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Pinellas Park plays role in fight against cancer
By ANNE LINDBERG
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 3, 2000
PINELLAS PARK -- If you're a white woman living in Pinellas County, you're more likely than minority women to get breast cancer. But if you're a black or Hispanic woman and you get breast cancer, you're more likely to die than if you were white.
A lot of minority women are not aware or don't have the resources to get to doctors for early detection, said Cassandra Montes, a cancer control specialist with the American Cancer Society.
That means that a white woman diagnosed with breast cancer will live an average of 15 years. A black or Hispanic woman, whose cancer is usually detected in the late stages, will live only from three to five years after the diagnosis.
That's one of the many sad facts about cancer. And it's one the American Cancer Society is trying to change with education.
But education takes money.
So Pinellas Park is gearing up to help the Cancer Society raise money in its annual Relay for Life on Friday night at the England Brothers Band Shell, 5060 81st Ave. N.
The event is one of six relays across Pinellas County and one of 2,800 across America. The Relays for Life account for about 25 percent of the American Cancer Society's total income nationally.
The Relay for Life began in 1985 in Tacoma, Wash., when a doctor decided to walk all night to raise money for the fight against cancer. The idea spread and reached Pinellas Park three years ago.
The success is based on several things, said Cliff Magee, a development specialist with the local branch of the American Cancer Society.
"I think it's because it's built around the community. . . . It happens where people go home at night. . . . It's something the entire family can enjoy," Magee said. "Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way shape or form."
This year's Pinellas Park relay will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and go until 11 a.m. Saturday. In addition to fun and fund-raising activities, there will be a march of cancer survivors as well and a lighting of luminaria in memory of those who've died of cancer.
City government teams already have been raising money before the event, said Melanie Hasburgh, Pinellas Park's public information officer and this year's Relay chairwoman.
A Fire Department team calling itself Gilligan's Island held a car wash. And the Law and Order team from the Pinellas Park Police Department held a yard sale at the Chamber of Commerce.
But there's still room for more teams and observers, Hasburgh said.
Magee agreed that the more people, the more fun. And it goes on rain or shine, he said.
And if anyone is wondering if the money is doing any good, Magee has one last set of figures to consider.
The survival rate for all types of cancer today is 54.9 percent.
"In 1923, it was zero," he said. "Zero percent."
If you go
Pinellas Park will hold Relay for Life 2000 this weekend at the England Brothers Band Shell and Park, 5060 81st Ave. N., to benefit the American Cancer Society. For information, call the American Cancer Society at 546-9822 or Melanie Hasburgh, public information officer for Pinellas Park, at 541-0700. The event schedule is as follows:
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