The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Health and Fitness

February 5, 2013

Daffodils offer tangible emblems of hope for cancer patients

— SELINSGROVE — It may be winter outside, but inside it’s all daffodils, all day long.

“Daffodil Days” season began in earnest Jan, 1, and various American Cancer Society chapters throughout the mid-Atlantic are preparing for the onslaught of orders of the sunny yellow flowers that have long been a symbol of optimism for cancer patients and their loved ones.

“They’re one of the first flowers of spring,” said Kim Kalinyak, an income development representative in the Selinsgrove chapter’s office. “It gives that kind of hope for spring and renewal, that’s how it came to be our little mascot.”

The single stem, retail sales won’t begin until March, but the cancer society is taking orders now on a few options including traditional bunches, a bunch in a vase, potted mini-daffodils and this year’s collectable “Ray O. Hope” Boyds Bear.

That’s what has Kalinyak and Dawn Spuesens, health initiative representative, busy these days.

“It’s been all hands on deck,” Kalinyak said. People can order any of these arrangements through the cancer society until Feb. 20. After that will be direct sales at places such as shopping centers and malls. Daffodil Week, the main event, is March 18-24.

People can brighten the day for pediatric cancer patients at Geisinger’s Janet Weis Children’s Hospital by sending them an anonymous Boyds Bear through the Project Care program.

Beside bringing some happy yellow cheer to a person or patient, the daffodils raise funds for cancer programs and research and spark cancer awareness, Spuesens said.

“Really, prevention and early detection is key, she said. “Two out of three patients survive cancer, and that’s with a survival rate of at least five years.”

In the Valley, Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties see the most cancer cases in prostate, lung, breast and colorectal. In Montour County, the top four are prostate, breast, lung and colorectal.

March also happens to be National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and the daffodils can remind people at risk to get themselves checked.

“It’s very important to know your family history,” Spuesens said. While the typical guideline is a colonoscopy one a year every year from age 50, those with a family history of polyps or this type of cancer should get the exam earlier.

About 60 percent of the funds raised go to local cancer programs, such as “Look Good ... Feel Better,” which helps chemotherapy patients with their appearance, and “Road to Recovery,” which provides patients with rides to and from treatment. The other 40 percent of funds goes to national research, Spuesens said.

And buying daffodils isn’t the only way to help the American Cancer Society. “We are desperate for volunteers,” Kalinyak said, needing the help to prepare orders and deliver them. Anyone willing to help should call the cancer society in Selinsgrove at (570) 743-7415.

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