South Mississippi Joins National Cancer Fight - - The News for South Mississippi

South Mississippi Joins National Cancer Fight

In the 26 years since Dr. John Kelly became a volunteer for the American Cancer Society, he's been everything from a door-to-door fundraiser to board member. His need to fight the disease is rooted in a family secret from his childhood.

"During that era cancer was one of those things you did not talk about publicly, " Kelly says. "It stems from my special relationship with my uncle that died of cancer and I didn't even know had cancer until I was an adult."

Soon Dr. Kelly will joins thousands of others to bring cancer awareness to national spotlight. Back in 2002, "Celebration on the Hill" brought people from around the country to Washington, D.C. to ask Congress for more funding. When the event takes place again September 19th and 20th, Dr. Kelly will make sure South Mississippi's voice is heard.

"So it has to be a message of hope," says Kelly. "One that tells our lawmakers what we're doing is working. The research community is working, but it should also be a message that we're still in a fight. It's a fight against a common enemy and that enemy is cancer. It has to be a message that we still need monies for research to help conquer this disease."

The American Cancer Society says it hopes the huge turnout of volunteers and cancer survivors will get our leaders' attention.

Spokesperson Hannah Silkman says, "This year one of our key topics will be to make our legislatures aware of the under-served populations who may not have insurance, who need annual mammograms and those annual cancer screenings as much as anyone else."

Dr. Kelly says when he gets to Washington, D.C., he'll think of his uncle and others who didn't survive cancer.

"I think that because of things like Celebration on the Hill people are starting to talk about the disease itself. It is no longer a closet disease," says Dr. Kelly. 

Ambassadors are chosen from every congressional district in the country. The American Cancer Society says Dewanda Platt of Lucedale and Lisa Williams of Leaksville will also represent Mississippi's Fourth District.

by Danielle Thomas

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