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American Cancer Society study open to Westmoreland County residents

| Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Local residents compelled with a desire to make a personal philanthropic contribution to the immediate and global community will now have that chance, as the American Cancer Society is currently recruiting enrollees for a nation-wide cancer prevention study it is conducting. The study is open to anyone in the United States between the ages of 30 and 65 who has never been diagnosed with cancer, though basal and squamous cell skin strains do not apply. This will be the last opportunity residents in this area will have to participate, as the sign-up period will close Dec. 31.

The study will be an ongoing, progressive expanse of 20 years. Enrolling in the study is a two-step process: the first involves making an appointment to attend one of the enrollment sign-ups that will be taking place throughout November at locations in Greensburg, Johnstown, Leechburg and Connellsville. Here, participants will complete a small survey, get a waist measurement taken and have a blood sampling drawn. The rest of the two-decade course will happen at home, as participants will be asked throughout the 20 years to periodically complete surveys relating to lifestyle habits.

“It's really just checking a box,” explained Teresa Segelson, who works as a representative for the American Cancer Society in Westmoreland County. “We began enrollment six years ago. It was slow; we had hoped to have at least 500,000. Now the aim is 300,000 so that the study will still be medically sound.”

The goal for Westmoreland County is 100 participants, all of which, Segelson stated, will be making a huge impact.

“We encourage people to think of the potential outcomes,” Segelson said. “One hundred participants for this county may not seem to be a lot, but this can really help our long-term research.”

Segelson knows personally the impacts of the disease, as her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago.

“When my mom was diagnosed, I was so thankful for my job at the American Cancer Society,” she said. “I never realized the depth of the research — there is a lot we know thanks to that, but still a lot we don't.”

Segelson, who is a mother of three, hopes that with studies such as these, it will be our posterity who will prosper.

“I want our children to be the benefactors of these findings,” she said. “I think with my mom brain — I think of my kids, and I want more information on the decisions we are making.”

During the study period, participants will receive annual newsletters, updating them on developments. As the study progresses, information and findings will be released and used for greater research purposes. Aside from the ongoing quest for a cure and a broader base of scientific knowledge, members of the American Cancer Society hope that, in the meanwhile, studies like this will help grant those affected by the disease a most cherished possession — more time.

“Our motto is that we are the official sponsors of birthdays,” Segelson stated. “We can all help the nation and help the world celebrate more birthdays with those they love. Through this study, we are all doing just that.”

Appointments can be scheduled by visiting or by phoning 1-888-604-5888. The enrollment event will take place 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at the Donohoe Center in Greensburg, located at 214 Donohoe Road, Suite E, in the Penn State Extension Conference Room. Other locations in Johnstown, Leechburg and Connellsville will be available on different dates.

Rebecca Ridinger is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.