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Cancer victims families urged to continue the fight
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Memorial plaques
Eleven names will be added to the Memorial Display at Effingham Hospital. Plaques for the following will be displayed in Effingham Hospital:

Erma M. Bird
Patrick Ryan Childers
Myrtice P.J. Dye
Del O. Edwards
Ellie L. Edwards
Kenneth L. Grizzard
Louis Lavaughn Jenkins
Cathy Clary Leaf
James W. Sheffield
Loreta M. Weitman
Jennifer Lewis Yarbrough

Connie Burns said she envisioned a time when such a memorial ceremony may not be necessary.

As Effingham American Cancer Society memorial chairperson Susan Exley begins her own confrontation with cancer, Burns, the ACS district legislative ambassador, recalled what sparked her to action with the ACS nine years ago — the loss of her mother to cancer.

“Nine years ago, I was sitting right where you are sitting,” she said to the family members gathered in the Board of Education auditorium for Sunday’s ceremony. “Now it takes a whole different meaning, because I’ve been where you’ve been.”

After her mother’s death, Burns wanted to do something to make a difference. “I felt I could be my mom’s voice,” she said.

That’s why she’s taken up advocacy and pushing for education. Burns, 39, has undergone a colonoscopy and doctors found a polyp. She wonders what might have happened if her mother had decided to be checked earlier.

“Most people don’t go in until they’re 50,” she said. If her mother had been tested sooner “maybe we would have found her cancer.”

Burns said she took great pleasure in the passing of what is known as “Michelle’s Law.” The law, named after Michelle Morse, a student who succumbed to cancer in 2005, enables full-time college students to take up to 12 months of leave from school and continue to receive health insurance if they are covered under their parents’ plan.

Morse had been a full-time student at New Hampshire’s Plymouth State University when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Doctors urged Morse to cut back on her course load because of her treatment, but doing so would mean losing her parents’ insurance or paying vastly higher premiums.

“Her medical insurance went up to $900 a month, where she had to drop it,” Burns aid. “Her mom said she was in the prime of her life and she was denied treatment. She was dropped from the insurance because she couldn’t take the full course load.”

Burns asked those in attendance to find some way to remember their loved one and to take the fight against cancer further. And it’s a fight where the numbers are starting to turn, she said.

Each day, 4,000 people are diagnosed with cancer and 1,500 people die each day from cancer, she said. But the survival rates are improving to such a level where more people are living with cancer than dying from it.

“Nine years ago, everything was gloom and doom,” Burns said. “Get involved and let’s win this. We can beat this and we can not have any more of these memorial services. I pray for that day to happen.”