Thigpen, 4th Grade Student, Westside Elementary School Westside Elementary School (WES) instructors are doing more than just teaching their students the basics of arts and crafts; they are inspiring students to have a purpose behind their paintings. When challenged with an assignment to produce a piece of artwork expressing compassion and support for cancer patients, 11-year-old Coston Thigpen immediately thought about his own personal connection to this disease. Coston’s grandmother is a survivor of breast cancer, and his great-grandmother passed away two years ago from the same disease. Inspired by a pointillism portrait he saw hanging in the hall of his school, Coston had no trouble coming up with a design for his painting. This, coupled with his mature understanding of cancer and how it affects families, led him to create a painting that he hopes will instill newfound strength in all who view it. “I am glad my nana has finished her chemotherapy and has survived breast cancer. That’s why I want to give hope to other people with this disease, so they can be survivors, too,” said Coston. Coston’s painting won the school-wide art contest and is now found hanging in the Pearlman Comprehensive Cancer Center on the campus of South Georgia Medical Center. South Georgia Medical Center and Westside Elementary School are each committed to helping the American Cancer Society (ACS) save lives through annually participating in Relay For Life activities. Both organizations believe ACS is fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. Bridgett Young, RN,BSN, OCN, Director of Cancer Services said, “It’s important that cancer patients find encouragement to help make it through their treatment processes, and it’s reassuring to know that we live in a community that cares about the well-being of those affected by this devastating disease.” With this in mind, the students of WES have raised more than $4,000 to give to Relay For Life and have set a goal to raise $5,000 by April. The students of WES have dedicated Coston’s painting to all those affected by cancer, including patients, loved ones and caregivers. The students want these individuals to know that they care about them and are praying for a cure to end all types of cancer. The Valdosta-Lowndes County chapter of the American Cancer Society will host its annual Relay for Life fundraiser on Friday, April 27 at 7pm at the Valdosta Middle School Track located at 110 Burton Street. Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. For more information on Relay For Life activities and how you can get involved, visit www.relayforlife.org.About the Pearlman Comprehensive Cancer Center:The Pearlman Cancer Center exceeds state and national averages for all core measures for breast, colon and rectal cancers established by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. 100 percent of the eligible Pearlman Cancer Center nursing staff is oncology certified. 42 years continuous accreditation from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons 18 years continuous accreditation from the American College of Radiology. 2012 Facts and Figures from the American Cancer Society: How Many New Cases Are Expected to Occur This Year?About 1,638,910 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2012. This estimate does not include carcinoma in situ (nonin¬vasive cancer) of any site except urinary bladder, and does not include basal and squamous cell skin cancers, which are not required to be reported to cancer registries. How Many People Are Expected to Die of Cancer This Year?In 2012, about 577,190 Americans are expected to die of cancer, more than 1,500 people a day. Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the US, exceeded only by heart disease, accounting for nearly 1 of every 4 deaths.