Nearly everyone has been touched by cancer in one way or another. The American Cancer Society is looking for people willing to help fight the disease.
You don't need to be a cancer survivor to have a passion to see the disease end.
"At age 37, my mom was diagnosed with stage two colorectal cancer and then at age 49 my dad was diagnosed with a stage four glioblastoma. And because of previous research in treatment and early detection, both of my parents are still alive today," Lisa Kopecky said.
When Kopecky learned a study aimed at preventing cancer was coming to Aberdeen and looking for participants, she was thrilled.
"When I heard about the study I said 'I want to be a part of prevention and that hope that goes along with hoping somebody doesn't have to hear those words 'you have cancer,’'" Kopecky said.
This is the American Cancer Society's third cancer prevention study. It will gather information from 300,000 participants nationwide to try and better understand lifestyle and genetic factors that can cause or prevent cancer.
It's looking for 500 participants in the Aberdeen area.
"We need a little more than 100 more volunteers," ACS volunteer Kim Schneider said.
According to an oncologist based in Aberdeen, information those volunteers provide could be very important to battling the disease.
"We've made a lot of advances in targeting cancers when they have occurred," Dr. Bongi Rudder said. "A study like this is really important because it focuses not on the event as it occurs but it's going to give us information as to what is happening before cancer has occurred in someone."
Dr. Rudder works at Sanford Aberdeen. That's one site where people can participate in the study which includes blood work and answering questions.
Avera St. Luke's Hospital is another site partnering with the American Cancer Society for this cause.
"At Avera St. Luke's we have done cancer treatments since probably the 1980s and there have been amazing advancements and there'll be more to come. But cancer has not gone away so we still need to do something to help stop the diagnosis in the first place," Patty Kirkpatrick said.
Participants can register online, fill out a survey and chose a time that would work to visit a participating site next week to complete the process.
The study is long term, meaning there's a survey to complete every couple years. Given her family history, Kopecky is happy to make that commitment.
"When I was a teenager and then again in my early 20s being faced with that and knowing so many cancers are hereditary or there's a family link,” Kopecky said, “that was very scary.”
“And I have found myself at a very early age looking at things I can do to help prevent or decrease my risk of developing those cancers."
This study is just one more way she's doing that. She's asking others throughout the Aberdeen area to join her.
Participants in this study need to be between 30 and 65 years old and need to have a cancer-free past themselves.