
To combat and reduce the number of cancer deaths, the American Cancer Society, the leader in research and fundraising to combat all types of cancer from a national to an individual level, started its largest fundraiser: Relay for Life.
Within this large fundraiser are several smaller fundraisers, and a large culminating event intended to raise money for research, various assistance programs, and preventative education.
According to Ginny St. Onge, community director for ACS, 90 percent of the dollars raised during Relay for Life in Haralson County will remain in Haralson County, assisting local cancer patients through various ACS programs.
“We raised about $46,000 last year, and $42,000 of that stayed in the county,” St. Onge said. “The rest goes to national, our 1-800 number, the Web site, and research.”
St. Onge said that Haralson County residents living with cancer have the opportunity to participate in programs like Look Good Feel Better, a cosmetology program for women undergoing cancer treatments; Road to Recovery, a driving service to transport patients to and from appointments; mentor and dietitian programs; and Hope Lodge, a home away from home for cancer patients undergoing treatments more than 35 miles away from home.
“These programs are 100 percent free, and they’re funded by Relay for Life dollars,” St. Onge said.
Jasmine Camps, the local mission delivery manager for ACS, said that so far, two Haralson County residents have participated in the Road to Recovery program, and one has taken part in Look Good Feel Better. The Hope Lodge has seen one Haralson County patient, and four patients have taken advantage of a $50 gas card.
In addition to looking for participants for these programs, the ACS is looking for cancer survivors to honor during this year’s Relay For Life. These honor forms are available in print within the Haralson Gateway-Beacon or on the Relay For Life Website.
Jodi Williams, public relations manager for the ACS, said that Haralson County has been one of the most successful relays in the local area.
“Haralson is actually a very interesting relay and fundraising event. The community is so tight-knit. It’s a smaller community, and with the proportion of the amount of money that is raised, more people in your community are using that money,” she said.
The Haralson County Relay for Life event will take place on Friday, May 6, at Haralson County High School. The local Relay For Life has 13 teams, and has raised more than $4,000 so far. The goal for Haralson County is to raise $49,000 by 6 a.m. Saturday, May 7. There will be one more Relay For Life meeting before the event on May 2 at the Haralson County Chamber of Commerce. St. Onge said the meetings are open to anyone: survivors, team members, team captains, and anyone else who is interested in raising money for the event.
The last event before the Relay for Life takes place is a Relay fundraiser at Buchanan United Methodist Church. There will be a car wash with all proceeds benefiting Relay for Life, as well as crafts, food and vendors. The event takes place on April 30 at 10 a.m. at the church.
To register for an ACS program, such as Look Good Feel Better, call at 770-429-0089. For information on other programs and resources, call the ACS at 1-800-227-2345 or visit www.relayforlife.org or www.cancer.org. Haralson County’s individual Relay for Life Web site is www.RelayForLife.org/Haralson.