Ashley Engelman, senior director of media relations for the American Cancer Society spoke with Long Island Pulse about the organization’s mission, upcoming events and ways to get involved.
Pulse Insider: What is the American Cancer Society and what does it hope to achieve?
ACS: We’re an army of cancer fighters. The American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, we have regional and local offices throughout the country that ensure we have a presence in every community.
Pulse Insider: If someone were to ask you, “Why should I donate to American Cancer Society?” what would you tell him/her?
ACS: When you make a donation to the American Cancer Society, your money will have a direct impact in the fight against cancer. Whether it’s lifesaving research, cancer information, wigs, lodging or rides to and from treatment, your donation is going to something tangible and real.
Pulse Insider: Tell us what’s in store for American Cancer Society in the next three to six months.
ACS: Every month there’s something going on at the American Cancer Society. In October we’ll be donning our pink for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, the largest network of breast cancer awareness events in the nation. And November is the Great American Smokeout, a time when we encourage smokers to finally make a plan to quit. However, cancer doesn’t take a day off, which is why our research and patient service programs like Hope Lodge operate year round.
Pulse Insider: What’s the future of American Cancer Society, short and long-term?
ACS: You may remember the American Cancer Society marked its 100th birthday last spring. Today, we are looking beyond this milestone to how we can finally end cancer in this next century. We are laser-focusing our efforts where we believe we can have the greatest impact, focusing special attention on areas such as tobacco control, lung cancer, and colon cancer.
Pulse Insider: What is American Cancer Society’s proudest accomplishment?
ACS: A century ago, the word “cancer” was hardly ever spoken and we lost practically every patient to the disease. Today, thanks in part to the work of the Society, the progress we’re making against cancer is nothing short of remarkable. Since the 1990s, we’ve seen a 20 percent decline in cancer mortality rates, meaning we’ve helped avert 1.2 million cancer deaths. Put another way, we’re helping save more than 400 lives every day in the US that would have otherwise been lost to cancer.
Pulse Insider: Do you see American Cancer Society expanding internationally someday?
ACS: The American Cancer Society is already working beyond our borders to finish the fight against cancer through advocacy and tobacco control programs. We work in partnership with cancer and tobacco control nongovernmental organizations, international organizations, and government agencies throughout the world. Our efforts cut across all regions, but special emphasis is placed on programs in sub-Saharan Africa.
Pulse Insider: What’s the best way for people to get involved?
ACS: Whether it’s giving a cancer patient a ride to treatment, putting together a team for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer or sending an email to family and friends about our cancer screening guidelines, there are multiple ways you can get involved in the Society’s lifesaving mission. The best place to start would be to visit cancer.org or calling 1-800-277-2345.
Pulse Insider: Can you tell us about Making Strides Against Breast Cancer?
ACS: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (MSABC) is the largest network of breast cancer awareness events in the nation, uniting more than 300 communities to finish the fight. Every breast cancer walk and event is an incredible and inspiring opportunity to honor those who have battled breast cancer, raise awareness about what we can do to reduce our breast cancer risk, and raise money to help the American Cancer Society fight the disease with research, information, services, and access to mammograms for women who need them. Walks are noncompetitive and range is distance from 3 to 5 miles.
Pulse: Where and when was the most successful Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event held?
ACS: The most successful Making Strides event in 2013 was held no further than Jones Beach, Long Island. Our Jones Beach event raised a whopping $3.15 million for cancer research and patient service programs.
Pulse Insider: For someone who has never been to a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event before, what can they expect?
ACS: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is a celebration. At each walk you’ll find a sea of pink, with hundreds or thousands of people hugging, dancing, rejoicing and- of course- walking to finish the fight.