Could you save a life?

Discussion in 'Reality Check' started by Shellie, Mar 6, 2009.

  1. Shellie

    Team Suzuki

    Mar 24, 2007
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    Beaver Bank
    I just volunteered :)

    Could you save a life?

    30,000 people needed for major cancer study

    By JOHN GILLIS Health Reporter

    Nova Scotia has been in a neck-and-neck race with its Atlantic neighbours for at least 20 years for the dubious distinction of having the country’s highest cancer rates.

    Now thousands of people in the region are being invited to donate a couple of hours of their time to help answer the underlying question: Why?

    The Atlantic Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health, the regional component of the largest cancer study ever undertaken in Canada, was launched Thursday with the official opening of an assessment centre in the Halifax Shopping Centre Annex.

    Researchers want to enrol 30,000 Atlantic Canadians of all ages and backgrounds in the study and follow them for as many as 30 years.

    Participants will be asked a lot of questions and have to submit to a bit of poking and prodding, but they could make a huge contribution to what we know about cancer, said Dr. Louise Parker, principal investigator.

    "Using information that we’re going to capture now and in the future, (we will) see if we can understand why it is some people get cancer and some people don’t," she said.

    "We’ll be able to use the information and the samples that we get to find new ways of detecting cancer early (and) identify those that are at risk of cancer so that we can do better prevention."

    Meg McCallum, director of programs and district services for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Nova Scotia division, noted cancer recently claimed the life of a prominent Nova Scotian. Michael Baker, the province’s finance minister, died Monday after battling the disease since 2006. He was 52.

    Ms. McCallum called Mr. Baker’s fight an inspiration. She said the project holds potential to change the picture of cancer in this region.

    "We strongly encourage Atlantic Canadians to take advantage of this remarkable opportunity to make a difference in the future health of Atlantic Canadians."

    Stan Hennigar, 67, didn’t need much encouragement to sign up when he read that the project was getting underway.

    "Everybody has cancer problems in their families," he said. "Our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to be not unscathed by it. If we can do something to help, then I’m all for volunteering."

    His wife Donna, 66, said she was a bit apprehensive about taking part. But after learning about the impact the research could have and completing the round of simple assessments, she was glad to have done so.

    The Hennigars are in very good health but both have lost close relatives to the disease and they’re watching a 27-year-old niece suffer through cancer right now.

    Mr. Hennigar said since completing the assessment, they’ve already decided to increase their physical activity. The couple already worked out regularly.

    Dr. Parker joked that this showed the research is having results already.

    But she said the project should be able to gather a lot of information on things like risk factors in relatively short order for an epidemiological study.

    "Certainly within the next three to four years, we should have tangible results and expect to start informing policy at Health Promotion and Protection, Cancer Care Nova Scotia and the Canadian Cancer Society."

    The participants may be asked to return for another round of assessments five, 10 and more years down the road.

    The national project, aiming to follow 300,000 people, is funded by $42 million from the federal Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and another $41 million from five regional agencies, including Cancer Care Nova Scotia.

    Researchers will travel to other parts of Nova Scotia and the other Atlantic provinces over time.

    Theresa Marie Underhill, chief operating officer of Cancer Care Nova Scotia, said the work will enable such change.

    "Those diagnosed with cancer, one of the first questions that comes to mind is ‘Why me?’ We don’t have the answers," she said. "But as a consequence of the work . . . not only will we have an answer, but we’ll have a transformation. It won’t be ‘Why me?’ I believe that in the future, as a consequence of what we’ll know, it will be ‘Cancer? No, not me.’ "

    To volunteer or to find out more about the project, visit or call 1-877-285-7284.

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