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Mitchell earns national volunteer award
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The American Cancer Society recognized Diane Mitchell of Rumford with the St. George National Award at a meeting in Washington, DC.
The St. George Award is the highest and most prestigious award to be bestowed upon an individual by the American Cancer Society and is presented to an outstanding volunteer in recognition of distinguished service to their community in support of the Society’s mission of saving lives from cancer.
Inspirational individuals receive this award on the basis of long years of service, and their dedicated work in areas such as fundraising, patient support, and advocacy. Since the award was conceived in 1949 by Dr. Charles S. Cameron, former Society medical and scientific director, the St. George National Award has been presented annually to Society volunteers nationwide who work to create a world with less cancer and more birthdays.
Diane is indeed, a true hero of the American Cancer Society and she has been a dedicated volunteer for over 16 years. It started when her sister-in-law, Linda, was diagnosed with breast cancer. When asked by a doctor, she and Linda both realized they had little knowledge of their family’s history with cancer.
A little bit of research resulted in a startling discovery – 20 family members had been lost to the disease. They have lost grandmothers, mothers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, and a niece at the age of four.
When Linda later lost her battle to cancer and raised that already astounding number to 21, Diane made a promise to Linda to do everything in her power to put an end to cancer, and to make sure their family members, friends and communities are aware of the signs and the early detections programs. And so began her mission to put an end to that long history.
As her first experience with the American Cancer Society, Diane participated in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, walking in memory of Linda. Wanting to do more, she learned about Relay For Life and started a successful Relay in her hometown.
Diane also saw the needs of cancer patients and their caregivers in Oxford County. She was instrumental in bringing the Society’s Road to Recovery and Reach to Recovery programs to the Rumford area by recruiting her neighbors as Reach volunteers while coordinating the Road program and volunteering as a driver.
In 2000, she learned about advocacy and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Like many volunteers, she had not fully realized the critical role that Congress played in funding cancer research and programs. She also had not fully understood the pivotal and influential role that individuals can play in influencing an elected official to support cancer issues.
She learned how simple it was to email a senator or congressman and ask them to support cancer research. She discovered she could visit her state lawmakers and ask them to take action on bills that support anti-tobacco programs. She saw first hand how legislators responded to her and her story.
In 2002 and 2006, Diane was a Celebration on the Hill Ambassador. She travelled to Washington, DC with thousands of other volunteers to meet with Maine’s elected officials, shared her story, and to asked them to make cancer a priority.
Make no mistake about it, Diane is not a doctor. She is not a lawyer. She holds no fancy degrees. This is actually her secret weapon. She is you. She is me. She is the woman next door. She is a cancer advocate who lives in small town in rural Maine who has lost more than her fair share to this insidious disease.
Why the passion? One husband, two children and six grandchildren.
Diane is doing all she can because as it stands now, she’s lost 35 family members to cancer-staggering losses and besides that, she made a promise she has to keep.
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year.
To learn more about you can become a volunteer or to learn more, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.
The American Cancer Society recognized Diane Mitchell of Rumford with the St. George National Award at a meeting in Washington, DC. The St. George Award is the highest and most prestigious award to be bestowed upon an individual by the American Cancer Society and is presented to an outstanding volunteer in recognition of distinguished service to their community in support of the Society’s mission of saving lives from cancer. From left are Molly Daniels, Vice President of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Diane Mitchell, John Sefferin, Ph.D., CEO of the American Cancer Society.