Last year, the Angels of Hope were among 35 Madison County teams who raised money through Relay For Life for the American Cancer Society.
For the last several years, the Madison County Relay For Life has annually raised close to or more than $100,000 for the American Cancer Society (ACS). Where does the money go?
Sue Pairan, ACS Central Ohio Region rep for Madison County, talks a blue streak when answering that question.
"I get to talking fast when it comes to this. Theres so much to say, and its so important for people to know what we do with the money they donate," she said.
First and foremost, ACS is the largest non-government funder of cancer research in the world. The organization has invested over $3.3 billion in cancer research since 1946.
"Anyone who has had a mammogram, pap test, PSA or colonoscopy has been helped by the American Cancer Society because ACS has been part of the research behind them and has set guidelines and testing procedures," Pairan said. "Any woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and treated with Tamoxifen has been helped by ACS because we funded the drug trials."
These are just a few research-related examples. ACS also helps people by initiating change. The organization has decreased the number of people dying from lung cancer by raising tobacco taxes, helped people quit smoking, and created smoke-free communities. ACS also has increased the number of people who have avoided cancer by promoting healthy behaviors like sunscreen use, improved diet and increased exercise.
When it comes to helping cancer patients one-on-one, Pairan said ACS has much to offer—all of it at no cost:
Patient navigators—These trained professionals help patients and their families work through all that comes with being a cancer patient. They find resources for needs like financial assistance, transportation and insurance; they refer patients to support groups, classes and literature about coping with cancer; and, above all, they listen.
"Ive known patient navigators who go as far as to take care of a patients pets while they are getting treatments or organize efforts to provide Christmas gifts for families suffering financial hardship due to their illness. They are a fabulous resource," Pairan said.
Reach to Recovery—Newly diagnosed breast cancer patients are matched with experienced survivors who answer questions and offer support.
Man to Man—Newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients are matched with experienced survivors who answer questions and offer support.
Look Good, Feel Better—Cosmetologists show cancer patients how to apply makeup to and care for skin ravaged by chemotherapy and radiation. Each participant receives a makeup kit worth $200. The program also helps patients learn how to care for wigs and tie turbans.
Hope Watch—Hope Watch is a homey, free place to stay while receiving cancer treatments out-of-town. Ohio is home to two Hope Watch facilities, one in Cleveland and the other in Cincinnati.
Youth Programs—These are designed to educate children about preventable cancers.
Cancer Survivors Network—This online support group is available to survivors and caregivers.
For more information about these and other ACS services and for access to information about cancer and treatments, call toll-free, 1-800-227-2345. ACS national call center is a one-stop shop that can direct callers to local resources. Information is available online, too, at www.cancer.org.
"We like to say, ‘Having cancer is hard; finding help shouldnt be. We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Just call," Pairan said.