I am willing to make a wager today with every reader. I'll bet there is not a single person who reads this column who has not been touched by cancer. You may be a survivor, or have a survivor in your immediate family. You may have heard family tales of Uncle Henry who died of cancer years before you were born. You may have friends who are living through the rigors of cancer therapy right now, but everyone knows someone who has been touched by this disease.

I am currently facilitator of a class that describes an interesting model of proactivity. "Proactive" may seem to you to be one of those buzz words that is overworked, but I do believe the underlying premise is sound. Proactive people make things happen; reactive people spend most of their days reacting to what life throws their way. The class teaches a concept called "Circle of Concern" and "Circle of Influence" to illustrate this point.

One's Circle of Concern encompasses everything the person has an interest in, from world hunger to tomorrow's chores around the house. We tend to get bogged down in the enormity of things we seemingly must do and often experience the "deer in the headlights syndrome". We are so concerned about EVERYTHING we are unable to DO ANYTHING.

The other portion of the model represents our "Circle of Influence". Here is where the rubber meets the road. We choose to act on the things in this area of our lives because of their importance and value to us as an individual.

An opportunity is coming in September to make the fight against cancer move it into your Circle of Influence. Every 12 hours 17,000 Americans are diagnosed with cancer. I hope the next person who hears the diagnosis is no relation or friend of yours, but what if he is? The only answer I can find acceptable to this question is the total elimination of cancer as a threat to us all. I hope to hear my grandchildren speak of cancer as something "people used to have problems with in the old days".

Make the battle personal this year by participating in Relay for Life. This fund raiser for the American Cancer Society is something we can all do to make the cancer elimination dream a reality. Relay is a non-competitive, family-oriented event in which teams of 10 or more members representing various corporations, hospitals, churches, clubs, neighborhoods, etc. take turns walking or running around a track for 12 fun-packed hours. This year's event will be held at North Mississippi Medical Center's track in Tupelo beginning Friday, Sept. 5 at 6 p.m. and ending Saturday, Sept. 6 at 6 a.m. Special guests are cancer survivors who walk the first lap in celebration of hope. Find out more about how to participate in this unique event by calling 365-9132 or 844-6915.

Did I win my bet with you? This year, make the battle against cancer personal. Chances are it already is, anyway. See you at the track.

Beth Stone Frick, M.Ed., R.D., L.D., works in NMMC's Education Department as Education & Training Coordinator. She is publicity chairman for Relay for LIfe and has been a volunteer for the American Cancer Society for 11 years. North Mississippi Health Services is the corporate sponsor for Relay for Life '97.

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