When Beerman, a two-time breast cancer survivor who works with Quest Diagnostics, changed the question to ask people if they did know someone who’s had cancer, nearly all of the 300 attendees raised their hands.
“The goal for us at CPS-3 is to have the show of hands like the first time I asked,” Beerman said.
CPS-3 is the third cancer prevention study the cancer society has backed. While its initial study in the 1950s showed a link between smoking and lung cancer that eventually led to a surgeon general’s warning on cigarette packages, and ultimately a decrease in smoking and lung cancer rates, the new study seeks to look at the impact of genetics and lifestyle on causing cancer.
“They’re going to look at what you come in with in your body that would predispose you to cancer,” said Donna Meyer, survivorship coordinator at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute. “They look at what you eat, what medications you take, how active you are, to try to figure out what kind of things contribute to the development of cancer.”
Once the results are gathered, Meyer said an education campaign will show people what changes they need to make in order to prevent cancer.
The Cancer Society has found 180,000 of the 300,000 volunteers it is looking for nationally to take part in the study. Of those, it wants 5,000 volunteers in the Atlanta area, the most it’s seeking in any one location. To participate, volunteers must be between 30 and 65 years old and never have suffered from cancer.
The cancer society will sign up volunteers for the study at 21 area locations, four of which are in Cobb County, between March 1-15. Volunteers will go to one of the sites, where they will fill out a survey, have blood drawn and get a waist measurement. Red Cross spokeswoman Elissa McCrary said the process takes 20 to 30 minutes. Volunteers will then be required to take a new survey every two or three years for the rest of their lives.
For information on registering, go online at cancer.org.
Meyer said the study seeks to “pay it forward” to help the generation have a lower cancer rate.
“There’s been a steady decrease over the years, and we really want to eradicate cancer within the next century,” she said.
Thursday’s event featured taped messages from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and former Atlanta Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren, who was in attendance. McCrary said 285 tickets were sold, but some didn’t make it because of rainy weather and the traffic problems it caused.
Linda Lee of Kennesaw, a volunteer with the American Cancer Society since 1986, wasn’t able to make it to the breakfast, but she plans to help get people to take part in the survey. Lee, who handles community education for WellStar Health System’s cancer program, plans to go beyond the 10 people the cancer society is asking each volunteer to recruit.
“With the contacts I have, I can reach out to 150 people,” she said. “It’s something that everybody who is of age should take part in. It takes very little time and, if you can stop somebody from getting cancer, it’s well worth the time.”