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American Cancer Society Bus visits area supporters

Anastatia McGann, a 3-year-old cancer survivor, signs the rolling petition that is the ACS bus.

Sun Advocate community editor

After attending a leadership summit in Reno, Nev., Barbara Piccolo came back ready to partner with local residents including those involved with the 2009 Relay for Life to foster support for the Cancer Resource Center located at Castleview Hospital.

Piccolo started by inviting the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Bus to visit the area to lend inspiration to people who have been touched by the disease and those who want to lend a helping hand.

As the bus came to a stop on Price's Main Street, business owners and local patrons immediately came to pledge their name in support of cancer research. They took the markers made available by the ACS personnel and searched the covered bus for the smallest space to pledge their name in support of continued and increased cancer research and prevention.

Piccolo, who was asked to serve as the outreach chair for the cancer research center reported being overjoyed at having the opportunity to serve the community that aided in her recovery from potentially terminal cancer.

"What an honor and a privilege it is going to be to have the opportunity to work with cancer patients and their families in helping them to have the tools to understand and make their cancer experience easier," said Piccolo. "I have cancer and I know the devastating effects. I remember vividly the day I was told, 'You have cancer.'"

Piccolo stressed that those who have been there and those who are just diagnosed need to seek out the center.

"The center is located in Castleview's room 104 and we have resources and what we do not have we will do our best to get," she said.

The center's board consists of Sharon Hinkley the quality of life chair, Gail Harding the chairperson, Caroline Barrington the training chairperson and Piccolo.

They work closely with Relay for Life chair Paula Wells, who is gearing up to kick off the nearly year long fundraising venture this fall.

"The center is always looking for volunteers," continued Piccolo. "The more help we can get to fight this terrible disease the easier we can make it on those who are fighting it."

In 2008, the ACS CAN Bus will travel across the country, stopping in hundreds of communities to build the movement to make cancer issues a national priority. The bus will bring the story of patients, survivors and friends to the presidential candidates to make cancer a priority issue in their administration.

According to their site, today nearly 60 percent of all Americans live in a smoke-free community. But millions are still forced to work in smoke filled workplaces.

Additionally, advances in cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and care mean that the war on cancer is being won.

"But congress has frozen or cut funding for cancer research and programs for the past five years," explains the site. This is something the bus is hoping to fight.

"This bus serves a a giant petition and its size makes it hard to ignore," said ACS Media Advocacy Director Michael O'Sullivan. "We will have traveled over 50,000 miles letting people who care about cancer prevention sign the bus. It is our hope that this will force congress to take action."

Thus far, the strategy is working as the ACS and its volunteers have:

•Led 25 states as well as Washington, DC and Puerto Rico to go smoke free.

•Stopped legislation that would have eliminated guaranteed insurance coverage of mammograms.

•Passed state laws and referendums that are proven to help prevent children from starting or continuing to smoke.

•Launched a nationwide access to care initiative.

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