American Cancer Society Seeks LGBT Participants for Major Study
By, Crystal A. Proxmire
In order to make their third wave of long-term cancer studies as inclusive as possible, the American Cancer Society has made Kristopher Keys their official LGBT Ambassador for the CPS-3 (Cancer Prevention Study) Study. The study is for people aged 30-65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer, and who are willing to take follow-up surveys for the next 20 or more years.
“Our goal is to get 25% of participants in minority categories,” Keys said. “The first study, done in the 50s didn’t ask about sexual orientation. And the second one, which was in the 70s, had very low numbers of LGBT participants. I stepped in this year to let everyone know that this study is available, and to help get better data about our community.”
The CPS-3 asks participants to answer some medical questions, have their waist measured and give a sample of blood. They also agree to answer questionnaires about their health and their habits every two years for at least the next 20. This helps The American Cancer Society research what types of behaviors and traits may predispose people to the disease.
Keys said there is no evidence linking homosexuality to cancer, but that it’s important that large-scale studies be representative of diverse groups of people. The CPS-3 will attempt to follow the lives of 500,000 people across the country. There are several opportunities to sign up, including Relay For Life of Detroit at Marygrove College on June 19, 2010 from 1-5 P.M. Other CPS-3 survey sites are at the Relays for Life in Barry County, Bay County, Bedford, Brandon/Ortonville, Brighton, Calhouhn County East, Grand Traverse County, Greater Port Huron, Holland & Zeeland, Lenawee County and Romeo. Already, more than 6,000 participants from 21 different events in Michigan and Indiana have enrolled. Unfortunately due to it’s proximity to the Detroit event, The Ferndale Relay for Life is not a CPS-3 location so Keys is working hard in the community to get people to sign up at the Detroit event even if they do not want to walk in the Relay.
The Metropolitan Community Church Team will be walking in the Royal Oak event. MCC team members Carmen Garcia and her partner Cheryl Klopman will be doing a separate fundraiser on May 2, 2010 at a lesbian-owned dog spa in Ferndale where they will wash dirty dogs in exchange for donations to The American Cancer Society. Klopman cannot participate in the CPS-3 because she is a lymphoma survivor.
“All of us on the team are dog lovers, and this our third year. The people from Bubble and Park are there to give us moral support ,” Garcia said. “Cheryl had lymphoma and it was fourth stage when they diagnosed it. It was really aggressive and she was a trooper. They told us it would be 20 weeks of treatment and it ended up taking two years of fighting.
“Two years of treatments had ups and downs. I understand the phrase “practicing medicine” means, because a lot of it trial and error. We are still learning and practicing,” Garcia said. “You can’t go back to normal but you adjust what it is you consider normal. All the treatments affect people differently. Cheryl has been in remission for 17 years, but still has residual effects from chemotherapy radiation. Her heart not as strong and we will never feel like we’re 30 again. She’s on this team and she really wants to try and walk the whole 24 hours, even though it will be physically hard for her.
“We both feel really lucky that all of the treatments worked. We know that it could have gone a lot differently. We walk because we are grateful and we walk because and we walk to remember the people that we have lost. I lost my friend to ovarian cancer and I remember her every day. People on the MCC team were helpful, and we all formed a support group. It was more support for me more than for Cheryl. The team is made up of men and women and all through MCC Detroit. We’re a lot of fun and going to have some surprises for people who come out to show support.”
American Cancer Society LGBT Ambassador Keys cannot participate in the CPS-3 either because at age 13 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma Stage 4. He has been in remission for ten years, yet has always fought the disease with his work in the community. “There is always a chance of it recurring,” Keys said. “No one in my family has had cancer. I don’t know why I got it.”
Several local LGBT hotspots have welcomed Keys’ efforts with open arms. Recognizing the link between smoking and lung cancer, Menjo’s has gone smoke free on Saturday nights, and a portion of the night’s door cost goes towards cancer research. They also allow Keys to speak on Tuesday nights about cancer and the upcoming study. “Tuesday night is Battle of the Sexes and I am always there,” Keys said. “Backstreet let us host an ACS Outburst, Rainbow Room is doing two drag shows with a portion of the money going to ACS, ReallyLoud.net and Club 9 are going to have an Outburst, and a lot of the local performers are helping. Entertainment-wise Sabin, Sir Walt, DeAngela Show Shannon, Ski Banz, Cheyenne Pepper and Tori Lynn are all out there helping me spread the word.”
In addition to recruiting for Relay for Life and the CPS-3, Keys tells people about the biggest cancer risk factors. “LGBT people have a tendency to go out. We like to smoke and eat. People need to know that smoking and obesity are related to cancer,” he said.
To find out more about Relay for Life and the CPS-3 Study, go to www.cancer.org.
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