A common goal for improving quality of life for the next generation is picking up speed in the Westwind area. This week Alberta Health Services is in the Town of Raymond to facilitate testing for the
Tomorrow Project, Alberta’s largest cancer research study.
“It’s been fantastic,” said James Whitworth, Tomorrow Project coordinator of the response in Raymond this week. “We are fully booked. In fact we are even getting walk-ins as well. We are pretty much at full capacity, so it’s been a great success.”
As of May 21 Taber was in the lead with 195 participants, and Raymond closely nipping at their heels with 180. Cardston is in third place with 99 participants and Magrath bringing up the rear with 78.
A goal of 50,000 Albertan participants will contribute to the national goal of 300,000 Canadians overall. Currently Alberta is right around 35,000, with just under 15,000 participants to find, the competition is heating up.
“The study will be all across Canada once we combine our study with the sister studies in Ontario, BC, Quebec and the Maritimes as well. That will give us really strong data,” said Whitworth. “There’s power behind numbers, so with more people we have involved, there will be more diversity. We will reach different parts of not only the province, but the country as well and it will be a really well represented example.”
The Tomorrow Project itself started in 2001 ad is “going strong,” in their efforts to continue building and recruiting and “making the Tomorrow Project Family as big as possible.”
“I think a need was noticed and I think a few key people laid the groundwork to get it going and it exploded, really,” said Whitworth of the project’s beginning. “It’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that what we are doing might not matter immediately because we are doing research, but it takes a long time and a lot of people to get a result and even just the process of getting the papers published is really, really slow.”
This week’s event in Raymond isn’t showing any signs of the study slowing down in it’s success. Some appointments booked at the Ag Society’s Barn event have even drawn participants from Magrath and Taber as well.
“This has been a fantastic opportunity for us. We do have participants in the area from places like Magrath and Taber, however the people in Raymond have really come out for us, they have the most participants out of the four (towns),” said Whitworth, who added over 100 Raymond appointments were booked this week.
Although typically in smaller city centres, like Raymond, it’s hard to find as many willing participants, said Whitworth. But a “star ambassador” to the project has made finding contributors a little less daunting.
“Val Boehme has really helped us push the project forward in Raymond. He is the emphasis for us going there in the first place,” he explained. “We are really, really happy he has helped us with some of the events like the Chilly Willy Fun Run and the Dinner Dance, it’s all turned out fantastic, so a big thanks to Val.”
However in other places finding willing participants is getting harder and harder, even big city centres are being described as “tapped-out of a lot of the easy converts.”
“In certain places we have reached a turning point where it’s harder to find interested individuals, but we have had great success elsewhere like in Raymond and Magrath – we have done great down there,” he said. “Word of mouth is a really big thing for us, so often we will have one person come in and try to convince them that they should get all their friends and spouse and family to get involved – that’s been a big thing for us too, we have converted a lot of people that way.”
Currently AHS and the Tomorrow Project are in need of more male participants. Those who wish to register, or find out more about the project can contact AHS toll-free at 1-877-919-9292, or visit the website for registration and other information at http://www.in4tomorrow.ca