By CHAD ABSHIRE
Cancer is a terrible thing, an unfortunate fact of life; and it’s difficult, perhaps impossible, to battle it alone.
According to a press release from the American Cancer Society, women in Mingo County have lower than average cancer screening rates and higher than average cancer death rates.
As such, the American Cancer Society is looking for volunteers in Mingo County to educate local women about breast, cervical and colorectal cancers; to make sure that other women have access to lifesaving screening tests.
The ACS trains volunteer Community Health Advisors (CHA) on the basics of cancer and health disparities and provides information on community resources to help women get screened for the disease.
“Volunteers help the ACS save lives,” Vicky Hughes, manager of the CHA program in Mingo County, said. “CHAs spread positive health messages in their communities and truly multiply the impact that the ACS can have as an organization.”
The ACS expects that the CHA program would help eliminate the high number of new cases and deaths from cancer in Mingo County that are at higher risk for breast, cervical and colon cancers, a press release stated.
“If someone has to choose between paying their utilities and feeding their family or paying for a doctor’s visit for a cancer screening because they do not have adequate medical insurance, people will often forego their cancer prevention and early detection screenings,” Hughes said.
“Our CHAs will help these individuals understand the importance of cancer screenings and may help them find access to free or low-cost screenings in their community so they don’t have to choose between their health and home.”
Regular screening examinations by health care professionals can result in the early detection and removal of precancerous growths, as well as the diagnosis of cancers at an early stage, when they are the most treatable.
Cancers of the cervix, colon and rectum can be prevented by removal of precancerous tissue. Cancers that can be diagnosed early through screening include cancers of the breast, colon, rectum, cervix, prostate, oral cavity and skin.
However, screening is known to reduce mortality only for cancers of the breast, colon, rectum and cervix, the cancer sites volunteers in the CHA program would focus on with education and access to resources.
During March, National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, the ACS encourages people to learn their family history of colon cancer and reminds men and women 50 and older to get screened for the disease even if they have no family history, the release stated.
People with a family history are at higher risk and may need to be screened earlier.
The ACS recommends that adults maintain a healthy weight by being physically active, eating a well-balanced diet with a limited intake of processed and red meats and limiting alcohol use. Society-trained CHAs would share this information and other educational tools about colorectal cancer with area women, as well as provide details on local screening programs.
Outside of West Virginia, the Society is also implementing the CHA program in five counties and the Cherokee reservation in North Carolina, as well as in New Orleans, La.; Little Rock, Ark.; Memphis, Tenn.; Jackson, Miss.; Mobile, Ala.; and Eastern Kentucky.
The next training will take place the last week of April 2012.
For more information about becoming a CHA volunteer or about the CHA program, contact Hughes at firstname.lastname@example.org, 304-757-8714 (office) or 304-638-5730 (mobile).