Recognizing the primary importance of representing the region’s diversity of voices, in 2003 regional leadership aggressively sought out and engaged broad representation from multiple groups across the twenty-six county rural/suburban in the heart of Georgia. Representing over 650,000 Central Georgians, the three-hundred-plus Central Georgia Cancer Coalition (CGCC) partners represent regional business, education, public health, civic organizations, faith institutions, private organization, physicians, health care providers, government officials, cancer survivors, and their families. They have all voluntarily come together with energy and commitment to lessen the devastating impact cancer has on every family in the heart of Georgia.
Operating through the organizational home of Community Health Works (CHW), the CGCC received designation as a Regional Program of Excellence (RPE) in 2004. The state of Georgia developed a very aggressive and ambitious comprehensive plan to address the cancer burden in our state. An integral part of the Georgia Cancer Control plan is the nationally recognized six regional cancer coalitions networking state-wide to bring cancer services to local areas. This innovative approach of bringing state-wide initiatives, research, outreach, services, and treatment to community grass roots level has set Georgia above every state in the fight against cancer. The six Regional Programs of Excellence were designated to work in concert, creating a continuum of comprehensive cancer care dedicated to fulfilling the Coalition’s goals while maximizing and leveraging public and private investments in this unique model across the entire state of Georgia.
Coalition is the strength of the CGCC.With continuing strong support from over three hundred dedicated coalition partners, CGCC has been able to initiate and sustain cancer fighting efforts to raise awareness, provide access, and improve screening rates that have improved the quality of life for cancer patients and their families in the region. The coalition supports health care professionals, hospitals, public health agencies, businesses, affiliate volunteer agencies, academic institutions, survivors, families, and the general community representing 650,000 people over a twenty-six county region in the heart of Georgia.
Partnering with The National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer, CGCC has been able to provide access to Prostate Cancer awareness and access to free community prostate cancer screenings for African American Men. The American Cancer Society, North Central Health District, Macy’s Department Store and CGCC have worked together to provide Breast and Cervical Cancer Education for African American Women. CGCC provides management of two Susan G. Komen Grants mammography screenings for uninsured women, and the GA Breast Cancer Tag Grant to extend mammography services to rural populations. As project coordination for the Tobacco Use Prevention Program, CGCC facilitates training of smoking cessation facilitators and supports Houston County Teen Health Forum for all eighth grade students. CGCC has provided the opportunity for two faculty from Georgia College and State University to become “certified” cancer recovery exercise and nutrition specialists who in turn are developing a class for exercise science students and community leaders in cancer recovery. Additional programs include the coordination of a media campaign raising awareness of colorectal cancer screenings, A Hispanic Family Health Day, A Cancer Summit for Pastors and Religious Leaders, and coordination of a Cancer Update for Georgia Family Practice Physicians.
CGCC has been actively involved in reviewing data and designing programs, education, and services meeting the specific needs of people in Central Georgia. As cancer is the leading cause of death for adults under the age of 80, lung cancer attributes to 30 percent of cancer deaths. Working with the American Cancer Society, CGCC has trained over thirty smoking cessation facilitators who are conducting classes those Central Georgians who want to live smoke-free. In addition, CGCC partnering with Houston Health Care, North Central Health District and several other partners hosted a Teen Health Forum for ALL 8th grade students in Houston County. The goal is to prevent the initiation of tobacco use. After completing a survey of 2100 students, as expected, it was learned that the older the student in 8th grade, the greater the likelihood of being a tobacco user. Also, it was learned that African American youth are using tobacco at a greater rate than their parents. Tobacco prevention efforts must be continued to make a difference in the cancer death rate in Georgia.
Support and operational funding is essential to providing this network of cancer care in Central Georgia. The strength of the program is the coalition that has been established. Working together fighting cancer will slowly win the war in Central Georgia.