Monday, August 26, 2013

How you can help create a world with less cancer {Guest Post}

Y'all are used to long picture posts from me.  Today, I have a guest post that is long, but it so worth your time to read.

Cancer has probably touched all of our lives in one way or another.  I know that it has affected people I care about recently.  

When Keisha emailed me and shared this information, I knew that I had to share it with as many people as I could.

"This is the first time a local cancer research opportunity has come to Northwest Arkansas and will help us provide answers for the next generation."

Just those words right there should cause you to want to jump into action.

Please read, share, and/or sign-up!  I would love to say that I was part of something that helped find the cure for cancer, wouldn't you?!


Hey guys, I’m Keisha.  You can normally find my version of crazy over at, but I get to be a Sparacino for the day!

I started my blog in 2008 as a way to share with friends and family about my personal journey with cancer.  When I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 25, I had lots of people who were curious but didn’t want to ask questions or who wanted an update and asked every day.  So, I birthed “bigpittstop” out of the drive to journal my thoughts and share my journey.  

6 months later, after I finished treatment and was announced in Remission, I had to begin to learn to navigate my “new normal”.  Talk about a process!  I was 26, a single gal living 300 miles away from my family, in my dream job and trying to figure out how I was going to move beyond this label of “cancer survivor”.  I embraced it, but I didn't want it to define me.  
So I navigated.  I mistaked.  I dreamed.  I loved.  I lost.  And, I kept evolving.
A year ago, I had the opportunity laid before me to join the team of the American Cancer Society.  It was my “someday” job.  My “when I’m ready to leave where I am” job.  
My “when the right door opens, I’ll step through it” job.  But, here’s the deal.  Once you’ve walked through a cancer journey you understand that you don’t have time to wait for “somedays”.  Today comes and it goes and that’s all you’ve got.  So the organization I had been volunteering for became my employer.  (insert chapter 3 of bigpittstop!)

That’s what brings me to the opportunity that Lenette has opened up for me to share with you.  3 years ago the American Cancer Society embarked on a transformational program and 3 weeks ago we kicked off and launched our enrollment locally in Northwest Arkansas for the Cancer Prevention Study – 3.  

So what’s the big deal?  Oh, I’m so glad you asked!

This is the first time a local cancer research opportunity has come to Northwest Arkansas and will help us provide answers for the next generation.  

The first one conducted in the 50's linked cancer and smoking and led to the Surgeon General’s label being added to cigarettes.  
The second, done in late 70s, linked obesity and cancer.  But, the group that enrolled has aged out of a research population and in order to continue to get answers moving forward, it’s time to enroll a new research group. 

So, we are asking everyone aged 30-65 who has never had cancer to consider enrolling in the study.  You will be part of a 20 year, long-term study.  

To enroll you just go to and choose your location and time.  

You know – early bird gets the worm, or the exact time they want - so we have them set up as 15 minute time slots for your convenience.  Once you pick your time online you will be sent a survey.  It will probably take you 30 minutes or so (depending on computer skills) to complete before you come for your enrollment appointment.  

Then, day of, it only takes about 15 minutes.  You will be giving a small blood sample similar to what you would give for general lab work.  That’s it.  Then, every 2 years or so they will send a survey for you to complete (I’d like to say by email, but can you imagine what social media and other communications technology tools will be developed in the next 20 years?!?!?!).

What are they looking for?  Answers.  This study will focus on lifestyle and environment – where we live, what we do, what we eat, how active are we, etc.  How does what we do to ourselves affect us long term?  It’s crazy to think that just 50 years ago we didn't know what smoking would do to us and because that first group of over 1 million people got involved and was willing to be asked a few personal questions and give a small blood sample, we get to make healthier decisions today.

Technology is only good so long as we use it. There are millions of apps out there that might simplify some of our lives but they don't do us any good unless we download them. Yes that new TV and Cardinal Red grill (yes, I’m a follower!) would make tailgating 3x more fun, but if we don't go out and take advantage then we've only dreamed and not acted.

My challenge is to ask you to ACT. 

If you wait until tomorrow to register to enroll in this, you've missed your chance. We are encouraging as many people to register by Sept 3, this will allow us to plan and prepare for the enrollment – did I mention we are trying to enroll 500 during the 4 days in Northwest Arkansas.

Enrollment Dates are September 17 – 20
Sept 17 | Hope Cancer Resources | Springdale | 9AM-1:30PM
Sept 18 | Fayetteville Public Library | Fayetteville | 2PM – 6:30PM
Sept 19 | Mercy Family YMCA | Rogers, Village on the Creeks| 9AM-1:30PM
Sept 20 | Center for Non-Profits | Rogers | 9AM – 1:30PM

I recently walked into an office that had this sign hanging above the counter where they served customers- “There is no place like this place anywhere near this place, so this must be the place.” 

 Not only is this the place, but this is the time. I believe we are close to answers.  I believe answers can come in a lifetime.  But we have to stop thinking “someone else will do it” or “they have plenty of people”. 

Truth is, everyone is thinking that.  So, we need YOU.  Your kids need you.  Their friends, classmates and future spouses need you.  Your grand kids need you. I'm guessing that the median age of the readership here probably isn't thinking about grand kids, but neither were those guys in 1950 sitting around a room smoking asking "you think there's something to this?"  Yes!  And we life healthier, longer, more productive lives because of them.

Be the gift. Enroll. 

Need one more really good reason – check out this video

If you don't live in NWA, there are enrollment sites all over the nation. Check out

Thanks again to The Sparacino Chronicles for hosting me today.  Thanks to you for reading this far!  And, if you live in Northwest Arkansas and are curious about our local services or how you can volunteer with the American Cancer Society don’t hesitate to give me a call at our local office in Rogers – 479-246-0002.

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