Since COVID-19, ACS struggles with research funding

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Dawn Rhodes, who serves as the local ACS community development manager, is concerned with the state of things involving American Cancer Society (ACS) amidst COVID-19. Still, she continues to work with the non profit as its new manager to instill hope in the lives of those who need help and suffer from the disease. Sadly, there is still no cure.

“When you think of that as a whole . . . fast forward where we’re at now. Because of COVID-19 pandemic, we’re going to have to cut 50 percent of our Cancer research this year, which is absolutely insane when you look at that.”

Donations have decreased, no doubt. Rhodes believes if people were more aware, or perhaps came to know someone affected by Cancer, it would likely help them look at the organization in a different light.

“We are in such an unprecedented time right now. I just don’t even know where it is going to lead next year. How are we going to back bounce from this? There’s hope. That is one word we utilize a lot in our organization-hope.”

While she’s never had a positive Cancer diagnosis, she said she can only imagine how a positive diagnosis can really disrupt someone’s life. She said there are so many questions to be answered; she said ACS offers a 1-800 number-(1-800-227-2345) for those, especially the newly diagnosed, seeking answers.

ACS also offers the Hope Lodge in Nashville where patients can stay while undergoing treatments nearby. Road to Recovery also helps with patients needing transportation.

“My biggest hope is that Bedford County knows that we’re here . . . options for them are available to them. This is the American Cancer Society . . . their Cancer society. We’re here to answer questions and help them navigate through this difficult time. But, we can’t do that without our volunteers.”

She said the organization celebrates and saves lives, but there’s more to the mission. “The last part of our mission is to rid the world of cancer. To me, that has stuck with me since I started this position.”

Despite COVID-19, people are still suffering with Cancer. She said right now, her mission is to gather leadership to help build “relevance in the community.” Through “Hope Shines in TN,” and other ACS programs, there are ways everyone-from corporations to individuals-can help support Cancer research.

Coming on board in March, Rhodes said she and everyone working with ACS had to go pretty much virtual. She said of any non profit, the ACS didn’t want to risk health.

Bedford County’s famous Relay for Life, she said, unfortunately won’t happen this year, due to the pandemic. Still, even in this gap year, there are “Days of Hope.”

Though a little bigger, Rhodes said a state initiative ran last month with a goal of teams-many of those already part of the ACS and Relay for Life family-to really shine on the light of subject of Cancer and to especially spread educational components as who ACS is as an organization.

“We are lighting the way to end cancer. That’s what this campaign is going to do.”

Rhodes said through this summer’s campaign, there was a hash tag available and the community could snap a picture of themselves with maybe a candle . . . their significant loved one they may have lost or a survival. Bedford County essentially just took its annual luminary ceremony-emotional at best-virtual. Rhodes said when the community sees, through such events, how many are together in the mission, it sheds literally a lot of light and hope on the need for Cancer research.

“There is always hope.”

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