Relay for Life funds benefit local cancer patients

Thursday, July 15, 2004
Sherrie Dupwe Mitchell (left), a Community Program Representative for Northeast Arkansas with the American Cancer Society, visited Piggott Community Hospital last Thursday to hang up a sign with free brochures about various American Cancer Society programs. Mitchell discussed the brochures with Debby Haywood, Administrative Assistant at PCH, and Tom Stickel, Clinical Services Coordinator for PCH. (Times photo/Jennifer Vernon)

The American Cancer Society has a new campaign underway to help make the public aware of the many ways cancer patients benefit from the money raised through the Relay for Life.

On Thursday, July 8, Sherrie Dupwe Mitchell, Community Program Representative for Northeast Arkansas for the American Cancer Society (ACS), visited Piggott Community Hospital to install a sign in the emergency room/outpatient surgery waiting room at the facility.

"We have an 800 number that people can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to get cancer information, learn about transportation grants, financial assistance and other ACS resources," Mitchell said.

Most patients are unaware the assistance may be available in the form of gas vouchers or transportation grants to help cover the cost of traveling to other towns to receive treatment. Mitchell said chemo patients are eligible for gas vouchers and radiation patients are eligible for transportation grants. Transportation grants are available for transportation to the Ben E. Owens Cancer Center at St. Bernard's Regional Medical Center in Jonesboro.

The 800 number, 1-800-ACS-2345, was created after the assistance system was restructured. All requests are handled through the number and that has streamlined the process.

Mitchell, who has been with the ACS for two years, said that the printing of the brochures and signs was paid for by the Don Cavenaugh Auto Dealership. Cavenaugh lost his mother to the disease.

"We want people to understand that the money raised at the Relay for Life goes to fund these programs," she said. The Relay for Life is the organization's main fundraiser. According to the brochure, in 2002 Relay events nationwide raised $210 million. The Clay County Relay for Life raised $74,799.37 in 2004 and was co-chaired by Jim and Donna Seal.

Funding the programs and cancer research go hand in hand for the ACS. Large sums of money for research are given to UAMS Cancer Research Center and St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

The brochures provide information about several of ACS programs including Reach to Recovery, Man to Man, Look Good...Feel Better, I Can Cope, financial assistance, acquiring wigs and turbans, student programs, lodging and the Cancer Survivors Network.

Reach to Recovery is a program for breast cancer patients that is worked by breast cancer survivors. Survivors are called with the information of a newly diagnosed patient and sets up a time to visit with them about programs that are available and to offer them their support. Currently, Clay County is in need of volunteers for the program.

Peggy Cook is currently the sole volunteer in Clay County. Cook was the 2004 Honorary Chairperson for the Clay County Relay.

Reach to Recovery volunteers have to go through a certification process and must be breast cancer survivors who have been in remission for a year. To volunteer or let the coordinator know about someone who might benefit from the program, persons may call Lou Anne at 870-934-0566.

Man to Man is a similar program for prostate cancer patients. To volunteer or let the coordinator know about someone who might benefit from the program, persons may call Raul at 870-892-9329.

Look Good...Feel Better is a program most people are aware of. The program is a cosmetic program for women going through cancer treatment. Sessions of the program are scheduled in various locations throughout the year. At each session patients receive make-up, hair and skin care tips from licensed cosmetologists.

I Can Cope is a four-week course to educate patients about coping techniques to deal with facing cancer and treatment procedures. It is offered throughout the year.

Accessories needed by patients are provided by the ACS to treatment centers. Several area salons offer assistance in locating and styling wigs. Patients are encouraged to contact the ACS or their local treatment facility about accessories that are available.

The student programs include college scholarships for young cancer survivors and camps for children who have or have had cancer.

Lodging for patients and their families can be acquired through hospitals for free or discounted rates. Patients should call the hospital's main number to find available lodging resources. The ACS can offer additional sources for lodging through its 800 number.

The Cancer Survivors Network unites those whose lives have been touched by the disease. It is not only for survivors, but also for family members and caregivers as well. Persons may learn more about the network by visiting the ACS website and clicking on the Cancer Survivors Network link at or by calling 877-333-HOPE.

The brochure also provides a list of local support groups with their meeting times and leader's contact information.

The mission statement of the American Cancer Society states that it is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy and service.

By the year 2015 the society hopes to reduce cancer mortality rates by 50 percent, reduce cancer incidence rates by 25 percent and measurably improve the quality of life for all cancer survivors.

For more information about the American Cancer Society or any of its programs, persons may call 1-800-ACS-2345.

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