published Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Jeanna Richelson pushes cancer awareness

After spending the past two days being honored for founding a support group for people living with oral, head and neck cancer, Jeanna Richelson meets today with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker to discuss the rare forms of cancer.

"I just want to tell about my journey with oral cancer and that there's not enough awareness," she said.

Richelson said there's still a lot of mystery behind the disease. Even people like her who don't smoke can be diagnosed with oral cancer.

She also said she'll emphasize that it takes doctors only three minutes to check for the disease. And she'll urge the senator to encourage free screenings for the cancer or to push doctors to include a screening in routine check-ups.

Richelson was invited to the capital as the Chattanooga-area Jefferson Award winner, an honor bestowed on unsung but committed community volunteers. She and the other 125 or so local winners from across the country competed for five Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Awards for service. She did not win, but Richelson said she didn't really expect to after hearing others' inspiring stories.

"Some of these people have been doing volunteer work for 30 years and giving back to their communities," she said.

She was especially touched by the story of another cancer survivor, one with leukemia, who knits quilts for people undergoing cancer treatment.

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