You don't have to be young and athletic to be a champion for the American Cancer Society.
A "champion" is a person who recruits volunteers for its Cancer Prevention Study. This is the third such study that the ACS has conducted. The first was in 1952-55 and studied smoking. The second study, from 1958-72, studied smoking and obesity. The third one began in 2006 and studies how smoking, obesity and nutrition may cause cancer.
A quote that Kanika Whipple, the CPS3 event manager for Georgia, likes to use is from Meghan Murphy of the Greeley Tribune: "Everyone knows that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. Few realize that it took three years, 22,000 volunteers and 188,000 study participants to prove it."
Volunteer participants are crucial to this study, Whipple said last week. To participate one must be between the ages of 30-65, never had cancer diagnosis (except basal or squamous cell skin cancer) and must commit to the study for 20-30 years.
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Many people balk at the long-term commitment, Whipple said. But she said participants only need to complete a survey every two or three years.
"We want to end cancer," Whipple said. For the study, the ACS needs at least 300,000 participants nationwide. Right now, there are 250,000. "So the enrollment will go on until the end of the year," she said.
The first study had 188,000 participants, while the second had 1,200,000 participants.
In Columbus, the goal is to get 800 participants.
The enrollment will be Oct. 1-5 at the J.P. Thayer YMCA, the D.A. Turner YMCA and the Front Porch of the South.
To sign up, Whipple promises great ease.
One needs to go online at www.cps3columbus.org or call 800-227-2345 to fill out the initial questionnaire and set up an enrollment time.
At the enrollment center, besides filling out a questionnaire, a phlebotomist from Quest Diagnostics will take a blood sample.
An ACS volunteer will take waist measurements.
All information is confidential, she said.
Twenty-four people were at the meeting Thursday, learning about the study and how to become a champion.
"This is a good start," Whipple said. "There's a great level of excitement, and I think it will be successful."
Denise Dowdy is the executive director of the Columbus ACS chapter.
"This is something that the community can really get involved in," she said.