HOPI Cancer Support Services hosts Climb the Mesa to Conquer Cancer

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. - The HOPI(Hopi Office of Prevention and Intervention) Cancer Support Services is a professional team that promotes cancer prevention and control. On Aug. 28, HOPI Cancer Support Services HCSS is presenting the Climb the Mesa to Conquer Cancer, a six mile run/walk from the Sunlight Mission turnoff and ending at the Hopi Cultural Center.

"The purpose of the walk is to provide the Hopi Cancer Assistance Fund," said Alfred Lomahquahu, a Lay Health Worker for HCSS. "All proceeds will benefit the fund, which helps people receiving cancer treatment with gas, food and lodging costs."

The assistance fund was established in 2005, born from a local cancer survivor's experience. A volunteer community advisory committee provides guidance to the program, which is a not-for-profit.

To obtain assistance from the Hopi Cancer Assistance Fund (HCAF), a request must be made three to five days in advance of cancer-related medical appointments. The amount provided is based on a fee schedule established by the HCAF committee. Recipients of funding must return receipts for gas, meals or lodging and verification of medical appointments and any remaining funds within 10 days.

HCSS assists with breast cancer screening for women over the age of 40 with Mobile On-Site Mammography of Northern Arizona Radiology. Cervical cancer screening is provided for women age 18 and older. Colorectal cancer screening services are provided through a program also known as "FIT at Fifty." Individuals over the age of 50 are encouraged to seek this assistance, which includes screening and an educational program.

The Hopi Tribe Tobacco Education and Prevention Program assists with education and prevention regarding the effects of tobacco use and related illness. Community education, including programs and printed materials are available to schools, villages and tribal programs.

Transportation is provided to clients for any appointments scheduled by HCSS.

During a recent "Men's Night Out" event held at the Hopi Veterans Center, many men received screening and education services provided by HCSS.

"This was a very successful event," Lomahquahu said. "We are getting the message out that testing is very important. Early detection makes the odds of recovery and survival much higher."

Many ask, "Exactly what is cancer?" Facts about cancer are provided through a power point presentation as part of HCSS's educational program.

"Cancer 101" reveals that any organism, including plants, can develop cancer, and that cancer cells are so tiny it takes a couple billion cancer cells to be detected.

"The term 'cancer' refers to more than 100 different diseases that begin in the cells...and develops when cells grow and form more cells without order or control," reads the presentation. Cancer develops when the normal balance between new cell growth and old cell death is disrupted.

Tumors can be either benign, (non-cancerous) and do not spread to other parts of the body and usually present no threat to life.

There are five main groups of cancer: carcinomas (skin or tissues that line the internal organs); sarcomas (starting in bone, fat, muscle, nerve and other deep skin tissues; lymphomas (lymph nodes or lymphoid tissues of the immune system; leukemias (white blood cells) or myelomas (plasma cells found in bone marrow).

There are many types of treatment, and many ways to prevent cancer, including maintaining healthy weight, a healthy diet, abstaining from smoking and alcohol, practicing safe sex and knowing your personal family history. An important prevention tool is regular cancer screening.

"Exercise is also an important part of cancer prevention," Lomahquahu said. "This event is an opportunity for participants to exercise."

Research has shown that the number of Hopi who survive cancer has risen steadily over since 1995. Education and screening is a part of the increase in success stories.

A network group including the HCSS is funded through Northern Arizona University and consists of volunteers from the community, and can be contacted for the Cancer 101 education, Professional Education on Cancer and the Climb the Mesa to Conquer Cancer event.

Sign in for the event begins at 5 a.m. and continues until 7 a.m. The "climb" will begin at 6 a.m.

Participants should park at the Hopi Cultural Center, where they will register for the event. An incentive will be given to each participant. Registrants will be shuttled to the starting point of the climb. Pre-registration entry fee is $12; entry fee on the day of the event is $15.

For more information, contact Gloria Lomahaftewa at HOPI Cancer Support Services at 928-734-1151 or 734-1152.

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