GUEST EDITORIAL: Local volunteers combat cancer one head at a time

National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration established by the Points of Light Foundation in 1974 to recognize and thank America’s volunteers and call public attention to all they do to improve communities nationwide. During National Volunteer Week, the American Cancer Society recognizes and celebrates the efforts of its approximately 2.5 million volunteers nationwide who are making a difference in the fight against cancer.

This year’s celebration will be held April 12-18. Celebrate Service, the theme for National Volunteer Week, captures the meaning of this signature week: honoring the people who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in their communities. Our volunteers are the heart and soul of the American Cancer Society.

In Logan County, volunteers participate in a variety of opportunities such as Look Good Feel Better, Wig Salons, and Relay For Life. Vicki Arnold has been involved with the American Cancer Society as a Look Good Feel Better facilitator since 2006. At the beginning of last year, she became a free wig salon and provides wigs free of charge to women in Logan County. The American Cancer Society wig salon program provides Vicki's wig bank with quality, new, free wigs to cancer patients undergoing treatment who have lost their hair. Look Good Feel Better is a free program designed for women dealing with hair loss and skin changes from chemotherapy and radiation. They learn specific techniques to help make the most of their appearance while undergoing treatment. This program provides women with a makeup package valued at $200. These programs take place at Mary Rutan Hospital Crawfis Oncology Clinic on May 19, July 21, Sept. 15 and Nov. 17 from 1 to 3 p.m. Women can call (800) 227-2345 to register for this program.

We also work together with the Logan County Cancer Society so that we don't duplicate services and can provide Logan County residents with the best resources possible. American Cancer Society has a partnership with Extended Stay America that provides affordable, comfortable lodging to patients that must travel away from home to receive treatment so that they can focus on getting well. There are 632 Extended Stay America hotels that participate in this program, along with 500 additional hotels nationwide. They offer 10,000 complimentary nights of lodging and 10,000 nights at a discounted rate of $12 to patients each year.

In 2014, ACS provided Logan County Residents:

• 6 wigs/hats/scarves;

• 7 women attended a Look Good Feel Better Session;

• 25 people received a Personal Health Manager;

• 27 people were referred to another resource available in our database;

• 5 received financial assistance;

• 5 people received lodging assistance; and

• 71 people received information on their cancer diagnosis from the most trusted source for cancer information – ACS.

Thanks to Relay For Life and other fundraising events, the American Cancer Society has helped save 500 lives a day from cancer. This number has increased from 350 lives a day in the past 5 years. Without the support of our volunteers in the community, this increase of lives saved wouldn't be possible.

For many volunteers, their motivations are personal and their willingness to give of themselves is inspirational. There are no words that can possibly express our gratitude for all they do. They selflessly give their time and talents to make sure we end this disease. Everything the American Cancer Society is doing to end cancer is possible because of their dedication.

Relay For Life takes place June 19, 2015 from 6pm-Midnight at Ohio Hi-Point Career Center. Register today at www.relayforlife.org/logancounty

To find out more about volunteering, go to www.cancer.org/volunteer or contact Nora O’Connell, community manager for the American Society’s Relay for Life in Logan, Champaign and Clark counties, at (404) 327-6431 or nora.oconnell@cancer.org.

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