When a cancer diagnosis invades your family, it’s like someone has put a ticking time bomb on your doorstep.

It happens a lot. According to the American Cancer Society, men have a nearly 40-percent probability of developing some form of cancer in their lifetime. For women, the odds are slightly lower, at just more than 37 percent.

Cancers of the body’s respiratory system, particularly lung cancer, kill the most Americans, nearly 800,000 a year — which is about 800,000 good reasons to kick the smoking habit. Another big killer is colon and lower-digestive track cancers, which kill more than 268,000 Americans every year.

A cancer diagnosis can seem like a death sentence, but the fact is that most forms of cancer are treatable, with a high survival rate. And that’s where today’s Day of Hope comes into play.

Volunteers fanned out across the Central Coast early this morning, with a goal of both spreading awareness about cancer, and raising the funds needed to help cancer patients in local communities cope with their diagnosis.

This is the sixth year the Santa Maria Times, Lompoc Record and Santa Ynez Valley News have partnered with Mission Hope Cancer Center to host this critically important event, and we couldn’t be more pleased by the way North County residents have responded.

Those newspaper hawkers you see on street corners are selling special editions of today’s paper for only a dollar, with all the money going to Mission Hope Center, and buyers are supporting programs that help local cancer patients cope with the task facing them — getting healthy.

Our part in this is done happily. 

The first five Day of Hope campaigns have raised more than three-quarters of a million dollars, and if we achieve our goal with today’s event, that total will climb to almost $1 million.

As of late last week 47 teams had signed up to be today’s newspaper hawkers, and they had already amassed more than $130,000 in early campaigning. If only all fund-raising efforts were this successful.

We are hoping those team members will sell 14,100 copies of today’s special edition of the three papers, which were printed specifically for this campaign. Spanish-language editions will also be available at various distribution sites throughout the Santa Maria area.

There are a lot of reasons we joined up with Mission Hope for the Day of Hope effort. We are proud of our newspapers, and the push to make use of the news to better serve our community.

But the biggest reason, by far, is our understanding of the need to help those facing one of life’s most dire health issues, which so often requires life-or-death decisions.

Helping with such decisions is a strong suit for the folks at Mission Hope Cancer Center, which offers advanced, comprehensive cancer care and treatment for local residents and their families. The center features state-of-the-art technology and patient comfort, the overall goal being to provide the very best in cancer treatment without a need to travel to faraway clinics or hospitals.

An important element in that last paragraph is the involvement of family members of those with a cancer diagnosis, which is something no human should have to face alone. The Mission Hope Cancer Center has just such a mission, and it is a blessing for Central Coast cancer patients facing one of life’s toughest battles.

We’d say that’s worth shelling out a buck today to read about, wouldn’t you?

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