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Local Relay for Life participants can join cancer prevention study

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Patty Greene, left, and Jean Travis are helping recruit Relay for Life of Hampshire County volunteers for a cancer prevention study.

Patty Greene, left, and Jean Travis are helping recruit Relay for Life of Hampshire County volunteers for a cancer prevention study. Purchase photo reprints »

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a series of monthly guest columns that explain aspects of this year's Relay for Life of Hampshire County, a yearly American Cancer Society fundraiser.

This is the third research study ACS has undertaken over the years to try to link lifestyle choices, environment and genetic factors with certain cancers. The first study helped make the connection that cigarette smoking caused lung cancer.

Jean Travis and Patty Greene, members of the committee that organizes the local Relay For Life, have the job of recruiting people to sign up for the CPS-3 study at this year’s Relay June 14-15.

They are looking for people who:

• Are between 30-65 years old.

• Have never been diagnosed with cancer (except basal or squamous cell).

• Will commit to the study over a 20- to 30-year period by completing occasional surveys sent by ACS.

The nationwide study aims to enroll 300,000 people. Earlier CPS findings have linked increased rates of cancer to obesity, cigarette smoking and air pollution, among other things. Travis and Greene, co-chairs for the subcommittee overseeing the CPS-3 study, said the cancer society is especially searching for volunteers who are male and/or non-Caucasian to diversify the group of applicants and to increase the strength of the study.

However, they note that all who wish to volunteer are welcome.

They hope to recruit 160 volunteers in this final year of a study that began eight years ago. Hampshire County residents were last recruited at the local Relay in 2008.

What’s required of participants when they enroll is a waist measurement, a donation of a small amount of blood (roughly seven teaspoons) collected by a professional phlebotomist, reading and signing a consent form and the completion a brief written survey.

Travis and Greene joked that most people will give blood for free movie coupons; why not give to help prevent cancer?

“There is something that everyone can do,” Travis said at the annual pancake breakfast that kicks off the area Relay event. “Just help us spread the word so we can all make a difference.”

Both Travis and Greene have been directly impacted by cancer, each having lost a family member to the disease. Those losses motivate them to help find a cure. Each is captaining a team at the Relay. Travis has for 12 years and Greene for 14.

The two urge people to envision how their lives would change if someone they loved was told they had cancer.

Cancer patients, Greene said, “are counting on the volunteers to put the effort in, and we’re counting on the people to come out.”

The initial enrollment will take place June 14 at Look Memorial Park in Florence between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m.

For more information, visit cancer.org/cps3 or contact Travis and Greene at CPS3@hamprelay.org. For more information about Relay for Life or to make a donation, go to www.relayforlife.org/hampshirecountyma.

David Card is a student at Westfield State University.

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