Be Counted: ‘Stand Up To Cancer’ and Make It a National Priority

September 5, 2008

Stand Up To Cancer, TennesseeBy Cynthia Floyd Manley (first appeared in The Tennessean, Sept. 5, 2008.)

What’s your cancer story?

We all have one. One in two men and one in three women in this country will face a cancer diagnosis. Those men and women are you. Your spouse, your children, your parent, your sibling. They are the co-worker in the next cubicle, the neighbor down the street or in the next pew at church.

We all have a cancer story. What’s yours?

I am a classmate, a friend, a colleague and a granddaughter. And I am standing up to cancer.

I stand up in memory of Elizabeth Porter, whose promising career as a journalist was cut short by melanoma. I stand up in memory of my grandfather, Charlie Floyd, who taught me the joy of a cold Coca-Cola and ice cream float. I stand up in loving support of the Pasleys, who have borne the burden of this disease enough for several lifetimes.

I also stand up in awe of patients and families, doctors and nurses, educators and advocates, scientists and supporters. I am lucky enough to have a job that lets me stand up to cancer every day by spreading the message that early detection saves lives, knowledge is power, and research will be the cure.

Tonight, three television networks — CBS, NBC and ABC — will carry a live, hourlong special with the message that it is time to “Stand Up To Cancer.” This movement is designed to raise funds to support innovative research that will move us closer to cures and to let our lawmakers know that ending cancer is a priority.

Nowhere does that message ring more true than here in Tennessee and in the Southeast, where we face the highest death rates from cancer in the country. We lose a Tennessee neighbor to cancer every hour.

I encourage you to watch this unprecedented event, an initiative of the Entertainment Industry Foundation and the American Association for Cancer Research, with other partners. More importantly, I encourage you to stand up to cancer in your own life and in our own community.

Arm yourself with information about reducing your risk. Protect yourself and your children from the sun. Don’t use tobacco, or get help kicking the habit. Get your screenings — your Pap test, your mammogram, your colonoscopy.

Find out about the great work and collaborations right here in Tennessee to stand up to cancer, through the Tennessee Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition and nonprofits like the American Cancer Society, Gilda’s Club Nashville, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Sisters Network and many others too numerous to list.

Volunteer. Give blood. Join the National Marrow Donor Registry. Give money.

And make your voice heard with a letter to the editor or a phone call to your senator or congressman.

You can learn more about ways to stand up to cancer at a new Web site, www.standuptocancerTN.com. Please visit, learn and share.

What’s your cancer story?

Cynthia Floyd Manley is Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center’s associate director for communications.

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