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Connellsville teacher, cancer survivor Shearer a community champion for CPS-3

| Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, 7:30 a.m.

Linda Shearer, an English teacher at Connellsville Area High School and founder and school sponsor for the CAHS Patriots, is a cancer survivor and community champion for the upcoming Cancer Prevention Study 3, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

“Linda is unable to be a part of the national research. It requires participants to have never had cancer. She has agreed to be a community champion for this project, encouraging others to sign up for this important research,” said Casey Sirochman, director of Carnegie Free Library in Connellsville where participants will enroll at a one-time appointment.

“This study is very meaningful to me. I am very, very pleased to see this because cancer is no respecter of persons,” Shearer said. “I was 13 when my mother was stricken with cancer, and at that time cancer was a dirty word. It wasn't said out loud. A portion of her spine was removed, and she was sent home. The doctors told Dad she had two weeks to two months.

“Eight years later, I turned 21 on Aug. 3 and my mother went home to be with the Lord on Aug. 21. Mom was here until all of her kids were grown. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer, and I lost two siblings to cancer.

“It seemed that no one got out of their 50s in my family, and when I was told I had cancer, I was 49,” Shearer said.

Researchers say CPS-3 holds the best hope for identifying new and emerging cancer risks, but its success depends on the involvement of members of communities.

“Many advancements have been made since the time my mother was charred by radiation. To know that treatments have improved and that there is medication and there are studies being done gives hope,” Shearer said. “Each of my family members had a different kind of cancer; no links. Today I am encouraged by advancements in cancer treatment, and I want to encourage those who can be a part of this study to do so.

“Research and education are so important. People have the opportunity to be a part of this with little effort,” she added. “This is a wonderful thing for our community because there has to be a reason. What is it? What are the factors? This is a nationwide study. I am so pleased that those in Connellsville and the surrounding area have this opportunity.”

Those interested in enrolling in the study are urged to sign up at www.southwestpacps3.org right now.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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