Fighting for a world with ‘less cancer and more birthdays’

By Sheryl Lynn Carvajal

Certain birthdays are considered milestones in life.  Sweet 16 allows you to get behind the wheel of a car.  At 18, you’re considered a legal adult.  21 means you can legally purchase and drink alcohol, and car insurance rates go down when you hit 25 years of age.

For some people, milestone birthdays occur every year.  They serve as victories for those who are fighting cancer.  The American Cancer Society is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and one of the main goals of this organization is “to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.”  For people who have been diagnosed with cancer, birthdays are celebrations of another year of conquering cancer.

Source: American Cancer Society

Source: American Cancer Society

Cancer research has come a long way in the past 100 years, and the American Cancer Society (ACS) deserves much of the credit.  ACS is the largest non-governmental funder of cancer research, and it has had a major stake in almost every cancer breakthrough since its establishment in 1913.  For example, we can thank the American Cancer Society for helping establish policies surrounding smoke-free public spaces and for being a leader in the fight to cure breast cancer.  The ACS also advocates regular screenings to increase the likelihood of early detection, and promotes healthy lifestyles to prevent cancer from developing altogether.

The big undertaking that the ACS has been involved with recently is a research study called the Cancer Prevention Study-3, or CPS-3.  The aim of this study is to recruit 300,000 adults from different backgrounds from all over the country by the end of 2013 in order to find links to – and ultimately a cure for – cancer.

The American Cancer Society isn’t the only contributor to this life-saving research.  Millions of volunteers throughout the United States dedicate time and money to help this cause.  The good news is that you can make a difference right here in Boston.  Every year, typically all throughout the months of March and April, several communities, schools, and universities host an overnight fundraising walk called Relay for Life®. Teams from these institutions work together to raise money for the ACS to fund cancer research. These efforts collectively make up the world’s largest movement to eliminate cancer.

Relay for Life at Tufts University is occurring on April 12, and you can register to be a part of the Friedman School’s team.  If you’re not sure what to expect at a Relay for Life event, here are some of the basics:

  • Relay for Life is an overnight event from April 12 at 6:00pm through 6:00am on April 13.
  • There is an opening ceremony with a Survivor’s Lap around the track, celebrating those who have won their battles with cancer.
  • Following the Survivor’s Lap, and throughout the entire event, at least one member from each team walks around the track as a relay.
  • Teams set up tables/booths and have different activities, items for sale, and anything they can come up with to raise money for cancer research.
  • Many people dedicate luminaries to those who are no longer with us due to cancer.  At the Luminaria Ceremony, candles are lit inside the personalized bags, and we honor those who have fought cancer in the past and offer hope to those who continue their fight.
  • If it’s not your turn to walk the track, you can visit other booths and check out their ideas for fundraising, and maybe even support their team.
  • All Relay for Life events are family-friendly and open to the public, so games, music, food, and activities occur all throughout the night.  It’s a great opportunity to socialize and unite with other Relay-ers and supporters.

Cancer is a disease that affects not only the estimated 12.5 million individuals diagnosed, but their families and friends as well.  According to the ACS, “Sixty years ago, 1 out of 3 people diagnosed with cancer survived at least 5 years.  Today, thanks in part to the work of the American Cancer Society, 2 out of 3 will survive.  Let’s make it 3 out of 3.”  Relay for Life is a great opportunity to stand up to cancer.  Please join in if you’d like to fight for more victories, more survivors, and more birthdays.

For more information on the American Cancer Society, visit http://www.cancer.org.

For more information on Relay for Life, visit http://www.relayforlife.org/tufts.

If you’d like to register or donate, our team name is ‘Go Team Friedman!

Sheryl Lynn Carvajal is a first year Nutrition Communication student.  She is the team captain for the Go Team Friedman! Relay for Life team, and she would love for you to join!  She can be reached at sheryllynn.carvajal@tufts.edu.

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