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Lessons for Grades 9-12

Lesson 4: Organizing Against Cancer

Lead a class discussion about state and national plans for fighting cancer, as well as what an individual can do on the community level to organize a plan.

Students will research state plans in order to comprehend how “organizing” for change plays a role in the fight against cancer.

Worksheet 4 Organizing Against Cancer (PDF)


1. Explain to students that the fight against cancer happens on a larger-than-individual basis. State governments often have their own plans for fighting cancer. Ask students to develop a plan for their state to address cancer. Particularly, they need to propose how to prevent cancer, how to detect it, and how to treat people who have it. Create a four-column table on the chalkboard with the following headers: Prevent, Detect, Treat, and Survivorship. The “Survivorship” column will be used to address quality-of-life issues that will affect people after they’ve undergone cancer treatment. Record some of the students’ responses.

2. Once you have some ideas on the board, discuss how and why a state or national plan for fighting cancer would be more helpful than having no plan at all. Ask what areas in particular would benefit from this kind of organizing.

3. Instruct students to use the Internet to access the Web site for Cancer Control Planet Tell them that this is a collection of state-created cancer policies. As either homework or an in-class activity, have them choose a state, skim the document, and summarize the policy in a paragraph on Worksheet 4.

4. Next explain that "organizing" for change is not relegated only to the government. Tell students that every individual can organize a plan to fight cancer as well. Play the video "Giving Back" and then ask students to consider how Ruhan's cancer diagnosis and survival prompted her to take action. How has she impacted her community through her actions? Discuss whether or not students truly feel that individuals can make a difference. If time allows, discuss some of the great organizers of the past or present who have made a difference (e.g., Martin Luther King, Jr., Helen Keller, etc.).

5. There are many things an individual can do at the community level in the fight against cancer. Ask students to brainstorm for a few minutes and list some ideas. Possibilities can include anything from organizing a fitness program for preventing cancer to a simple awareness program to educate the community on early detection or support for local survivors. For assistance with talking to your students about getting involved and participating in the fight against cancer, download Get Involved today.

6. Instruct students to use Part 2 of Worksheet 4 to create a plan to defeat cancer. Suggest that students think about what kind of community organizing would most suit them and would be most effective before they begin writing.

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