RFL Training Plan: Mission Integration

In the end, all we do for the American Cancer Society revolves around…... MISSION. 

As Relayers, everything we do, everything we fight for, everything we believe in, stems from the heart and soul of the American Cancer Society’s mission statement. “Save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer” is the common goal that we’re all working towards.

Every American Cancer Society (ACS) volunteer is directly supporting the mission of the organization, and we should be proud and eager to speak freely about the ways ACS carries out its mission. When your participants understand how their donations are being used, they’re much more likely to fundraise. Familiarize yourself with the graphic below that explains exactly how ACS uses donor dollars:

Where the money goes graphic.JPG

Our role as ACS volunteers is to be able to integrate mission into everything we do, so that we bring the heart of the organization to the forefront of our participants’ mind. Mission can range from several different concepts that we may not recognize as mission at first. Because mission is so versatile, there are many ways we can think of mission and incorporate it into our Relay endeavors throughout the year. Here, I'll give ideas on ways you can integrate mission more  on your campuses so that you can educate your campus about the heart of ACS.

  • Mission Moments: at your committee meetings, kick things off by reminding your board/committee what ACS is all about. This can be done in several different ways. One easy way is to share cancer statistics pertaining to the cancer of the month, or sharing anything relevant happening in the cancer world such as breakthroughs in research or new facts. This information can be found on www.cancer.org or on the ACS YouTube channel as well! Another great and extremely personal version of Mission Moments is sharing our own stories with cancer in our lives. Have a committee member start a meeting off by explaining why they Relay and what this organization means to them. Not only is this a tangible and relatable way to understand what Relay means to someone else, but it also induces team bonding and brings Mission to the forefront of the meeting to start with!

  • Mission in Canning: A great way to integrate mission into canning is by using facts and statistics in a unique and clever way. One way is to wear neck signs that you make yourself to promote statistics. One could read “⅓ women and ½ men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Ask me how we can make that 0/3 women and 0/2 men” or another could read “I can't take off this sign until I raise $500, ask me why!” These are attention grabbing signs that'll bring people in to talk to you, which will give you the opportunity to share the mission of ACS and talk about why you Relay! Be sure to go canning wherever you can, be that in front of local businesses, in your dorm building, or anywhere on campus!

    • A clever way I've seen a friend fundraise is to can with a guitar! For every $10 raised for ACS, a Road to Recovery ride can be funded! So for every $10 he raised, he'd perform a song! This is a cool way to draw in attention while adding in an aspect of mission, which in this case is Road To Recovery rides! If you aren't as musically talented, see if you can bring a talented friend with you to tag team this approach, having one person perform while the other talks about Relay and ACS’ mission!

  • “Why I Relay Wednesday”: While social media can often be seen as distracting for the plethora of memes to be seen online (guilty), it can also be a pretty amazing plug for Relay promotions as well!

    • One phenomenal way to promote Relay is to join the “Why I Relay Wednesday” movement! Every Wednesday, you post a picture or status or tweet explaining why you Relay! It can be for a loved one, for more cancer research grants, for a certain statistic (I Relay so that testicular cancer survival rates go from 95% to 100%), for a cancer free future, or literally anything at all! At the end of the post, you use the hashtag #WhyIRelayWednesday, so that nationwide we see a collection of pictures and posts all connected by this hashtag, bringing together the Relay world while promoting mission on social media. This is a great way to share the mission of ACS and your personal story to your social media followers who may not be as familiar with Relay as you are, while having the opportunity to create an international network of Relayers who share their love for this organization!

  • Use the Cancer Ed Toolkit to your advantage: The Cancer Ed Toolkit is filled with tons of creative and fun ideas to bring to your campus in order to raise awareness of specific types of cancers! Be sure to check out this month by month guide for a detailed list of mission related ideas to bring to your campus!

  • An important distinction between Relay and other cancer fighting events is how the money raised is used in two important ways. Relay dollars invest in a future without cancer by funding research, but they also help cancer patients who are battling right now. Highlight the various programs offered by ACS to support patients and their families: Many participants aren’t aware of the various programs that are offered by the American Cancer Society to support patients and their families. On social media, through committee meetings, and through events and programming, be sure to highlight these important programs so that people learn the mission goes beyond saving lives through research, but also through supporting lives through these programs!

    • Road To Recovery:

    • 24/7 Cancer Hotline:

    • Hope Lodges:

    • Look Good Feel Better:

Remember that isn't an end-all-be-all list of things you can do on your campus! This is just to get the gears turning and to provide kickstarting ideas of how to smoothly integrate mission into everything you do on your campuses to really bring the heart and soul of Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society to the forefront of your campaign!

List of online resources

Lung, Bladder & Pancreatic Cancer

Blog by Will P. of the Southeastern Region Campus Leadership Team

For the past several weeks, I have been working on organizing an “Amazing Relayer” fundraiser on Lafayette’s campus. The concept for the fundraiser is similar to the show, The Amazing Race, as participants in both race to complete activities in order to win. The idea of doing it as a Relay For Life fundraiser started (as far as I know) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and I have been basing my event off of theirs.

I wanted our event to be fun and enticing, obviously, but I also wanted to use it as a form of cancer education. I wanted to help spread cancer facts that most people are unaware of, even though they are important in terms of risk factors and prevention for different types of cancer.  In my research for the event, I came across some facts and information that even I was unaware of, so I thought it would be beneficial and interesting to share some of these facts, as well as other lesser-known tidbits, with the rest of the Campus Relay World. 

Everyone knows that smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that. I mean A LOT more to it. To start, smoking isn’t just connected to lung cancer. It is also strongly connected to esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon and rectum cancers. 

Building off of that, lung cancer is not just caused by smoking. In fact, roughly 20,000 people die of lung cancer every year after never touching a cigarette. There is an unfortunate stigma surrounding lung cancer where people believe that everyone who has lung cancer smoked, and therefore they brought it upon themselves. Lung cancer is also one of the least funded types of cancers, in part due to this stigma. Organizations like the American Lung Association and Lung Cancer Alliance are working to dispel this stigma. The second leading cause of lung cancer, which most people are unaware of, is exposure to radon, which is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and radioactive gas. The only way to know of the presence of radon is to test for it, which can actually be done fairly easily. You can buy tests online and have results within 1-2 weeks. 

Moving on, I found that pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates. The risk factors for pancreatic cancer aren’t unusual. Smoking, older age, obesity, genetics and diabetes top most lists for risk factors, and yet all have been linked to many different types of cancer. Different diseases, like pancreatitis, have sometimes been linked to pancreatic cancer as well. Ninety-five percent of all pancreatic cancers begin in exocrine cells, which produce digestive enzymes, and the other five percent start in endocrine cells, which produce hormones. Because pancreatic cancer can start in either type of cell, and the cells have completely different functions, the symptoms for the two types of pancreatic cancer are very different. Jaundice, weight loss and back and abdomen pain are a few common symptoms for cancer that starts in the exocrine cells. Sweating, rapid heart rate, and nausea are just a few symptoms for cancer that starts in the endocrine cells. 

Another interesting thing I learned was about bladder cancer. It doesn’t create the kind of buzz that lung and breast cancers do, yet it is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. Although it can be hard to determine the cause, bladder cancer is many times caused by parasitic infection or environmental issues. One example of an environmental issue is arsenic in a water supply. There is strong evidence that relates arsenic exposure to bladder cancer. This, like radon, can also be tested for with some fairly inexpensive tests that can be purchased online. 

Now here are some shorter, but still not well known, cancer facts:

  • A study released a few years ago illustrated that sleep deprivation could lead to more polyps in a person’s colon and an increased cancer risk.

  • According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning (419,000) than lung cancer cases due to smoking.

  • For most cases of liver cancer, the cause is unknown.

  • Testicular cancer has the highest survival rate, while pancreatic has the lowest.

  • Certain trained dogs have been able to smell cancers! Seriously. MIND. BLOWN. And they’re accurate about 90-95% of the time, which is better than some lab tests. Get it? Lab? Because of some dogs… Nevermind. It’s a real statistic.

Well, I hope this blog has taught you something about cancer that you didn’t know before. If you have any questions about specific facts or statistics, or are interested in also doing an “Amazing Relayer” fundraiser, let me know. Shoot me an email at pfadenwill@gmail.com. 

Sources: American Cancer Society, NIH National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Skin Cancer Foundation, CNN.

Campus FAQ's: Virtual Survivor Programs

Do you Relay for a Survivor who cannot make it to your event because of health, distance, or other constraints? Did you know they can still participate in your event as a Virtual Survivor? Download the Virtual Survivor Sheet to share with your event!

What is a Virtual Survivor?

A Virtual Survivor is a person that has been diagnosed with cancer but cannot physically attend a Relay For Life event  due to distance, time, illness, or any other constraint. These are the people in our lives that we CELEBRATE at Relay For Life, whether or not they can be with us at the event.

How does it work? 

If you have a loved one who is unable to join us at the Relay For Life Opening Ceremony, you can still pay tribute to them by walking in their place.  By creating an 8.5x11 poster, you can honor them throughout the night.  In addition to carrying this poster, you can honor them by decorating the back of your event t-shirt.

Why Should I Participate?

Relay is all about Celebrating Survivorship.  We all Relay for someone special and the Virtual Survivor program allows you to CELEBRATE the life of your loved one when they can’t be with you at Relay.  Have your Survivor register at www.RelayForLife.org/ (your event name) as a Survivor.

If your Survivor does not have an email address but would like to sign up for an event, there is an easy process to get them registered, without having scan a form. They can call the National Cancer Information Center (NCIC) at 1-800-227-2345 option 2 and tell the Income Support Specialist (ISS) that they would like to register as a survivor for an event, but that they don’t have an email to use or wish to share. A NCIC representative will ask them a few questions to understand the level at which they’d like to participant and register them. They will also explain how to update their registration if they want to actively fundraise online or update their personal fundraising page, which will require an email.

ACS Programs: NUPA Guidelines

The American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention

Most of us are aware that we should avoid tobacco products to reduce our lifetime risk of cancer. But for those of us who don’t smoke, or have quit, what else can we be doing to decrease our risk?

Health is undoubtedly one of the most talked about topics today. From diets to the shake weight, everyone is searching for the latest and greatest way to look good and feel even better. Well, what if I were to tell you that a healthy lifestyle is one of biggest ways to prevent cancer. In 2007, more than 84,000 new cancer diagnoses were due to obesity alone. However, studies have shown that physical activity reduces the risk of several cancers, including colon and breast cancer. The American Cancer Society has created the Nutrition and Physical Activity (NUPA) Guidelines, which focus on healthy lifestyle changes that we can make to reduce our lifetime risk of cancer. In fact, they state that for those who do not smoke, lifestyle factors such as body weight, diet, and physical activity are some of the most important cancer risk factors that can be changed.

Here is a summary of the ACS NUPA Guidelines:

Healthy Weight

  • Avoid excess weight gain

  • Losing even a small amount of weight has shown health benefits

  • Participate in regular exercise and limit high-calorie foods to maintain a healthy weight

Physical Activity

  • Adults: 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise each week

  • Children/Teens: At least 1 hours of moderate or vigorous intensity exercise each day, with vigorous activity at least 3 days per week

  • Limit sedentary behavior

Healthy Diet

  • Limit processed meat and red meat

  • 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day

  • Choose whole grains over refined grains

Limit Intake of Alcohol

  • No more than 1 drink per day for women

  • No more than 2 drinks per day for men

For access to the full set of guidelines, click here!

Turn the NUPA Guidelines into a game at your next Team Captain or club meeting, or use these facts at your Relay for Life event!

  • Create a Jeopardy or Family Feud game

  • Use a beach ball and write NUPA questions in the different areas of the beach ball. Pass it around the room, and whatever questions is closest to your right hand, you have to answer that question

  • Create a list of NUPA phrases or facts, and play “Pictionary Telephone”

Blog by Ashley Boone and Ross Nickles - North Region Campus Leadership Team


Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hey Campus Relayers!

As you all know, October is here and that means the cancer of the month is breast cancer! Breast Cancer is one of the better known cancers in the country, as one in eight women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetimes. It is predicted that nearly 250,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2016, and that 40,000 women will die of breast cancer in 2016. 

A lot of Campus Relayers all over the country have had experiences with breast cancer in their life, whether it is a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, a friend, or any woman in your life, breast cancer has affected many of us across the globe in different ways, shapes, and forms.

Although breast cancer has affected so many loved ones in our lives, there’s a lot to celebrate! Since 1989, death rates due to breast cancer have been dropping more and more each year, due to advances in medical technology and prevention techniques that the American Cancer Society has done a tremendous job of educating people about. At this time, there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, and that’s something truly remarkable.

That’s why this October, we’re going to celebrate together, as a nationwide campus movement. This year we’re launch our first ever Breast Cancer Awareness Celebration Week! Participating in this celebration is super easy and will be tons of fun, and this is how it’s going to work:

Campuses (that’s you guys!) will be putting on Breast Cancer Awareness events on your campuses! Whether you hand out mammogram reminder postcards on National Mammography Day, table on your campus with a bra pong booth, hand out pink ribbons or pink Relay tshirts, or whatever other way you choose to promote Breast Cancer Awareness on your campus, we want to see what you’re doing! We ask that you send us videos and pictures of the events that you host on your campus, describe what the event is, the impact it had on your campus/how many people were involved, and the name of your school! We ask that you send these in by Saturday, October 22nd at the latest!

Then, from October 24th to October 31st, we will have our Breast Cancer Awareness Celebration Week! Through Facebook posts, Instagram pictures, and blog posts on our Campus Relay Website, we will be featuring and spotlighting all the schools that participated in the event so that the entire country can see the amazing work that you’ve done on your campus to raise awareness for breast cancer!

To help you guys out in the planning of your Breast Cancer Awareness events, we at the National Campus Leadership Team have created a special resource that we are launching out called the Cancer Education Toolkit! This toolkit is a month by month guide filled with ideas, graphics, and other resources that pertain specifically to that month’s specific cancer. Here is the link the October Guide of the Cancer Ed. Toolkit, which should help plenty if you’re stuck on coming up with ideas to raise awareness on your campus! 

Best of luck in all of your Breast Cancer Awareness events! We can’t wait to see what you do to raise awareness on your campuses!

Blog by: Jazib Gohar, NCLT- Cancer Education Chair

ACS CAN Lobby Day 2016

Every year, hundreds of American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network staff partners and volunteers travel to Washington, D.C. for the annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. The goal is always the same: meet with our nation's lawmakers to share personal stories and ask that they make the fight against cancer a national priority. However, each year presents different challenges and objectives. 

This year, we will be calling on Congress to support three unique asks. 

First and foremost, ACS CAN volunteers are requesting an increase in cancer research funding. We have proposed a $680 million increase for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Current projects are seeing great success in treating cancer, but hundreds of researchers are forced to abandon their groundbreaking work due to a lack of funding. As the incidences of cancer are projected to increase dramatically over the next decade, this ask is crucial. It is important to ride the momentum of current research projects and ensure new projects are properly funded.

Secondly, we are asking Congress to support the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act. This is more commonly referred to as the Quality of Life Bill. Individuals diagnosed with cancer are faced with fear of the unknown, effects of treatment, and lingering physical symptoms of survivorship. Palliative care is an extension of care, and when used in combination with curative treatment plans, it has been proven to be most effective for cancer patients and their families. Individuals affected by cancer deserve an organized plan of overall treatment and this bill will provide that. 

Lastly, volunteers will stress the importance to support the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screenings Act. Colorectal cancer is highly preventable with the help of screenings and removal of polyps. However, a loophole exists that leaves seniors on Medicare with a surprise bill if a polyp is found during a routine colonoscopy. We must better protect these individuals, while continuing to promote yearly colorectal cancer screenings. 

Each ask is a tall order in itself, but with personal stories, as well as the passionate staff partners and volunteers, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is making great strides each year. It is our mission to further our success in the fight against cancer this week in Washington, D.C. at Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. 

Leadership Summit and Lobby Day were unlike any other event I have attended. On the first two days of our visit, over 700 volunteers from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and Guam gathered to learn about the legislative asks and get prepared for the meetings with congressmen and women. Volunteers attended many breakout sessions where we split into groups based on experience and met peers from all walks of life. These meetings helped us gather stories to share with our lawmakers and bring back to our communities.

Lobby Day itself was a day full of emotions: power, hope, and a bit of nervousness. Meeting with lawmakers can be intimidating at first, but they turned out to be extremely receptive to all of our asks. Our personal stories helped bring reality to the legislation and proved our dedication to the cause. The day was busy and involved a lot of walking around and navigating the buildings, but was one of the most rewarding experiences we had all been a part of.

After Lobby Day, we were able to come back as a united front to share our lobbying stories. While varying states had different outcomes, no one felt defeated after leaving their meetings. We were all inspired and full of hope for the future after meeting with our lawmakers and sharing our stories. Some newcomers, like me, were able to witness the strong bonds that our veteran volunteers have developed with longstanding congressmen and women.

Lobby Day was an unforgettable experience that taught me so much about fellow volunteers, ACS CAN, and the policy aspect of healthcare legislation. Seeing so many dedicated volunteers come together for one cause is incredibly moving and inspiring. I believe all volunteers should have the opportunity to attend a local or federal Lobby Day and get motivated by volunteers near and far.

To get involved or learn more about ACS CAN and their mission, please visit acscan.org

Blog written by Allison Johnson (WRCLT) and Alessia Riccio (NRCLT)

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

It’s September! The leaves are starting to change, college football is in full swing, and pumpkin spice lattes are back (if you’re into that). But more importantly, September is also a big cancer awareness month--September is the awareness month for childhood, gynecological, leukemia/lymphoma, ovarian, prostate, and thyroid cancers. In this week’s post, we’re going to be focusing on Childhood Cancer. 

If you’re a baseball fan, you may have noticed different players, coaches and reporters around the MLB wearing yellow ribbons. These are for childhood cancer awareness. Why is childhood cancer different from other cancers? And how can we join the fight? Childhood cancer, in the most broad sense, is any type of cancer that affects children. The most common childhood cancers are different from those that affect adults; childhood cancer is similar in that it is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. However, for children, these abnormalities come from their genetics, with little to no effect from environmental factors. And that is why we focus on Childhood Cancer this month: to give children a chance to reclaim their childhood from cancer.

The battle is far from over, but it’s part of our mission to celebrate how far we have come. This month, the CDC released new information about childhood cancer- some good, some bad. Brain cancer is now the number one cause of death amongst children and teens in the United States. Looking beyond this, however, we see that the reason brain cancer is the number one cause of death is because survival rates for leukemia, the previous leading cause, have risen significantly. In essence, the support and treatment has the ACS changing lives, with one cancer at a time. Additionally, the funding for new and alternate treatments has drastically changed the lives of those affected by cancer: compared to past decades, children diagnosed with cancer now have an 80% chance of surviving for 5 or more years, whereas the rate in the 1970s was 58%. This jump in survivorship is more than worthy of recognition, but know that the ACS’s track record shows that they will never stop fundraising and researching until there are no statistics such as these.  

The American Cancer Society fights childhood cancer in several ways. The ACS provides information as well as services to those diagnosed. On their website alone (cancer.org), there are dozens of articles regarding childhood cancer, covering subjects that range from coping with diagnosis, to understanding pediatric oncology better, and even to returning to school after remission). ACS programs, like Road to Recovery, Hope Lodges, and Look Good Feel Better, are all available for childhood cancer patients. The Society also funds research and health programs aimed at helping children with cancer and their families. Lastly, ACS CAN advocates for laws and policies that increasing funding for research, help improve the quality of life for children that face cancer, and broaden health care access. 

Curious how you can make a difference in the fight against Childhood Cancer? Here are a couple ideas to help you get started:

  • Help spread awareness! Posts on social media work well, but don’t be afraid to also start a conversations with people.

  • Wear gold to show support for families and patients of childhood cancer!

  • Organize a letter drive (possibly for upcoming holidays, like Halloween and Thanksgiving) to deliver to a nearby cancer treatment center to show a child that we are fighting for them!

  • Host an awareness/education event on campus for childhood cancer. There’s no better way to start off the Relay Year than a big cancer education/advocacy push!

  • Join ACS CAN! For $10 you get a year long subscription to the Cancer Action Network which makes a real difference when it comes to laws and policies. There are a lot of ways you can become more involved with ACS CAN if you have the time/ability.

Thank you for tuning in to this week’s blog! The inspirational children and families we are spotlighting this month show that it’s our hope, not our hurts, that shape our future.

Co-Authored by: Will Pfadenhauer and Ana Landon (Southeast Regional Team)

Campus FAQ's: Caregiver

What The Heck Is A Caregiver, Anyway?

Blog By: Colleen Eccles & Alex Pfadenhauer, North Campus Leadership Team

Welcome back for the 2016-2017 Relay season! With the start of the new season and the semester, we have some great information to help you connect your committee and relayers with what it really means to be a caregiver. Within the college market caregivers are everywhere, yet no one knows what it really means to be one. There are two forms of caregivers: informal and formal. A formal caregiver is someone who is paid to provide care such as nurse, therapist, social worker and home health aids. College students working toward a degree within these fields will begin to identify within these specifications post graduation and be able to help families and patients. An informal caregiver is someone who is doing it out of love, respect and friendship. Most college and post college relayers will be able to find themselves identifying within this type of caregiving title. Being an informal caregiver can mean anything from sending a text, helping with transportation or just giving your time. 

What is a caregiver?

“A caregiver is a family member, friend, loved one, or other support person who lends physical, emotional, or other support to someone at any time during the cancer journey and continues to do so for those who have lost a loved one to cancer.“
-American Cancer Society

Here’s a fun little exercise that can be used at committee meetings, at your event, etc. to help explain to other Relayers who a Caregiver truly is! (If using at a Relay event, skip the first step)

  1. Have the group brainstorm who a caregiver is:

    1. Use sheets from a flipchart and place them around the room, then divide the group up into small teams and let them work individually before bringing it back to the group

    2. Consolidate all of the groups’ ideas, and write them on the whiteboard

  2. Next, poll the group on what caregiver duties they have performed recently, by asking them to raise their hand or stand up as you call out each action

    1. First, start with the ideas from the brainstorming session. Use ‘formal caregiver’ actions first, then transition to more ‘informal caregiver’ actions. (If you are confused by formal vs. informal, see the CDC resources for caregivers!)

    2. Once you have exhausted the brainstorming ideas, transition to the list provided below. Make sure to hit the majority or all of the points on it!

  3. Now, explain what truly makes a caregiver:

    1. Explain that every single thing that people raised their hand for makes them a caregiver! If you raised your hand at any point, even if only once for calling and checking on someone, you are still considered a caregiver!

    2. Present the definition of a caregiver to reinforce that even the smallest efforts matter! (For example, use the CDC resources to explain formal vs. informal, and show that everyone ….. )

    3. Use the resources below as well as other cancer.org information to demonstrate the role and importance of caregivers.

  4. Call to action! Now, you need to utilize all of this new caregiver energy!

    1. Obviously, make sure they have registered and are fundraising for your event

    2. Encourage them to get their survivor or other caregivers involved

    3. Recruit them to lead the caregiver lap or volunteer at the survivor tent/meal/etc at your event

    4. Remind them to spread the word about what it means to be a caregiver! There are so many people who have no idea they qualify, but if we start spreading the word, it will

You are a caregiver if you…

  • Drive them to or from treatment

  • Make (or buy) them meals

  • Send them a text checking in

  • Help with yardwork

  • Hold their hand during treatment

  • Pick up groceries for them

  • Help with personal care

  • Help out with household tasks

  • .... Do anything to support a survivor or their family physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Additional Resources

(Material partially obtained from the American Cancer Society Eastern Division Relay For Life Survivorship Chair Guidebook and the American Cancer Society California Division Relay For Life Survivorship Handbook)

Relay Best Practices: Kickoff's

Now that Labor Day has passed, we know that summer is coming to a close! Which can only mean one thing: the 2017 Relay For Life season is upon us!

In just a few short days all of the BRAND NEW event websites will be live. As a best practice, we encourage every campus to host a Fall Kickoff to market their Relay For Life event to the entire campus. Kickoffs could include hosting a “Relay Rally” in which students on your campus come out to see what a day-of Relay experience is like, promoting Relay through tabling with games and activities as well as computers for anyone interested in signing up, or even having an ice cream social where your committee has the opportunity to talk about Relay and why others should join! There are truly endless opportunities, but the central message of a Kickoff should be to jump-start Relay on your campus, and showcase what an incredible event you are. This is your chance to make a powerful first impression on your study body that can set the tone for your Relay year.
Kickoffs are a great way to start every semester by reminding them that Relay For Life is the largest worldwide movement to end cancer, and by joining they will be a part of helping the American Cancer Society SAVE MORE LIVES! Take a look at these videos for more inspiration on how to bring a kickoff event to your school with speakers, informational booths, and more:
Virginia Tech Kickoff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KiHqC3W5gE
Relay For Life of Turkey Kickoff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-HCqKIbbPZU

Whether you decide to host a large or small kickoff, be creative and have fun with it! There are several ideas on our latest Best Practice Guide HERE. As always, you can also utilize our Campus Relay For Life & CAC Facebook page to ask any questions or seek ideas from other schools across the nation. 

Questions or comments? Contact Kelly or Corey, NCLT Co-Chairs!

Cancer Education: Sun Safety

With summer in full swing, we wanted to bring sun safety to your attention to make sure you know all the facts behind sun safety and so that you can take measures to protect yourself from the sun!

Why Sun Safety?

The big focus behind sun safety comes from UV (Ultraviolet) radiation. UV radiation comes mainly from the sun, but can also come from other sources like tanning beds. These UV rays, in excess and higher intensity, can damage the DNA in the cells in our body. Since UV rays cannot pass through the body, they radiate and damage our skin cells which causes skin cancer.

Basic Facts:

  • Skin cancer is a malignant tumor that develops from skin cells. Basal cell cancers start in the basal cells, and they’re the most common variation of skin cancer since they account for 80% of cases. Squamous cell skin cancers account for 20% of skin cases and start in the squamous cells.

  • Melanoma starts in the melanocytes, and these cells create melanin which gives skin its tan color. These tumors are usually black or brown and are most commonly found on the trunk (chest and back) in men, and on the legs in women.

  • The most common sign of skin cancer is an unusual sore, lump, blemish, marking, or change in a way an area of skin either looks or feels. The skin may become scaly or crusty or begin oozing or bleeding. Pain or discomfort are often involved as well and may not heal or get worse.

Studies of Sun Exposure:

Basal and squamous cell skin cancer, the most common types of skin cancer, and Melanoma are linked to sun related behaviors, such as:

  • Spending time in the sun for recreation (going to the beach)

  • Spending a lot of time in the sun in a swimsuit

  • Living in an area with high amount of sun

  • Suffered serious sunburns in the past

  • Having signs of sun damage to the skin, such as liver spots, rough skin patches, or thickened dry skin


Who is at risk?

  • People who get a lot of exposure to UV light are at greater risk for skin cancer; exposure at a young age is an added risk factor.

  • A person who has many moles is more likely to develop melanoma.

  • Whites with fair (light-colored) skin that freckles or burns easily are at especially high risk.

  • Melanoma risk is greater if one or more first-degree relatives (parent, sibling, or child) has had melanoma. Around 10% of all people with melanoma have a family history of the disease.

  • Men are about twice as likely as women to have basal cell cancers and about three times as likely to have squamous cell cancers of the skin. Before age 40, melanoma risk is higher for women; after age 40, the risk is higher in men.

  • Melanoma is 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 2% for whites, 0.1% for African Americans, and 0.5% for Hispanics.

What is the best way to protect yourself?

  • The “Slip! Slop! Slap! Wrap!” rules are the ones to follow:

    • Slip on a shit to cover your skin

    • Slop on some sunscreen of at least SPF 30 on all exposed skin

    • Slap on a hat to shade your face, ears, and neck

    • Wrap on a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes and the nearby skin

  • Always be sure to check your skin regularly! The sooner skin cancer is found, the chances are better for successful treatment.

    • Make sure to learn the pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin so you'll be well aware when there any changes.

    • Use a full length mirror in a well lit room, or a handheld mirror to examine the scalp, lower back, and other hard to see areas.

Ways to raise awareness on YOUR campus!

  • Do a “Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap!” race for sun safety. Divide participants into groups of four people. On one side of the field, place one of each of the following items for each team: an oversized T-shirt for “Slip on a Shirt,” a hat for “Slap on a Hat,” a cup of sunscreen for “Slop on Sunscreen,” and a pair of sunglasses for “Wrap on Sunglasses.” Each team sends one player down the field to put on the appropriate item. That player then runs back and tags the next person on their team. The first team to “Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap” wins!

  • Carry black umbrellas with sun safety messages and skin cancer facts painted on them around campus.

  • Play Holey Moley! Paint a face on a board, cut holes for moles, and play cornhole. Incorporate the ABCDEs of cancerous moles by asking participants to state the ABCDEs – asymmetry, border, color, diameter, elevation – before each toss.

  • Hand out shade caps and sunscreen at outdoor athletic events.

  • Host a sunscreen Slip and Slide. Don't forget to provide goggles!

  • Create a skin cancer information quiz:

    • Give everyone three minutes to complete the quiz.

    • Go over the answers and give a prize to the person who gets the most right!

No matter how you choose to have in fun in the sun, make sure you’re taking the right precautions so that you’re protecting yourself! 

Questions or comments? Reach out to Jazib- NCLT Cancer Education Chair at jazibgohar2018@u.northwestern.edu.

Relay For Life Global Celebration

Have you heard the news? The American Cancer Society is hosting a Relay For Life Global Celebration at the Mall of America on August 19th and 20th and YOU are invited to participate! 

If you are able to join in person, there will be many activities both Friday and Saturday afternoon including guest performers and art installations. If you aren't able to travel to Minneapolis for the celebration, we invite you to tune in to the live telecast on August 19th at 8pm EST. Details on how to join  the telecast can be found here.

At the event, there will be a three story art installation composed of stars from Relay participants across the globe. You can dedicate a star to someone who has fought or is battling cancer by following the link above. 

Not only is this a celebration of the progress we have made in the fight against cancer, but it is also a call to action to continue the fight. We hope you join us in this global kickoff for the 2017 Relay For Life season! 

Meet the NCLT: Hannah

Get to know Hannah! She is from Kimberly, Wisconsin and graduated from UW- Madison in May 2015 with a BS in Nursing. She is a second year member of the National Campus Leadership Team and is the chair of Suvivorship and Caregiver Engagement.

Where do you Relay and Why?

I Relay at UW- Madison's Relay For Life event. I Relay in memory of my dad who died from testicular cancer a month after I turned 5. He is and will continue to be my main reason to Relay, but as time goes on my list keeps growing. Today, that list includes my Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle, friend, and all of my patients (I currently work as an oncology nurse). 

What is your favorite Relay memory?

My Junior year, I was able to share my story during the Luminaria Ceremony. Most of my extended family was there that night, and after the ceremony ended, we all walked arm in arm around the track for the silent laps. It was so special to have their support that night, and to walk with them in my dad’s memory. 

Explain your role as Survivorship and Caregiver Engagement Chair on the NCLT.

As the Survivor and Caregiver Engagement Chair, I help provide strategy and direction to further Survivor and Caregiver recognition, engagement, and support through programs and activities at Relay For Life, and with CAC chapters throughout the year. 

What is your favorite memory from the NCLT?

Reuniting with my team this April to go to back to back Relays one weekend (my alma mater included) and to Virginia Tech two weeks later. It was amazing to be able to meet up with my Relay family to see some of the events we support, and to see how each campus makes their event unique. 

What is your guilty pleasure?

Spoonfuls of peanut butter!

What is your favorite Netflix show?

Suits... or pretty much anything from the USA Network.

What is your life motto?

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” - Bill Copeland

Connect with Hannah on Instagram and Facebook!


Campus FAQS: Road to Recovery

Last month we celebrated driver recruitment month, and we've all been hearing a lot about the American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program. Driving patients to treatment is an incredible, life-saving opportunity; but what's it really like? The National Campus Leadership Team did Q&A's with real college drivers to get you the low down on time management, qualifications, and how this program works.

Question 1: Why is Road to Recovery important?

Road To Recovery Facebook Timeline Cover.jpg

Even the best treatment can’t work if a patient can’t get there. Family and friends may be able to help, but over the course of several months, they may not have the time or financial means to provide every ride. That’s why a successful transportation assistance program can be a tremendous, potentially life-saving asset to the community.

Question 2: What will I get out of this?

First and foremost, the fulfillment of knowing that you made treatment possible for a patient who really needs it and have truly become their hero. But if that’s not enough, volunteering with Roads looks fantastic on a resume or grad school application. Hours spent assisting and talking to patients can count as clinical experience for anyone looking to go into healthcare-related fields, or as general community service/volunteer positions for students looking to make an extra impressive impression.

Question 3: I'm a busy college kid; how would I even fit this into my schedule?

Road to Recovery understands that life can be busy; that’s why it’s amazing that this program is so flexible! There is no minimum time commitment, so you can drive patients as frequently as you’d like, at your convenience. Make a quick trip to drop a patient off in between classes, on your day off, or during holiday breaks. Appointments are even separated into two distinct segments, pickup and drop-off, so you can split driving duties with another Road driver for appointments when you’re short on time.

Question 4: How do I know if I am qualified?

Do you have access to a vehicle, have insurance, and possess a valid driver’s license with a good driving record? Then YES, you’re all set to start training!

Question 5: How much training is involved?

It’s super easy. You’ll watch a 15-minute new driver orientation video, and then a 45-minute interactive online training module. You’ll also submit the information necessary for a preliminary background check. The entire process takes about an hour, and can be done in the comfort of your dorm room while eating ramen.

Question 6: How can I get connected with patients?

When you sign up to drive, you’ll build out your online volunteer profile. The profile will ask you to input time and location preferences, so the system will know when you’re free and how far you’re willing to drive. When a patient calls the American Cancer Society needing ride assistance, staff will match the ride request to a local driver’s profile that matches the availability criteria. The driver will receive a ride opportunity notification, which they are free to accept or decline on a case-by-case basis. If accepted, the driver will receive the patient’s contact information, and will reach out to them for an appointment confirmation a few days before the scheduled drive. After the drive is completed, the driver will indicate that the ride was fulfilled on their volunteer profile!

Question 7: How should I interact with patients? I'm nervous!

No need to be nervous! Every patient is different, but the Road to Recovery online orientation and training will walk you through how to handle a variety of situations. Most patients are extremely friendly and appreciative, and excited to meet you! If you’re nervous or uncomfortable, you can always bring a friend to ride along.

Question 8: What should I do while my patient is in their appointment?

Again, this may be different for every patient and what type of treatment they are receiving. An appointment may last anywhere from 20 minutes to a couple hours, and some patients may welcome you to keep them company during treatment. But the vast majority will give you a call or text when they’re ready to be picked up, so you can head home for lunch or study at the nearest Starbucks in the meantime!

Question 9: I think I'm really interested and ready to volunteer! How can I get started?

You can get started here!

Still have more questions? Leave us your comments below, contact the National Campus Leadership Team here, or email Kelly O'Donnel at odonkel@umich.edu.

Road to Recovery


Every day thousands of cancer patients need a ride to treatment, but some may not have a way to get there. The American Cancer Society Road to Recovery program provides transportation to and from treatment for people with cancer who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves. Volunteer drivers donate their time and the use of their cars so that patients can receive the life-saving treatments they need.

Sogol Ashrafian, UCLA

There are so many programs that are so wonderful. But I chose Road to Recovery because it was the one that I qualified the most for while at UCLA. You can do it on all different days of the week so it fits in your schedule. I really liked that because as a college student your classes are so scattered. I really liked that flexibility. That way I could continue doing work with the American Cancer Society while not having a huge time burden. I could sit at Starbucks and study for the three four hours that it would take for their appointment, all the while knowing that I’m helping someone who really needs that ride. My grandmother is an ovarian cancer survivor, and I always grew up knowing what the American Cancer Society was. I grew up hearing cancer a lot. Essentially I was drawn in because of my family history, but what keeps me going is it is a community that is so united in hope. Talking about how you are feeling, what you are going through. It’s a very, very empowering community. You really can’t find it anywhere else. It’s a very unique opportunity to have a direct contact with the people you wanna help. 

Kelly O'Donnel, University of Michigan

I’ve experienced cancer through the lens of many different relationships in my life. My cousin passed away at the age of 11 from brain cancer, as did my great aunt. Throughout my years in high school, 3 of my friends and classmates were diagnosed. It has become a reality to me that cancer doesn’t discriminate against anyone, across all walks of life, and that everyone deserves the chance to fight. I volunteer with Road to Recovery to enable patients to access treatment and have their fighting chance. It has been one of the most moving experiences I’ve ever had, to have patients share their stories with me and to become a part of their recovery story. The strength and appreciation of my patients and their families every time I complete a drive is incredible, and continues to give me hope that by lending a helping hand we can all work to create a world with more survivors and more birthdays.

Ready to sign up? You can now by clicking here!