Local News

October 3, 2012

Dalton turns out to fight cancer

Some of them had lost a parent or grandparent to cancer. Others had watched a friend or family member battle the disease.

It seemed that nearly everyone taking part in an American Cancer Society (ACS) study on Tuesday at Bradley Wellness Center had been touched by the disease in some way.

“I had a grandmother who died of cancer, and I have a real good friend who is a breast cancer survivor,” said Rocky Face resident Hannah Isenhower. “I work at Dalton State College. Derek Waugh, our athletic director, sent out an email saying he was participating and he would like for us to participate, and I knew that I wanted to do anything I could to help find a cure.”

Waugh was one of the first people through the doors on Tuesday.

“Anytime you have a chance to help prevent cancer you should take it, especially if all you have to do is fill out a survey and let them draw a little blood,” he said. “It’s well worth the time and effort. I want to be a big part of this community, and this is something that the community has gotten behind. I would encourage everyone to do it.”

The ACS is currently conducting a nationwide study of cancer, only the third such study in the organization’s 100-year history. The first ACS study in the 1950s helped demonstrate the link between smoking and lung cancer. The second study in the 1980s showed the link between obesity and several types of cancer.

Lindsi Pearson, ACS area executive director for northwest Georgia, said 22 sites across Georgia will be taking part in the study, which began in 2011 and will end next year.

Dalton is one of the smaller Georgia cities participating.

“We have a great relationship with the community here. We have great volunteers, so it made sense to come here,” she said.

Cynthia Wilson, community manager for the American Cancer Society, said almost everyone who made an appointment had shown up and they’d had more than a dozen walk-ins.

The study drew people from across northwest Georgia and beyond.

Michelle Turner, for instance, lives in Ooltewah, Tenn., but works in Dalton.

“I have family members who’ve had breast cancer, and I just want to do everything I can to help prevent that and find a cure,” she said.

Participants filled out a survey form, had their waist measured and had a small amount of blood drawn. The entire process took about 15 to 20 minutes.

“It was all very simple, very quick and easy,” said Ann Kuzniak, coordinator of Whitfield Family Connection.

Wilson said participants will be contacted periodically over the years with additional surveys to find out how they are doing.

“From my understanding, they will store the blood. I gave my sample today, for instance. If 20 years from now I am diagnosed with cancer, they will be able to go back and look at my survey answers and look at my blood sample and try to see if there is some sort of link,” she said.

ACS officials said they had hoped to get people from groups that don’t typically take part in such studies, such as Hispanics and blacks.

“From what I have been able to see, it has been pretty diverse. But perhaps not as diverse as we had hoped it would be,” Wilson said.

The study continues on Thursday from 1 to 7 p.m. at Bradley Wellness Center. Officials say those who are interested in taking part but haven’t signed up and those who missed an appointment on Tuesday are welcome to walk in.

“This is their dollars at work. This is the money that people donate paying for research in the  community,” said Pearson.

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