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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cancer study begins with a really good stick

I have bad veins.

It’s been an ongoing problem since my early days of blood tests, long before I was old enough to donate blood.

I didn’t consider it a real problem until I attempted to donate platelets when a young girl at my church was undergoing cancer treatments, and I went downtown to undergo a process that involved tubes being placed in both arms for blood removal, separating and then return to me.

Over about a 10-minute period when that process started, veins on both arms blew out and they told me thanks, but no thanks, you can’t donate.

I returned to work the next day with bruises about the size of the top of a small coffee can in the crook of each arm.

The next day, it hurt to straighten my arms. It didn’t really matter, because there was no way I was going to straighten them, anyway.

It’s pretty much the same just about every time I get blood drawn or have an IV inserted, so of course I am a little nervous every time I submit to a blood sample.

Such was the case Wednesday morning when I showed up at the Lake County General Health District for my enrollment in Cancer Prevention Study 3.

I wore short sleeves, so access would be easy. When the attendant asked me which arm I wanted to use, I figured since the left was closer, we’d go with that one.

I sat back, and tightened my fist as she tied on the blue tourniquet.

“You don’t like this, do you?”

“Not at all,” I said.

“It’ll be just a little prick,” she said.

“As if!” I thought to myself.

The next thing I felt was a little brush up against my arm, and then heard a click as she snapped on the first purple vial to collect the blood.

“When my dad was undergoing cancer treatment, he’d call the good ones ‘a good stick,’ ” I said. “I’d say you’re a good stick.”

Of course, then I remembered that usually it takes awhile for bruises to form after my blood tests.
A few vial snaps later, I was on my way to the office.

About an hour later, I decided it was time to take off the cotton-ball-and-bandage combo the attendant had affixed.

I figured by that time, the bruise would be on its way to the reddish-purple phase.

Lo and behold, all I could see was a little red dot. I’m assuming that’s where the needle pierced my flesh.

It’s a little sore, though. But, I can’t complain.

I point all this out as a means of suggesting one last time that you, too, can join the American Cancer Society’s CPS3, which will be enrolling participants at three more sites in Lake County.

The study is a long-term look at participants’ lifestyles and activity levels. Previous studies of this type were CPS1, which first established the link between smoking and lung cancer; and CPS2, which tied lifestyle factors to a risk for cancer.

There’s obviously no risk with the blood draw, as evidenced by my arm, which is prone to disfiguring marks after any type of needle action.

Joining the study also requires filling out a survey. Easy-peasy!

If you’re interested, head over to Lake County YMCA’s Central Branch from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today; or to St. John Vianney from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday. Enrollments also will be done at the Relay for Life on July 13 at North High School in Eastlake. Those will take place from 12:30 to 4 p.m.
Twitter: @Lauranh


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