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Now there's something we can do to fight cancer

June 02, 2010 - Ortonville- When Julie Graveldinger hears the news that someone she knows has cancer she, like many others, has often wished there was something she could do to make a difference besides offering prayers and support.

Now there is another action she can take— and will— to fight cancer, and the same opportunity is being offered to others right here in this community.

On June 19, persons between the ages of 30 and 65, who have never been diagnosed with cancer (excluding basal or squamous cell cancer), will have the unique chance to enroll in a new research study known as Cancer Prevention Study 3 (CPS-3) during the Relay for Life of Brandon/Ortonville.

"Now there is something we can actually do to fight cancer," said Graveldinger, CPS-3 Chairperson for the Relay for Life of Brandon/Ortonville. "We can give the researchers the information they need to make a connection and learn what causes, and what can help prevent, cancer, so hopefully one day our kids and grandkids never have to hear, 'You have cancer,' or they never have to hear a family member or friend has it."

The American Cancer Society is seeking 500,000 volunteers to participate in the study, and the Brandon/Ortonville Relay is the only enrollment site in Oakland County, as well as the youngest and smallest relay chosen to take sign-ups. Enrollment is open to anyone who meets the eligibility requirements, regardless of where they reside, but sign-ups can only take place at the selected relay sites (in Michigan, the only other site is Relay for Life of Detroit, which takes place at Marygrove College, also on June 19).

The Relay for Life of Brandon/Ortonville is a 24-hour event beginning at 10 a.m. June 19 at the Varsity Drive football field in Ortonville (located next to Harvey Swanson Elementary and H.T. Burt Lifelong Learning Center) to raise funds to fight cancer and celebrate life, survivorship and hope. However, enrollment for the CPS-3 study is from 1-5 p.m. only.

Persons willing to make a long-term commitment to the study, in which par-ticipants will receive a survey in the mail to fill out every two or three years for the next 20-30 years, can enroll in a simple two-phase process. During the first phase, at the relay, participants will read and sign an informed consent form, complete a brief survey with basic health questions, give a simple blood sample to a certified phlebotomist from Quest Diagnostics, and have their waist measurement taken (in centimeters and unannounced, laughs Graveldinger). All results are confidential.

This first phase takes about 30-minutes and while enrollment is only taken at the relay, study participants do not have to be relay participants. About two weeks later, those partaking in the study will receive a more detailed survey in the mail with questions to answer about health, lifestyle and environment. In the years that follow, more surveys will arrive, with participants updating their information and researchers looking for common threads among those who do and do not get cancer.

"The goal is to make a connection between cancer, lifestyle, genetics, and environmental factors," said Graveldinger.

The first cancer prevention study was done in the 1950s and made the connection bertween cigarette smoking and lung cancer, Graveldinger said. The second survey, done in the 1970s, found a significant impact between obesity and the risk of dying from cancer, showed links between aspirin use and lower risk of colon cancer, and also showed that vitamins, physical activity, diet and hormone use and other factors can affect cancer risk.

Graveldinger is excited about the study and hopeful that people share the news about the amazing opportunity to enroll here.

"Share this information with as many people as you can," she said. "If you don't know the study is taking place, you can't enroll."

For more information, call 1-888-604-5888, visit For reminders or to volunteer, e-mail Graveldinger at

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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