American Cancer Society offers new training for volunteers

Monday, August 13, 2012 - 2:37pm

The American Cancer Society recently launched its Community Health Advisor Program in Central Louisiana and is now looking for volunteers.

The program aims to train local women and men who seek to improve the health of those in their communities. The ultimate goal is to have men and women in the area, who are traditionally in underserved communities, get the appropriate screenings for breast, cervical and colon cancers.

The CHA program works in communities that have lower than average cancer screening rates and higher than average percent of families in poverty. CHA volunteers will educate people on the ways to prevent cancer, and also point them to ways to get screened. CHAs will teach the community about how the American Cancer Society can help families affected by cancer. The CHA program will eventually be implemented throughout Central Louisiana, but is being rolled out first in Rapides, Natchitoches and Avoyelles Parishes.

The American Cancer Society Community Health Advisor Program is in partnership with The Rapides Foundation. Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation, said the Foundation was very interested in working with the American Cancer Society because of the organization’s expertise in setting up community networks and in training volunteers who are passionate about spreading the word about the importance of early detection of cancer through screenings.

“We hope community members will become trained to work as a CHA volunteer and be part of this important work,” Rosier said. “We know that in Central Louisiana our rates of death from cancer are high, and many times that is a result of not having cancer detected early enough to be effectively treated. The CHA role of educating people about the importance of cancer screenings is a critical element in saving lives.”

The Community Health Advisor program is always looking for volunteers to become CHAs, and for groups to support the program by being involved as a Community Network Partner. Each parish will have a volunteer training for persons interested in becoming a CHA. The Rapides Parish training will kick off on Saturday, August 25, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 500 Edgewood Drive in Pineville. For complete details on how to join this impactful program or to learn about the training dates being scheduled in Natchitoches and Avoyelles Parishes, please contact LaNeshia Gammage, Community Health Advisor Representative for Central Louisiana at (318) 308-9678.

More than 1.6 million new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2012. Sadly, more than 500,000 Americans will die from the disease. The good news is that almost 60 percent of cancers are preventable. In Louisiana, it is expected that more than 23,400 people will be diagnosed with cancer this year.

To help cut down on cancer incidence rates, the American Cancer Society uses the CHA program among others to specifically reach the populations most at risk for cancer. The program exists in Mobile, Ala.; Little Rock, Ark.; eastern Kentucky; New Orleans; Jackson, Miss. and Memphis, Tenn. 

The American Cancer Society saves lives and creates more birthdays by helping people stay well, by helping people get well, by finding cures and by fighting back. For more information, call (800) 227-2345 or visit  

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