Saving lives through cancer awareness

Saving lives through cancer awareness
Teams in Fort Smith have already started fundraising.File Photo.

A new study on cancer charities has found that the more attention a specific cancer receives, the more its survival rates increase.

Charity Intelligence Canada, an Ontario-based non-profit organization, released its report, Cancer in Canada, on April 26 to highlight four cancers it says need attention.

They listed pancreatic, stomach, lung and colorectal cancer as deadly cancers receiving little attention from charities – and hence, seeing little improvement in survivor rates.

On the other hand, the study cites breast cancer as a success story, as breast cancer’s five-year survival rate has now topped 89 per cent due to the increased focus on screening and prevention.

For Andrea Steed, organizer of Fort Smith’s Relay for Life, the success of breast cancer screening and prevention shows how important it is to continue fundraising and promotion efforts surrounding cancer.

“Cancer is a scary subject that no one likes to talk about or hear about,” Steed said. “Relay celebrates survivors and not only raises money but awareness on the different types of cancer.  We have to hit this disease from every angle if we are going to succeed. The more money raised the more types of cancer research can be funded.”

Fort Smith has been one of the most successful communities in Canada at fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society, with this year’s relay expected to push the community over the half-million dollar mark for four events.

The Cancer Society’s mandate states that it funds a “broad range of research on all types of cancer.”

Thirty-four per cent of the money raised by the society goes to research. Another 23 per cent of the money goes to support people with cancer, including money for transportation to get to treatment and peer support programs.

Nine per cent of the money raised goes to prevention, and ten per cent to advocacy, both areas that the Charity Intelligence study found were beneficial in efforts to improve breast cancer survival rates.

“Approximately 50 per cent of all cancers can be prevented through healthy living and policies that protect the public,” the Canadian Cancer Society states on its website.

Steed noted that Fort Smith’s cost of raising money – it takes 12 cents to raise one dollar in Fort Smith – is the lowest in western Canada, meaning that more of the money raised in the community goes directly to the Cancer Society.

Efforts for this year’s Relay for Life in Fort Smith are well underway. The event happens on June 11 at Queen Elizabeth campground, where participants will walk for 12 hours overnight to show support for cancer survivors and honour those who have died from cancer.

The last time Fort Smith held a Relay for Life event, 23 teams raised $157,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.

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