ACS making strides in fight against cancer

Published 8:05 pm Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Just what does the American Cancer Society do for you?

More than what many people might imagine.

Jessica Garrard, Butler County’s ACS community representative, shared some of the facts and figures regarding the ACS’s impact on the county and the nation during Wednesday’s volunteer orientation at the Relay For Life October board meeting at Cambrian Ridge.

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“We are the largest non-profit, nongovernmental source of cancer research funds in the entire country, with more than $2.5 billion invested in cancer research since 1946,” Garrard said.

And everyone battling cancer has benefited from that research, she added.

ACS-funded research have made many breakthroughs, among them:

– Found aspirin use could reduce risk of colon cancer death by half

– Discovered combination chemotherapy as a successful treatment for childhood leukemia

– Proved mammography is an effective screening tool for breast cancer

– Identified smoking as a cause of lung cancer

– Developed breast-conserving surgery using lumpectomy and radiation

– Created the PAP test to detect cervical cancer, reducing deaths from the disease by 70 percent

– Discovered the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer screening

“If you are or have been a cancer patient taking tamoxifen, you have the American Cancer Society to thank,” Garrard said.

“The drug was developed by researchers funded by the ACS. We’ve had 42 of our researchers go on to win the Nobel Prize for scientific achievement. No other organization even comes close to that.”

While the ACS spends approximately $130 billion a year on cancer research, is also offers many other avenues of hope and help to those fighting cancer, Garrard said.

“Anyone who has a question or concern can call 1-800-ACS-2345 24 hours a day, seven days a week and talk to oncologists, nurses, social workers and others who can provide you with the help you need,” she said.

Additional information and guidance can be gleaned from the ACS Website,

“Through Road to Recovery, we offer assistance to people here in the county who need transportation to treatments or help covering travel expenses.

“Our two Hope Lodges, in Mobile and Birmingham, have hosted several patients from Butler County and their family members, saving people thousands of dollars they would have otherwise spent on motel rooms,” Garrard said.

Reach for Recovery pairs a breast cancer survivor with anyone newly diagnosed with cancer to share information and encouragement, and

plans are also in place to re-form the Cancer Support Group in the county, Garrard said.

“We are making strides against cancer. More and more people than ever before are surviving the disease today due to advances in prevention, early detection and treatment,” Garrard said.

In a time of economic recession, “we need the resources ACS provides more than ever,” she added.

“One day, we hope we will no longer need a Relay For Life because cancer will have a cure. Until that day, we have to continue that fight.

“And our organization has few paid workers. It is an army of volunteers like you who make it possible.”