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Cancer study needs local volunteers

'Champions' to encourage others to get involved

POSTED: February 18, 2013 12:16 a.m.

Every generation wants to improve the lives of the next, but what if you could save the lives of future generations right now?

The American Cancer Society, in partnership with Northeast Georgia Medical Center, is offering the community a chance to take a proactive role in cancer prevention.

The ACS is looking for “champions” in the Gainesville area who are interested in participating in an upcoming cancer prevention study. Champions will also help spread the word throughout the community to encourage others to get involved.

The Cancer Prevention Study-3 is a nationwide effort designed to help researchers better understand the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer.

This generation’s exposures are very different from the past in a lot of ways. New environmental pollutants, changes in overall lifestyles, changes in diet and other factors could play an important role in discovering the reasons why some people do or don’t develop cancer.

The study will enroll a diverse population of 300,000 people from across the U.S. between the ages of 30-65.

Participants will provide a waist measurement and a small blood sample and will complete a comprehensive survey about their lifestyle and other health factors. Participants will be asked to commit to a follow-up survey every few years for 20 years.

The NGMC will host a kickoff event for the study at 7:30 and 9 a.m. Feb. 26, in the Walters Auditorium at the hospital.

Those interested in becoming champions can attend the breakfast to learn more about the study and how they can help encourage others in the community to get involved.

“Our goal is to recruit 40 or more CPS-3 champions and enroll a total of at least 400 participants during this time,” said Rachel Joiner, mission delivery manager with ACS.

“In order to reach these targets we need passionate people who are committed to fighting cancer.”

Cancer has found a formidable foe in champion Lori Kopesky.

Kopesky’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer in April of 2010. She is now his caregiver. Another relative died in 1996 from the disease. Over the years she’s watched as her friends’ and family’s lives have been rattled by the disease.

“I’ve definitely been affected by cancer in many areas,” Kopesky said.

She said she’s ready to put an end to that for future generations, no matter how long it takes.

“I don’t care if it takes 20 years to find what they need to find,” Kopesky said. “I don’t care what kind of time; if it saves a life, that is what is most important to me.”

Todd Sigmon, executive director of oncology at NGMC, said the study is a great opportunity for the people of Gainesville to help countless others down the road.

“It’s not going to help people right now, but it is going to help future generations,” Sigmon said.

He said cancer, by its very nature, is individualized and could be caused and prevented by any number of factors.

Helping researchers find out what those factors may be will have a huge impact on curing and preventing the disease.

“Cancer affects all of us,” Sigmon said. “If it doesn’t affect us, it affects our families. Any opportunity to learn more about the disease and what may cause the disease is an opportunity for us all to be a part of something bigger than we are.”


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