Staff Partner, ACS Marco Island
The most vital part of what we do as an organization is giving back to those touched by cancer. A large focus is placed on patient services, and how the funds raised are being distributed and used. As a community, this question comes up frequently, and for good reason. People want to see a breakdown of contributions and learn more about the important ways the American Cancer Society is helping in prevention and treatment.
Since 1946, the American Cancer Society has contributed $4.5 billion to cancer research. Specifically, in 2015, $93.6 million was awarded to funding multiple types of cancer. Breast cancer had a high contribution of $10.7 million, with most of the funding coming from the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk, a powerful movement dedicated to raising money for breast cancer research. Locally, there is a Naples Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, which occurs annually. This year’s event will be held October 21. As of 2016, $151 million went to cancer research, $346 million to patient support, $123 million to prevention, information, and education, and $87 million to detection and treatment.
The patient services that the American Cancer Society offers make a huge impact on many people’s lives. We offer a 24/7 Help Line that connects you with a cancer specialist to answer questions about cancer, and other assistance. This help line provides information to help with your treatment, clinical trials matching services, day-to-day help finding lodging and transportation for treatments, and emotional support by finding local support groups, and online communities. Please call 1-800-227-2345 if there is ever a time that you feel there is no one else to turn to, or you would just like to speak with someone who may understand what you are going through. These calls are confidential, and your privacy is protected.
There are two local support groups on the island, one is located at 40 Heathwood Drive, in the Marco Urgent Care Center; meetings are held every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month from 10:30 AM – 12 PM. A more spiritual group on the island is offered by the Marco Lutheran Church at 525 N. Collier Boulevard; meetings are held every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month from 12 – 1:30 PM.
Also on Marco Island, the American Cancer Society holds two main fundraising events each year: the Imagination Ball and Relay For Life. The Imagination Ball is a black-tie event held at the JW Marriott. This year’s event was held in February, and funds raised from this event totaled $250,000. The date for next year’s event is already set for February 10. We would love to see you there!
The second event, Relay For Life, is a community fun day with free admission. It is not a walk or race; it is an opportunity for the community to gather in support of cancer. Relay Teams that have been fundraising all year set up tents in a circle around a “track.” These team tents sell different types of food and beverages, or have raffles and activities. All these items are for a donation fee, which will be solely donated to the American Cancer Society. The track is created by the alignment of tents around it, and to symbolize that “cancer never sleeps.” Many choose to walk/be wheeled around the track to honor those battling cancer, lost to cancer, or survived cancer. Last year’s event raised $310,000. This year’s Relay For Life will be held on April 1st at Veterans Community Park from 4 – 10pm. The theme is Cookin’ Up A Cure, and will have a county fair feel with plenty of activities for kids, and live music and entertainment throughout the evening. If you are a survivor we invite you to a survivor lap at 4:15 PM, followed by a caregiver lap, and then a survivor dinner at 5:00 PM held at the church. This dinner is held in honor of cancer survivors, and is complimentary for you. Please contact our office if you are a survivor who is interested in joining.
All figures are courtesy of the American Cancer Society, and can be found on cancer.org.
This is an ongoing series of columns dedicated to informing the Marco Island community about the American Cancer Society, the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health concern by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. The Marco Island American Cancer Society office is located at 583 Tallwood St., Suite 101 and is open daily from 9 AM-5 PM. For more information about volunteering or any of the events mentioned in this column please contact Sue Olszak or Lisa Honig at 239-642-8800 ext. 3890.