Once, when I was back home in Florida, I was buying some candy at a drug store. The store was collecting for the ACS and asked the person in front of me if they wanted to give a dollar. This hard-hearted person said no, and gave the reason: “People smoke to get cancer. It’s their own fault.”
That was one of the most ignorant things I had ever heard. My mother was recently diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and had never smoked in her life. My grandfather got skin cancer from a life of farming. Some cases of lung cancer may well be self-inflicted, but those patients still deserve the best treatment available.
I hear people say they are not Relay fans because the money leaves the county. Some of it does, yes. But is that a bad thing? Say your contribution goes to a research hospital like the University of Kentucky, Louisville or Vanderbilt. This research provides clinical trials for new drugs and new treatments. These treatments in turn will help my mother and grandfather back home, and people right here in Marshall County.
At The Paducah Sun, one of my duties was to cover the heath care beat. One of my favorite subjects for an interview was an oncologist at one of Paducah’s two hospitals. Let me tell you, if I were ever diagnosed with cancer, his office would be my first stop. In speaking with him, I learned that many types of cancer can be treated with the same techniques used in the big hospitals right there in Paducah. Access to these treatments in nearby hospitals shows what ACS research means. Instead of a three-hour trip to a big hospital, it’s a 30-minute ride to Paducah.
Some people have to travel because they have a rare type of cancer. In December, I had the privilege of talking to Tristan Spindler, a 13-year-old who has been battling Ewing’s sarcoma since 2011. Rather than confronting his disease with fear, he remained positive he would overcome. New science increases his odds of survival every day. Tristan, I hope you are doing well, and can’t wait to write the story about you beating your disease.
ACS helps people who need the treatment. Marshall County residents can use the ACS Hope Lodge when they travel. It’s a free place to stay for people needing to travel. When fighting cancer, saving money on lodging is a blessing.
I love watching women in the Look Good, Feel Better campaign. I’ve interviewed quite a few who said they were frightened of treatment and feared chemotherapy would harm their appearance. They learn to care for themselves in treatment, feel normal about their appearance and more than that, make some friends going through the same thing.
Reach to Recovery gives patients a point of contact to share experiences. Volunteers are available right here in Marshall County.
You want to talk about ACS work coming back to the county? Think about your last physical. Did you have a mammogram or pap smear? Men, did you receive a rather less-than-pleasant, but potentially life-saving check for prostate cancer? Yes, because of ACS research and advocacy, these tests are now routine, and are detecting cancer early.
What was once a diagnosis of death is now a very treatable disease in many cases. Next time you’re going to the car wash, look out for a youth group washing cars as a Relay fund raiser. Put a couple of extra dollars in the plate when it’s Relay Sunday. Buy a shirt or a luminary. Find a way to support Relay and help the ACS find a cure.