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Research project lands in Westlock

Westlock played host to an important cancer study last week when the Tomorrow Project set up its community study centre in the Westlock Inn on June 19-20.
Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec gets her strength tested at the Tomorrow Project cancer research study.
Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec gets her strength tested at the Tomorrow Project cancer research study.

Westlock played host to an important cancer study last week when the Tomorrow Project set up its community study centre in the Westlock Inn on June 19-20.

The purpose of setting up the centre in town was to help register more people in the project, said provincial coordinator Kathleen Murdoch.

By the middle of 2013, the study hopes to have registered at least 50,000 Albertans between the ages of 35-69 who have never been diagnosed with cancer, she added.

“We’re using that age range so we can track them for a longer time, and because that’s the range where they would often get cancer,” Murdoch said.

At the centre on Tuesday were Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Maureen Kubinec and Westlock mayor Bruce Lennon.

For Kubinec, it was the first time she had gone to a study centre to have her measurements taken, even though she is no stranger to the project in general.

“I’ve been participating in the study since 2007,” she said. “But that was only filling out the survey to let them know my lifestyle, diet and other things. To have them come out here to do the testing helps give a more accurate picture.”

Kubinec added she felt the study would benefit all Albertans because of how prevalent cancer is these days. To have much-needed research involve Westlock in such a direct way is a good thing that can only help.

“It’s great for health and I’m really pleased they came out to Westlock,” she said.

While Lennon was new to the project, he agreed with Kubinec about the advantages of bringing the testing centre out to places like Westlock.

“It’s good that they’re getting out of the cities and out into the rurals,” he said. “It will help provide a more accurate sample.”

Lennon also said he fully understands how much of a good cause the study is because just about every family has been touched by cancer in some way. Having the study in place to try to help those families and maybe find connections between lifestyle and cancer is a “big undertaking.”

Lennon’s involvement with the project was in part thanks to his stature as Westlock’s mayor, he said. “They wanted to get more high profile people out there to bring a bit more attention to the project, and I fit the criteria,” he said.

Murdoch said the community study centre was only spending two days in Westlock before moving to other communities in northern Alberta. There are permanent centres set up in Edmonton and Calgary, but travelling increases the project’s visibility, she said.

All those people who came out to the centre last week were required to fill out a questionnaire, provide blood and urine samples, and have various body measurements taken. Although not all the measurements taken have a known connection to cancer, Murdoch said the goal is to determine which ones might have that connection, and what it is.

Once finished in the centre, each person will be required to report to the study at regular intervals, keeping track of their lifestyles and any changes in their physical wellbeing, she said.





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