American Cancer Society celebrates 100 years

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The American Cancer Society, the official sponsor of birthdays, is celebrating its own.  For 100 years, the organization has been fighting cancer.  Probably known best for its relay for life, the ACS started in 1913 with a small group of 15 physicians and business leaders.  Today, it is one of the largest organizations of its kind.

The backbone of the nonprofit is volunteers like Patty Lamoine, who drives patients to their treatment through the Road to Recovery Program.

"It use to be that you didn't say "cancer," it was the C-word.  Now two out three people survive," said Lamoine. "I find that people share their story with me. They talk about their cancer. How it affected their lives, their concerns for the future. And, it was kind of an inspiration for me."

ACS-funded research has a lot to do with those higher survival rates.  Much of the money raised by the organization goes to labs like that of Dr. Hamid Boulares. Recently, his lab in New Orleans discovered a gene that plays a huge roll in colon health.

That gene plays apart in the life cycle of cells in the colon.  Boulares says if the gene is not present, the cells live too long which means they are at higher risk to form mutations which can become cancer.

"If that protein is low, we know what to do in designing treatment for those types of patients," said Boulares.

Of course, all the volunteering and research is done to help those suffering from cancer.  The ACS provides multiple services to patients, like survivor Stanley Washington, to help them through every step.

"We try to tell people, cancer touches every family, white black rick or poor. We all know somebody who cancer has affected," said Boulares.

This is why the ACS says it will continue its fight against cancer for as long as it takes.

"We're here, let's finish the race," said Washington.

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