When faced with a disease as daunting as cancer, it can be a challenge to stay optimistic. From the sheer physical toll of the disease itself to the high cost of care, it is difficult to go it alone. This is where the American Cancer Society steps in. And with the help of TwinStar Credit Union’s over 15 years of dedicated support, folks in Lewis County are getting the help they need to help fight cancer at every level.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has become a household name and for good reason. In its more than 100-year history, the ACS has been instrumental in cancer research, funding and advocating for healthier living. “From the moment someone is diagnosed, we have support,” explains Nichole Woolsey, Senior Community Development Manager. “We can provide rides to treatment, lodging near treatment, support navigating insurance, support to our communities at our local events, we fund life-saving research and advocate with American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network at the legislative level for cancer research funding and initiatives for things like funding screening, smoking outdoors, regulating vaping, etc.”
The results don’t lie. “The Society is proud to have contributed to the work that has resulted in a 27% drop in the overall cancer death rate in the United States,” says LaMarco Mitchell, Senior Community Development Manager at the ACS. “That drop equates to 2.6 million fewer cancer deaths between 1991 and 2016. Progress continues and is currently estimated at 500 fewer cancer deaths each day.”
Those numbers are assisted by the folks on the ground, the local ACS workers and volunteers. “In 2018 in Lewis County, we were able to fund 183 nights of lodging for patients who were traveling over 40 miles to treatment,” says Woolsey. “When I talk to people from our community, I hear their stories. I hear their triumphs, their struggles, their anger, fear and when they celebrate. Cancer’s impact is immeasurable. Everybody has a different journey and each one is so unique. Some ways that cancer impacts our neighbors, friends, coworkers and family that we don’t always realize or think about: loneliness. Anxiety, paralyzing fear, financial strains, loss of work, end of life planning, not knowing how they will get to treatment, not having a caregiver. Caregivers who lose a loved one. Fear of every follow-up appointment. Scared their cancer will return. Not knowing how to tell children. Scared they will lose their job, not understanding insurance. The list is so long. And all have a domino effect.”
But ACS believes that hope is stronger than fear and they work relentlessly in partnership with amazing volunteers to restore hope. “We are attacking cancer from every angle and support patients from the time they are diagnosed with free programs and services, legislative advocacy through ACS Cancer Action Network, funding lifesaving research and local events such as Relay for Life,” adds Woolsey. “I have watched thousands of survivors and caregivers cross the finish line at Relay and I have seen the strength and determination in their eyes, I have watched hope be ignited and celebrated. I have watched it change lives.”
The Relay for Life of Lewis County will be celebrating its 33rd year this May.
“I think the history of Relay is something worth mentioning every chance we get. The fact that one man walked overnight with determination in 1985 and raised $27,000 in 24 hours and walked/ran a total of 83 miles and now millions of people Relay across the world is huge. And that it was started in Tacoma, Washington.”
Relayers have raised over $5 billion that has been invested in research and services over the past 36 years. Those who run in Relay for Life run the gamut from family members and friends to neighbors and survivors. Most come to the grassroots event with a story, determined to help make a difference in research and survival rates.
TwinStar Credit Union has had its hand in making the Relay for Life event. “TwinStar has always been a community leader and proud American Cancer Society supporters for over 15 years with true dedication to each community they are in – they invest time and put in the work it takes to make a true difference and sponsor many of our events in the South Sound. With the American Cancer Society, their involvement has been participating in events, whether they are walking at a Relay or Making Strides Walk or participating in Real Men Wear Pink. Recently Corinn Wohl took on the role of President of the South Sound Advisory Board. Corinn has been a keynote speaker for several American Cancer Society events, inspiring and motivating rooms of people each time, she shares the mission of ACS with service groups throughout our communities and has been instrumental in growing the employee engagement with TwinStar and other businesses in the communities they work in. They have also fundraised over $138,000 since they started Relaying!”
While there’s still so much to do, the ACS and TwinStar Credit Union will continue the fight against cancer. To learn more about local events and/or how to get involved, contact Amanda Ditzhazy at firstname.lastname@example.org.