Major Cancer Study Enrollment at LJCC

By Lee J. Green

Since Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center has become known as a place focused on health and wellness, it is a fitting site as one of the locations for a major, nationwide American Cancer Society study.

To better understand ways to prevent cancer, the ACS is recruiting 300,000 adults across the U.S. and Puerto Rico for this research study. Cancer Prevention Study 3, or CPS-3, will help the ACS better understand the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer, as well as ultimately eliminate cancer as a major health concern.

Recruitment for the study will be at the LJCC on Aug. 23 from 7 to 11:30 a.m. in the Senior Lounge, and Aug. 28 from 3 to 7:30 p.m. in the Pizitz Auditorium. Registration for this study is ongoing at and

Previous cancer prevention studies since the 1950s (CPS-1 and CPS-II) have played a major role in understanding cancer prevention and risk, according to ACS Communications and Marketing Field Strategy Director Scarlet Thompson.

These studies were the first to show the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer; the first to show the significant impact of obesity on the risk of dying from cancer, and the first to show the link between aspirin use and a lower risk of colon cancer.

“The American Cancer Society has a long history of conducting long-term cancer prevention studies like CPS-3, dating back to the 1950s,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society. “Those previous studies have been instrumental in helping us identify some of the major cancer risk factors, like smoking and obesity. But the environment in which we live is constantly changing and evolving. CPS-3 holds the best hope of understanding new and emerging cancer risks. But we can only do that if members of the community are willing to become involved.”

Thompson said this current CPS-3 will be the most diverse and extensive study sample. “We’re bringing enrollment to more diverse places and really getting out there with this important initiative. The LJCC fits well with what we are doing and we appreciate their willingness to participate,” she said.

In New Orleans, there are seven locations for signing up for the study; the sessions will all be Sept. 11 to 16. The schedule can be found at

August sessions are available at 10 locations in south Alabama, there was an enrollment session in Laurel, Miss., in June, and Memorial Hospital Gulfport had recruitment sessions Aug. 7 and 8. More information is available at

The study is open to anyone between the ages of 30 and 65 who has never been diagnosed with cancer, not including basal or squamous cell skin cancer.

Participants are encouraged to sign up online for the study so ACS knows how many resources they need to devote to each date. At the enrollment event, participants will be asked to read and sign a consent form; complete a brief written survey, do a waist measurement and give a blood sample.

The other step takes place at one’s home, where participants will complete a more detailed survey. The survey will ask for information on lifestyle, behavioral and other health-related factors. Periodically, individuals will receive a survey at home to update that information, and annual newsletters.

“The updating is a real simple follow-up once every two or three years and we follow those in the study for 20 to 30 years in many cases,” said Thompson. She assured all participants that all of the information is kept confidential, only going to researchers, and those in the study will not get e-mails from ACS or anyone else asking for financial support of any kind.

Cancer survivor recommend healthy lifestyle, attitude, the J

Mary Thomas-Brewer, a cancer survivor and member of the LJCC, recommends an active, healthy lifestyle along with participation in this important ACS study.

The 51-year-old has been healthy and active all her life. “Cancer can happen to anyone unfortunately, but because I am in good shape and live a healthy lifestyle, my recovery was better and easier,” said Thomas-Brewer. “The LJCC is all about healthy minds, bodies and spirits. It certainly has been helpful being a member there, especially with my recovery.”

The year was 2008. Thomas-Brewer had experienced some stomach pains on and off for a few years prior, but a colonoscopy didn’t catch anything. She and her doctor attributed it to anxiety or adverse reactions to certain foods.

Meanwhile, she continued her training for running races and worked with a nutritionist to make sure she was eating the right foods. Then a couple months later, she had some bad back pain so she went to the doctor. It turns out she had a five-centimeter tumor on the tail of her pancreas that had caused an enlarged spleen. The diagnosis was islet cell cancer, also called pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor. Doctors removed her spleen and half of the pancreas.

Thomas-Brewer was a member of the YMCA, but some LJCC friends who were members encouraged her to do Ovarian Cycle in early 2009 as part of her recovery. She joined the J shortly thereafter.

Later in 2009 and 2010 new tumors were confirmed. She underwent seven months of chemotherapy and then had a couple of successful surgeries in the spring of 2011 to remove the tumors.

“I was out for four months — March through June. The LJCC supported my recovery, waiving my membership fee during that time,” she said. “It is like a family there and everyone has been so supportive.” Since returning, she is at the LJCC regularly taking group fitness classes (Betsy Belser’s spin class is her favorite) and working with personal trainer Susan Finley.