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Fighting Cancer Locally – Meet the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia

Apr 9, 2014 by Jessica Cone

Fighting Cancer Locally – Meet the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia
April 1, 2014 | Tifton, GA – It probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that South Georgia has some of the highest rates of cancer in the United States. Each year more than 3,500 people in South Georgia communities are diagnosed with cancer and more than 1,000 South Georgians die from cancer. Cancer is a major problem here, but there’s a local organization that’s doing something about it.

The Cancer Coalition of South Georgia was started in 2002 by the region’s four cancer centers (Tift Regional Medical Center, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital and South Georgia Medical Center) and numerous business, religious, academic and community leaders as well as public health departments and others. The emphasis on strong community partnerships has been a mainstay of the Coalition’s vision and mission since its beginning.

For the past twelve years, the Coalition has focused on bringing change to South Georgia through four programmatic areas. Providing services to the area’s underinsured and uninsured population is the cornerstone, with education, research and outreach initiatives forming the pillars of this community-driven organization. One example of its work is a unique program to address lack of access to cancer screenings. In 2007 the Community Cancer Screening Program was created and since that time it has been nationally recognized as a successful model for rural healthcare. Currently the program works by partnering with primary care clinics and hospitals across South Georgia and, using patient navigators, has provided cancer screenings for more than 3,000 local residents.

Why is the Cancer Coalition important? Coalition CEO Diane Fletcher shares what makes the organization different and effective. “Our vision is to be a national model of rural comprehensive cancer control, and our mission is to prevent cancer and increase survival among the people of South Georgia. That’s what sets us apart: we have a big vision but our mission always remains local.” Unlike national organizations which are often unable to target specific families or regions with their funds and resources, the Cancer Coalition works only in our 32 South Georgia counties and 100% of funds and resources remain locally to fight cancer.

“People are realizing more and more the value of keeping their dollars local,” said Fletcher. “We want our donors and volunteers to realize that every person they help is their neighbor.” That sense of community is what Fletcher and her staff say people around South Georgia are getting excited about. Melissa Goodin, Development Manager for the Coalition, said “Our work is only limited by funding and support. We welcome those who want to join us in fighting cancer locally. We are looking for volunteers, businesses and donors in South Georgia that would like to invest in the local cancer organization.” The Cancer Coalition is hosting a family and kid-friendly fundraising event, Play Day for HOPE, in Tifton on Saturday, May 17, 2014.

For more information about the event or the Cancer Coalition of South Georgia visit www.sgacancer.org.
If you or your business or civic group would like to support the Coalition’s work in and around Tifton, contact Melissa Goodin at melissa.goodin@sgacancer.org or call 229-312-1706.