Four-time cancer survivor urges others to sign up for cancer study (with video)

Four-time cancer survivor urges others to sign up for cancer study (with video)

August 8th, 2012 by Mariann Martin in News

Joel Henderson and his daughter Emma Grace, 8, play at the Imagination Station playground in Collegedale late Tuesday morning. Joel has been diagnosed with cancer four times and worries about being able to watch his daughter grow up.

Joel Henderson and his daughter Emma Grace, 8,...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.


• Open to anyone in the greater Chattanooga area, including Georgia and Alabama, between the ages of 30 and 65 who has never been diagnosed with cancer.

• Requires a long-term commitment.

• Participants schedule an appointment to enroll at various locations in the Chattanooga area Aug. 21-25.

• Before that date, participants fill out a comprehensive online survey that will take 45 to 60 minutes to complete.

• At the appointment, participants will sign a consent form, complete a brief survey, provide a waist circumference and give a small blood sample.

• The appointment will take about 20-30 minutes.

• After the initial enrollment, participants will complete mailed surveys sent out every few years.

• Information is confidential.

• Participants are not paid for enrolling or completing the study.


To make an appointment to enroll in the study or get more information, visit or call 1-888-604-5888.

POLL: Would you participate in a cancer study?

Joel Henderson remembers holding his 18-month-old daughter and wondering if he would live to see her next birthday.

Like any father, he wanted to see his daughter grow up, but he had just been told he had skin cancer above his heart -- a diagnosis doctors warned was life-threatening.

"You celebrate every birthday; you want to have that next day," Henderson said as he played with his now 8-year-old daughter, Emma Grace, at Imagination Station in Collegedale.

The two throw a Frisbee and play catch with a soft football, laugh together at the swings as her blond hair falls over her face.

Henderson, 42, has been diagnosed with cancer four times, including skin cancer and testicular cancer. As a teenager, he watched his grandfather die of the disease. Henderson's father, who is terminally ill with leukemia, was given only a few weeks to live this spring. His wife, Teri Henderson, has a father and brother who had the disease.

That's why the Collegedale couple is passionate about urging people in the Chattanooga area to sign up for an American Cancer Society study. Known as CPS-3, the study will track about half a million participants across the United States and Puerto Rico for at least 20 years. The goal is to have a diverse group of people from 37 geographic regions and with at least 25 percent ethnic minorities.

The American Cancer Society hopes to enroll about 1,000 people from the Chattanooga area. So far, less than 300 people have signed up.

"We want to get rid of this. We want her to grow up without worrying about getting cancer," said Teri Henderson, putting her arms around her daughter.

"With this study people can really make a difference," Joel Henderson said. "I know that Chattanoogans will step up and do this."

As a cancer survivor, he can't sign up for the study, but he serves on the local American Cancer Society board.

This is the society's third major study. Previous studies played a role in understanding cancer prevention and who is it risk, according to society officials. Those studies confirmed the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer and also provided information on links between weight, habits and environmental factors to cancer.

In the new study, researchers will compile information to understand better how lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors cause or prevent cancer.

"The goal is to identify and validate early markers for cancer," said JD Frattini, corporate systems director with the American Cancer Society in Nashville.

Eligible participants can schedule an appointment online to visit one of eight sites around the Chattanooga area between Aug. 21 and Aug. 25. Enrolling will take about 30 minutes and includes giving a small blood sample. Participants also will complete a survey packet at home and, afterward, will fill out a mailed survey every few years.

"You don't have to have a big wallet to help. You give yourself and your time. All you need is the commitment to help," Joel Henderson said.

The Hendersons hope the latest study will help determine unknown environmental causes of cancer. Both their families have always been active and health conscious, they said, yet they have had an unusually high number of family members affected by the disease.

Those environmental factors and daily habits are what Janice Baker, of Cleveland, hopes to help isolate. Baker, too, has heard the word "cancer" too many times; her mother is a cancer survivor and her grandmother died of breast cancer.

Baker, 55, has signed up to participate in CPS-3.

"By studying the habits I have now, maybe we will be able to find how to prevent cancer in the future," Baker said. "We hope that eventually we have to explain to children what cancer means, that no one will have cancer anymore."

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