Most area residents have been touched by cancer, either with a family member or friend affected by the disease.
Going through the challenges of battling cancer with a loved one can be extremely daunting, too, with high levels of stress and sadness often involved.
The strong community spirit we have in this region can help make the illness more bearable, though, with that community spirit perhaps best displayed during the annual Relay for Life event coordinated by the American Cancer Society.
For example, this past weekend the 17th annual Marquette County Relay for Life drew about 1,000 teams, a record number of participants for the event that was held at the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming.
Organizers said they expected to raise more than $100,000 during the event, which included a 24-hour walking relay. In addition, special events ranging from the placement of luminaries honoring cancer victims and survivors and team parades to music and activities and kids.
A special offering this year was a sign-up session for a major cancer prevention study being conducted in this area by the American Cancer Society.
The study, which area residents who didn't participate in the Relay for Life can still be a part of, involves persons from 30 to 65 years old. Participants can not have been diagnosed with cancer, except for basal or squamous cell skin cancer.
Participants fill out a brief survey, have body measurements taken and have blood drawn. Additional surveys will be send to study participants over the next 20 to 30 years, enabling the ACS to further study the causes of cancer and what seems to prevent it.
To find out more about the Relay for Life events or the cancer prevention study, log on to the ACS website at www.cancer.org.