October is Women’s Cancer Awareness Month, a campaign organized by the CCS to raise the awareness of early detection, screening and healthy living for the prevention and cure of women’s cancers. It was a routine screening that caught Rhoda Anderson’s cancer early enough for her to be cured. “I was diagnosed 10 years ago when I went to my doctor for a regular screening test,” Anderson said. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep in touch with your body and if you have anything that isn’t normal go to your doctor for a check up.”
Rhoda Anderson is the president of the Lakes District chapter of the CCS. She has been volunteering with the society for over 25 years, ever since she lost her father to cancer. There was a lot of cancer in Anderson’s family. “I knew that there was a real possibility [of cancer] for myself, but you just don’t think that it will happen to you,” Anderson explains. It’s that sense of denial, whether it stems from fear or a lack of awareness, that the CCS is hoping to combat this month.
“We’re really promoting early detection and screening tests during this month,” Anderson said. “See your doctor if you have anything that you feel might be suspicious.”
The Canadian Cancer Society divides its resources between research, prevention, and the support of cancer patients and their families. “Sometimes it’s harder on the family than it is on the cancer patient,” says Anderson, which is why the CCS provides a lot of different resources for patient support.
“People can come into the local branch and talk,” says Anderson. “Everything is confidential.”
A person looking for support can also call the two telephone help lines available. The Cancer Information Service provides confidential information about all types of cancer, cancer treatments and help available within the community. “It’s a very good line,” Rhoda says, “I used it myself when I had cancer and I found it very helpful.”
The Cancer Connection is anther telephone help line available that puts people in touch with others who are facing the same kinds of struggle. “The Cancer Connection line will link you up with someone around your same age and with the same type of cancer,” said Anderson.
The CCS is mostly volunteer driven with 20 members in the local Lakes District unit. The local unit is part of the larger Northern region of the CCS with headquarters in Prince George. “The Northern region covers an area larger than France,” Anderson explains to illustrate the scale of the volunteer efforts involved.
Donations to the CCS are a little down this year, according to Rhoda. “We didn’t have our relay for life this year,” Anderson explains in accounting for the decrease in funds. “There weren’t enough volunteers available this year.”
Although there are plenty of volunteers for events through out the year, it is difficult to find people that are able to give the year-round commitment it takes to make a large event like the relay for life happen. “It takes a lot of young people to organize the event and it’s hard to get people that are available for a year round commitment,” said Anderson.
The local unit of the CCS can accept donations at their storefront beside Remax on Hwy. 16. They also run a small gift shop with a used book section. All proceeds go to the CCS.