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Committed Partners in a Community’s Fight: Adams County

The UW Carbone Cancer Center’s Cancer Health Disparities Initiative works to give everyone equal access to treatment.

Members of the Cancer Health Disparities Initiative

When Rebecca Linskens visited Adams County health officer Sarah Grosshuesch one day in late 2010, it sparked a long-lasting bond that helps Adams County residents to lead healthier lives.

Linskens, then a representative of the Cancer Health Disparities Initiative (CHDI) at UW–Madison’s Carbone Cancer Center, walked with Grosshuesch to meet the county’s director of aging, family-living educator, and officials at the local hospital. Through these face-to-face interchanges, the Adams County Cancer Awareness Team was born.

“They’ve stuck with us,” Grosshuesch says. “I hold up our relationship with CHDI as the gold standard for how large institutions work with small communities.”

The collaboration even won a 2017 Community-University Partnership Award from UW–Madison.

Research at the time when the team formed showed that the cancer death rate in Adams County was 25.3 percent higher than the state average. To reduce these deaths, the team aims to increase awareness of the disease, highlight prevention strategies, and help to support people who are dealing with cancer in this rural county.

“We are in it together to see our community be the best and healthiest it can be,” says Grosshuesch. “We decided that we were not just going to lie down and do nothing. The community is going in one direction together.”

“We are in it together to see our community be the best and healthiest it can be.”

Researchers regularly visit the county and were instrumental in helping to create an educational curriculum called Cancer Clear and Simple that helps residents to understand cancer and what they can do to prevent it. The program has since expanded to other rural communities.

From anti-smoking messages, to survivor panel discussions, to helping cancer patients identify resources and navigate the medical system, the team has carved out an important supportive role.

“People are talking about their health and cancer, which has developed community,” Grosshuesch says. “Cancer is scary. We’re building networks for people and talking about prevention.”

Thank you, Adams County, for volunteers who work with the University of Wisconsin–Madison and use knowledge and cooperation to take on the fear and confusion that surround cancer.

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