04/29/11 — 100-mile cancer walk starts Saturday

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100-mile cancer walk starts Saturday

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 29, 2011 1:46 PM

Dr. Jim Atkins is prepared to walk more than a mile in his cancer patients' shoes this weekend, if it means raising money that will benefit them.

Atkins, who opened Southeastern Medical Oncology Center in Goldsboro in 1990 and has gone on to offer the fourth-largest clinical trial research program in the state behind Duke University, University of North Carolina and Wake Forest University, has long expressed concern over cancer funding being funneled away from the community.

In 2010, SMOC parted ways with the American Cancer Society, citing dissatisfaction with the allocation of money.

A non-profit was recently established, www.southeastercancercare.org, raising money expressly for cancer patients and families in eastern North Carolina, he said.

"Cancer patients have a lot of needs, and most of the money that is raised for cancer care in eastern N.C. is sent to Washington and only about 1.6 percent comes back to help the people who have the cancer," he said, noting that through the non-profit organization, now, "One hundred percent of the money raised will be used for cancer patients in eastern North Carolina."

Through his practice, he has witnessed the devastating toll cancer takes on patients and families alike. In addition to the physical aspects, the financial pressures can be enormous, he said.

"Sometimes to cure cancer we need more research and we are committed to that," he said. "Sometimes you need a gas card, because they do not have the money to buy gas to get to the office to get therapy. They are trying to decide, do I buy gas or food?"

A fundraiser is being held this weekend to support the cause.

"Cures for the Colors" is a 100-mile walk/run. The 30-hour event starts Saturday at 9 a.m. from the vacant field across from Wayne Memorial Hospital.

The theme "Cures for the Colors" reflects the fact that each cancer has its own color - including pink for breast cancer, light blue for prostate cancer and dark blue for colon cancer.

The route is 19 laps -- a loop from Wayne Memorial Drive to Tommy's Road to Patetown Road to Wayne Country Day Road back to Wayne Memorial. The goal is to have people walking until they or their team have completed 100 miles.

"We expect about 250-plus people walking the 100-mile walk," he said. "Most will do the 5.26-mile loop but some will do more. I am going to try to do 100 miles. I look at it from the point of view that my patients have a hard journey and if they can walk that journey, the 100 miles is the least I can do for them."

Donations can be mailed to Southeastern Medical Oncology Center, 203 Cox Boulevard, Goldsboro, NC 27534.