Despite even the most recent medical breakthroughs, cancer remains one of the highest causes of death for Americans. Approximately one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer. As of 2016, cancer overall was the cause of death for 22% of the population. This is why the folks at TwinStar teamed up with the American Cancer Society for help with funding, raising awareness and gathering volunteers to help bring those numbers down.

Even though it is a household name, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has its hands in all aspects of care, going beyond just “curing cancer.” Founded in 1913, ACS has had its share of name changes, rebrandings and directions. From its help with the now famous Surgeon General’s report linking smoking with cancer in the 1960s to ensuring patients have rides to their treatments, the ACS has made great strides in tackling all aspects of the disease.

Relay for Life Pierce County
The Relay For Life event is among the most popular in Pierce County. Photo courtesy: ACS

“From the moment someone is diagnosed, we have support,” says Nichole Woolsey, Senior Community Director at the American Cancer Society. “We can provide rides to treatment, lodging near treatment, support navigating insurance, support to our communities at our local events, we fund lifesaving research, and advocate with American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network at the legislative level for cancer research funding, initiatives for things like funding screening, smoking outdoors, regulating vaping, etc.”

These days, one of the larger aspects of what ACS does is prevention through education. “One in three Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime,” says LaMarco Mitchell, Senior Community Development Manager at the American Cancer Society. “That’s too many, especially since 45% of cancers can be eliminated through healthy lifestyles and health choices like maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising, limiting consumption of alcohol and red meat. Prevention is key. Do whatever you can to decrease your risk and your family’s risk of cancer.”

From a local success standpoint, the ACS managed to get some funding for community care. “In 2018, the partnership between the American Cancer Society and the NFL, the Crucial Catch Campaign, funded a two-year grant totaling $100,000 to increase breast cancer screening rates in underserved populations,” says Mitchell. “The grant was awarded to Pierce County-based Community Health Care. The grant money is being used to help increase awareness around early detection and to implement a mobile mammography program at their community-based clinics.”

ACS Tacoma
Just about everyone has been affected by cancer. Photo courtesy: ACS

Even with these successes, there are still gaps. “One of the greatest needs for cancer patients and their families in Pierce County is access to care,” explains Mitchell. “Specifically, patients need rides to treatment. Our Road to Recovery Volunteers and Ride Share partners are fulfilling many requests, however, there are still too many cancer patients out there who are missing appointments due to lack of transportation. To fill more transportation needs, we need two things. First, we need more drivers for Road to Recovery. To volunteer for this program, individuals need a valid license, a clean driving record, a vehicle that passes a vehicle inspection and they have to pass a background check. Drivers can drive one day a month or one day a week. It’s totally based on the driver’s availability. Anyone interested in volunteering for this program can reach out to the American Cancer Society by calling 1-800-227-2345 or visiting Cancer.org.”

American Cancer Society Volunteers
The American Cancer Society is always looking for volunteers. Photo courtesy: ACS

TwinStar Credit Union has also played a major role in filling those gaps. “I’ve worked closely with TwinStar Credit Union for the past four years with our South Puget Sound Advisory Council,” says Mitchell. “Corinn Wohl has been a member during that time working to raise awareness of the American Cancer Society throughout the counties we work in [Pierce, Thurston, Lewis, Grays Harbor]. I’m happy to announce that Corinn accepted the responsibility of chairing the council for 2020. TwinStar Credit Union has provided us numerous opportunities to engage with local businesses, both large and small, as well as service groups. These opportunities allow the American Cancer Society to share who we are and how we are saving lives from cancer at the local and national levels, along with recruiting teams, sponsors, and individuals for our special events and programs, such as Relay For Life, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, Road to Recover, and Real Men Wear Pink.”

Relay for Life Pierce County
The Relay For Life event is among the most popular in Pierce County. Photo courtesy: ACS

“Not only is TwinStar Credit Union great at bring awareness to the American Cancer Society Mission, they get involved,” continues Mitchell. “From sponsoring and fielding teams for Relay for Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, to participating in Real Men Wear Pink, and speaking at American Cancer Society activities on behalf of the Society, TwinStar is a great partner for us to work with. The organization’s heart is in the right place and they are definitely helping us make a difference in the fight against cancer.”

While the road ahead remains long, the American Cancer Society and TwinStar Credit Union’s dedication to such a prevalent disease is hopeful. If you’d like to get involved, be sure to contact the American Cancer Society here. To learn more about cancer prevention and healthy living, click here. For more information about TwinStar Credit Union, click here.

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