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OHIO employees share reasons for joining cancer prevention study

The American Cancer Society's CPS-3 aims to end the fight against cancer

Two local women with ties to Ohio University are joining thousands of people nationwide in the fight against cancer by participating in an American Cancer Society (ACS) research study and are actively encouraging others to get involved.

Kim Valentour, director of WellWorks at Ohio University, and Susan Kozak, an administrative assistant for medical education at O'Bleness and Ohio University, have each experienced firsthand the devastating effects of cancer. These experiences have prompted them to participate in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3). CPS-3 focuses on the connection between lifestyle and cancer prevention.

The ACS is teaming up with communities across the country to find participants who will volunteer to be part of the study.

"I think everybody has these personal stories. Both of my parents died from cancer, you know, my mom at a fairly young age and my dad a couple of years ago. So it's definitely touched my family. I have other family members who have survived with cancer, lots and lots of friends," Valentour explained. "It sounds kind of cliché, but everybody's life has probably been touched by cancer in some way because it's somebody that you know. So definitely, it is a personal thing."

Both of Kozak's parents were diagnosed with cancer and she lost her father in the fight. She notes she's also had many friends who have had cancer. Like Valentour, Kozak says she is interested in looking for a cure to cancer.

"It's just research that's important," she said. "Cancer, I would say, touches a majority of people and families at one point or another over the course of a lifetime and it's a horrible disease and we just think about how far they've come with the research and so on and so forth. People do survive much longer and come so far and this would just help them even more."

CPS-3 is a longitudinal study that will take 20-30 years to complete. Valentour says she knows that there's a good chance that she won't live to see the results of the study, but she is still happy to be participating.

"You know, if there's some chance that we could prevent cancer, stop cancer from becoming a part of maybe my kids' lives or maybe their kids' lives, if they have kids, wouldn't that be cool?" she explained. "I mean it's kind of like you're part of history, too. It's a way to make that contribution. I mean we can do things, we can raise money for research, we can support our friends who have it and you know pray and grieve and everything else, but this kind of puts the science to it I think."

Kozak says she recognizes that it takes people getting involved in order to make a difference. If no one participates, then the study can't be completed, she says.

Kozak and Valentour are just two people of the 200 that ACS organizers say they hope to have volunteer from Athens County.

"I think it's really important for people in Athens County and this area to participate because they're looking for a diverse population and our area certainly meets that criteria with the University and just the surrounding area," Kozak said.

Three locations have been set up to help people in the area register. Anyone interested in getting involved can pre-register online at AthensCPS3.org for an appointment time or walk-ins are welcome. Registration takes place at the Baker Center Ballroom Oct. 9, at O’Bleness Memorial Hospital Oct.19 and at Nelsonville York Elementary School Oct. 22.