Seniors Tackling Cancer
Today we talk more often of “cancer survivors” than “cancer victims”. Much progress has been made in prevention, early detection, treatment options, and caring for those affected by the disease. Nonetheless, it remains a scary word and over 13,000 Mississippians are likely to be diagnosed with cancer this year. Seniors Tackling Cancer is a project developed by Mississippi State University Extension Service (MSU-ES) to help communities find ways to improve the prevention, early detection, and ability to live with cancer. Though cancer is age-blind, it more frequently impacts seniors. While the project focuses on older residents, its output will likely benefit all age groups. Community members are brought together to assess what is and is not working in their area to address cancer and then begin a grassroots effort to effect positive change. Change comes through the work of locally formed community action groups and the efforts of MSU-ES trained lay health education Combating Cancer Volunteers. The project was initially conducted in Winston County, Mississippi.
Mississippi is #25 in the nation in the rate of cancer incidence, but #3 in the rate of deaths attributable to cancer. That disparity may be due to such things as the cancer being diagnosed later in the disease process, limited access to care, the nature of the particular cancers, etc. An unknown author once said “We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” Working with local communities, we will not find a cure for cancer, but we can find ways to improve prevention, increase early detection, and help improve the quality of life of those living with cancer.
Combating Cancer Volunteers
The Combating Cancer Volunteer is part of the Seniors Tackling Cancer project and is umbrellaed under the Master Health Education Volunteer Program. The goal of this program is to train volunteers to share health messages on cancer risk factors and the importance of early detection in combating cancer.
Volunteers are required to participate in a training course to sufficiently prepare them to give presentations to the community. After receiving the training, volunteers agree to give 20 hours of service back to the community. Participants in the program are given packaged presentations that can be used to educate friends, relatives, co-workers, faith-based organizations, civic clubs and other community members about the following cancers:
- Breast Cancer
- Colorectal Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
The community report below has been developed to give voice to the findings of the community forums and to the residents of Winston County who participated in the process and are working today to turn their concerns into action. Much can be learned in this report about how civic organizations, churches, businesses, schools, public officials and other fellow residents may find opportunities suggested in these findings to get involved and take action supportive of reducing cancer’s impact on their families, friends, and neighbors.
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