by Ardie Arvidson
The American Cancer Society celebrated joining the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce on Monday at the chamber office.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held with chamber ambassadors and three members of the American Cancer Society: Chinel Boateng, Senior Community Development Manager for five counties, including Florence, Darlington, Dillon, Marlboro and Marion counties; Sundi Herring, Senior Manager Community Development/Southeast region/North Charleston; and Becky Eaddy, Program Manager, mission delivery/ Southeast region/Myrtle Beach.
The mission of the American Cancer Society is “to save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer.”
“Having cancer is hard,” Boateng said. “Finding help shouldn’t be.”
The American Cancer Society sponsors Relay for Life. The 26th Florence County Relay for Life will be from 1 to 10 p.m. on April 25 at Freedom Florence.
“Every survivor in Florence County is invited to participate,” Boateng said.
It is also for caregivers and family and friends. Everyone is welcome to join in the celebration, she said.
The Florence Relay was started in 1994. One of the originators was Kaye Floyd-Parris.
Boateng said she joined the chamber after discussing the benefits to the American Cancer Society with Jay Lavrinc, director of membership relations with the chamber.
She said the exposure in the community and getting information about the ACS out to chamber members will benefit them.
Boateng said she doesn’t have an advertising budget, and having that outreach will be beneficial to the organization.
“This will mean more folks to share the word,” she said.
Boateng doesn’t have an office in Florence. She works from her home at the beach.
Boateng started as a volunteer and team captain with Relay for Life. She said her mother, father and a sister died of cancer, and she has two brothers who are prostate cancer survivors.
When people asked her why she volunteered before becoming an ACS employee, she said, “The life I fight for could very well be my own.”
Herring has worked for ACS for 16 years.
“I think it is important to let folks know that we appreciate all the investment they has put into the American Cancer Society,” she said.
She works closely with the Hope Lodge in Charleston. She said it was the first one of its kind. There are now 33 across the country. These are places for cancer patients and family to stay free of charge while taking treatment.
“It was started in 1970,” Herring said. “This is its 50th year.”
She said it is completely free. The facility in Charleston has 18 rooms.
Eaddy said ACS needs volunteers, especially with the Road to Recovery program. Through this program the ACS provides free rides to cancer treatments.
“This is one of the biggest requests when people reach out to the American Cancer Society,” she said.
There is some good news about cancer.
There has been a 29 percent decline in the cancer death rate from 1991 to 2017, Herring said.
She said it is due to the investment of the communities and their support.
The largest single-year drop occurred from 2016-2017 at 2.2 percent, she said.
Every month except August and December, Boateng said, brings awareness to a specific cancer. There is a “colors of cancer” calendar with some months bringing awareness to more than one type of cancer. She said most people are aware of the “pink” for breast cancer awareness, but there are others that receive less exposure but are no less important.
Through their membership in the chamber of commerce, Boateng hopes to make more people aware of cancer. She said so many lives can be saved through early detection and screenings.
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