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VENTURA COUNTY PERSPECTIVE

A Group Dedicated to Fighting Cancer Needs Your Help

September 17, 2000|WILLIAM H. THRASHER | William H. Thrasher lives in Oxnard

The good news / bad news, and the prognosis: A year ago I was battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma cancer. Thanks to a lot of prayers and several outstanding oncologists--including Dr. Rosemary McIntyre and Dr. Peter Rosen at UCLA Medical Center--I have survived.

I am healthy enough and grateful enough that this month I joined hundreds of other Ventura County residents in the Relay for Life, a fund-raising event for the American Cancer Society. Last weekend my wife Margaret and I walked and jogged two miles at the Oxnard High School track as part of the team. The event continues in Ventura County this weekend at Newbury Park High School. Similar programs will be held Oct. 7-8 at Royal High School in Simi Valley and Nov. 18-19 at Moorpark College.

Unfortunately, the only source of revenue for the cancer society is donations. Relay for Life is the principal fund-raising activity to sustain the organization and its cancer patient clients throughout the year.

In Ventura County, team members agree to jog, walk or crawl around the track at local schools. The money raised will be used for research and to recruit the best minds toward that end.

I appreciate being a beneficiary of research and treatment initiated by the cancer society. My oncologists used the latest technology and procedures to attack my cancer and treat me.

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Last weekend, walkers and joggers raised more than $154,000 at Oxnard and Camarillo high schools. My wife and I raised $1,100 of that. Nationally, the Relay for Life is expected to raise $175 million this year, compared to $168 million last year. More than 2,500 communities will participate.

A report delivered last year noted that breast cancer ranked fifth in the amount of government research funding received. Now, despite it being an election year, there is no evidence that government funding for research has increased. Perhaps the cancer society, including this writer, should have been demonstrating outside the political conventions in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

We can't fault the volunteers. Their efforts in raising money certainly have helped cancer survivors to lead quality lives. The cancer survival rate this year has increased by 7%, according to the cancer society. The figure is an estimate based on a number of factors, and it provides a glimmer of hope for cancer sufferers.

Every family in the United States has a member afflicted with some form of cancer, according to the National Institutes of Health and the cancer society. Every person knows or will know someone fighting this disease.

The cost is astronomical, a total of $107 billion annually. In the five years that I have received treatment, my insurance company has paid out more than $500,000. I am fortunate to have medical coverage, but thousands of sufferers do not. The cancer community could use your help.

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For information on how to participate in the remaining Relay for Life events in Ventura County, call (800) 227-2345.

Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society's primary fund-raising event, needs volunteers to sustain the organization and its clients.

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