BELLINGHAM - At this year's Relay for Life of Whatcom County, people will not only walk or run in their fight against cancer, they can sign up to be part of a massive study that is expected to shed more light on cancer causes and prevention.
The American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study-3, better known as CPS-3, will enroll up to 300,000 people across the United States and Puerto Rico.
Those who want to participate will fill out a brief written survey, have their waist measured, give a small blood sample and sign a consent form at the Bellingham sign-up site on Friday evening, July 12. That takes about 30 minutes. They will be sent a more comprehensive baseline survey to fill out at home. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour, according to the American Cancer Society.
Over the course of the study, which is anticipated to last 20 to 30 years, participants will be asked to fill out follow-up surveys that will be sent to their homes.
"Many individuals diagnosed with cancer struggle to answer the question, 'What caused my cancer?' In many cases, we don't know the answer," said Alpa V. Patel, principal investigator of CPS-3, in a news release.
"CPS-3 holds the best hope of identifying new and emerging cancer risks, and we can only do this if members of the community are willing to become involved," Patel said.
Previous cancer studies, including CPS-1 and CPS-2, have involved millions of volunteer participants and have been major contributors to understanding the disease and development of public health guidelines for prevention. Those studies confirmed the link between smoking and lung cancer, demonstrated the link between larger waist size and increased death rates from cancer and other causes, and showed the impact of air pollution on heart and lung conditions.
CPS-2, which began in 1982, is still going, but changes in lifestyle and the understanding of cancer compelled investigators to launch a new study.
Those interested in signing up can stop by the Relay for Life registration desk in front of City Hall, 210 Lottie St., from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday to be directed to the study organizers.
Meanwhile, hundreds of local residents will begin the relay. The event opens at 6 p.m. Friday with a ceremony, followed by the survivor's lap, where those who have battled cancer make the loop on the streets around the Bellingham Public Library. Then the teams take over, most walking and some running, as they begin shifts for a relay that will last until 1 p.m. Saturday.
The luminaria ceremony is set for 11 p.m. Bags decorated to honor those battling or who have been lost to cancer are set along the course with a light inside to illuminate them. Anyone, whether or not they are participating in the race, can purchase a luminaria for $5.
At least 75 teams plan to participate. They have already raised more than $150,000, according to the Relay for Life website.
For more information, go online to relayforlife.org or check the Whatcom Relay for Life Facebook page.
Reach Debbie Townsend at 360-715-2280 or firstname.lastname@example.org .