To the editor: As the chairwoman for the Relay for Life of Shamokin, I was compelled to write this after being approached and told the reason why some did not support The Mighty Masser Relay Team and the American Cancer Society (ACS) is due to the fact that the money collected does not help cancer patients but goes into the pockets of people. Before I decided to write this, I wanted to make sure that I had the correct information so I may education others who might have the same thoughts.

The American Cancer Society has many programs and services not only to help cancer patients, but also to support them throughout their treatments, from the time they are diagnosed, through treatment and into the survivors' program. I, as a widow of a cancer patient never got to use any of the programs due to the sudden loss, although the ACS did contact me to let me know there are support groups for me and our daughter.

The Peer Support Program offers one-on-one support from breast cancer survivors to people facing breast cancer.

Road to Recovery is a program that provides patient transportation to and from appointments, at no cost, by volunteer drivers.

The Patient Lodging Program helps patients when treatment is located in a different city. There are participating inns and hotels that offer free or reduced rates for the patient and one other family member. The ACS also offers Hope Lodge near several of the largest cancer treatment facilities. In the past year, five residents of Northumberland County stayed 47 nights at Hope Lodge facilities in Hershey and Philadelphia.

The Patient Navigator Program provides personalized information, support and resource referrals to cancer patients, caregivers and their family members; this is only offered at the larger institutions such as Fox Chase and the University of Pennsylvania.

Look Good ... Feel Good is a program for women going through cancer treatments that teaches make-up and skin care techniques to offset the damaging appearance-related effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Gift items such as wigs, turbans, scarves, mastectomy prostheses and other items are also available to those fighting cancer.

Tender Loving Care (TLC) is a magazine that supports women dealing with hair loss and other physical effects of cancer treatments.

For the Youth are free camps and retreats staff with medical personnel for families who are experiencing childhood cancer. There is also a Cancer Survivor College Scholarship Program that provides financial assistance to qualified young cancer survivors.

The ACS also has an Online Cancer Survivors Network that allows cancer patients to speak with others who are facing cancer. I Can Cope Online offers free classes for adults with cancer and their loved ones.

Sixty percent of the money that is raised by the different Relay for Life teams, including the relay held each year at Kemp Memorial Stadium in Coal Township, stays within the community, while the remaining 40 percent goes to research. The research dollars come back to our community every day with the treatments that people are taking that never would have been available if the research had not been done. Among them are Herceptin, a treatment for breast cancer; Revlamid, a treatment for multiple myeloma; and Gleevac, a treatment for leukemia. These and many others would not be in use today without research grants from the American Cancer Society.

I became involved with the relay when cancer hit very close to home. I always donated, but never really got involved, and if I would have known then what I know now I would have volunteered before. Knowing all the programs that are available to cancer patients and the number of cancer patients in our community - with 60 percent of the money staying in the area, just imagine if everyone reading this would donate $10, how much of a positive impact we would have on the patients and the survivors. I "relay" to make my late husband's wish of detecting cancer with pills become a reality, to celebrate with the survivors and to hope those patients who are fighting will be cured. I admire the courage and strength that each one of you shows as you fight the fight and, as long as I am standing, I will be fighting the fight for you.

If you are a cancer patient, family member or friend and would like any other information, or if you are in need of help, please contact ACS or you may even contact me.

This is my passion in life, and I will continue to fight for all of you.


Kathy Masser