BUFFALO, NY - If you've ever wanted to help in the fight against cancer, now is your opportunity. The American Cancer Society is conducting a large study and is looking for local participants.
Jackie Pritchard, a Grand Island mother of four, believes this is her opportunity to fight back. She has experienced more loss than any mother ever should.
Her son, Keith, was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer when he only 5 years old. He died from Non-Hodgkins Burketts Lymphona just 13 months later in 1987.
"After Keith died you kind of think, 'I paid my dues. This will never happen again,' and it did," said Pritchard.
Two decades later, Jackie's daughter Kali was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The 21-year-old was a senior in college at the time, an honor student, and an avid runner, when she suddenly had a seizure. That incident led to her diagnosis and eventually had six brain surgeries in six years.
During that time, Kali helped start a young adult program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, a special support group for young people to gather for outings.
Kali lost her battle with cancer in the fall of 2012. She left behind a husband of just 14 months.
Pritchard couldn't understand how she could have two children with two unrelated forms of cancer, especially since neither she nor the children's father ever had cancer.
That is why Pritchard is now helping to recruit participants in a new study by the American Cancer Society. It will not focus on finding a cure, but rather finding a cause, such as environment, lifestyle, genetics, or a combination of all of them.
It's called Cancer Prevention Study 3- or CPS 3. CPS 1 was conducted from 1959 to 1972. CPS 2 started in 1982 and is ongoing. The American Cancer Society says results from CPS 1 and 2 include:
- The link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer
- The significant impact of being overweight or obese on risk of cancer occurrence and death.
- The impact of hormones, physical activity, diet, various medications and vitamins, and various other factors in relation to cancer risk
Pritchard is hopeful CPS 3 will lead to significant discoveries as well.
CPS 3 is national study with 300,000 participants. The goal is to enroll 1,000 from Western New York. To be eligible you must be between the ages of 30 and 65 and never had cancer (not including basal or squamous cell skin cancer). Participants will have their blood drawn, their waist measured, and complete a survey in the beginning. They must be willing to make a long-term commitment to the study, which involves periodic follow-up surveys at home every 2-3 years for 20 years.
To schedule an appointment, click here. After scheduling your enrollment appointment, you will be sent a link to a comprehensive health survey. This survey must be completed prior to your appointment time. It will take about 30-45 minutes to complete. When you complete the survey, print off the confirmation sheet and bring it with you to the enrollment appointment.
Registration closes on May 31st, and so far only about 250 slots locally have been filled.
"I'm getting nervous, we need to have a better representation here," said Pritchard. "All the studies have been on people who have had cancer. This is people who have not had cancer. Why haven't I had it and my children did?"
This study isn't just about research, for Pritchard it's about paying tribute to Keith and Kali.
"I can't do anything for them anymore, But I can do this."
Enrollment will take place at the following locations (walk-ins welcome):
Erie County Medical Center- Tuesday, June 18, 2013- 6:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
Erie County Dept. of Health- Tuesday, June 18, 2013- 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus- Wednesday, June 19, 2013- 7:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
BlueCross BlueShield of WNY- Thursday, June 20, 2013- 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
General Motors Tonawanda Engine Plant- Thursday, June 20, 2013- 1:00 p.m.- 6 p.m.
For more information, click here, or call 1-888-604-5888.