For senior Gymnaire captain Spencer Way, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is not merely a month of occasional, distant reminders of the presence of one of the many forms of cancer. It is a chance to fight back against the disease that nearly took one of his own loved ones.
“My family and I used to participate in breast cancer walks even before my mom had cancer,” said Way. “But after that, the awareness month has become a way for us and others to show our comradery for people dealing with breast cancer.”
On Sunday, October 27, Way, along with his fellow Union College Warrior athletes will join the Union College Nursing Club and the John Kerbs Society (PA students) for a breast cancer walk sponsored by Making Strides Against Breast Cancer at Homes Lake Park.
“Breast cancer gets a lot of attention because it affects everyone,” explained Nicole Orian, a nursing faculty at Union and a sponsor of the Nursing Club. “Faculty in our division, staff across campus and many students have all been affected by breast cancer.” As a student at Union, Orian took a class from Laura Karges, who was at the time receiving treatment for breast cancer. “I remember when she came to class and had a head shaving party so that she could control when that symptom [due to chemotherapy] happened to her,” recalled Orian. “Watching her walk through that journey helped me to understand better how it not only affects the person with the disease, but their family, work and other responsibilities.” Orian believes that the event will allow nursing students to practically relate to what they learn in the classroom and bring participants “face to face with the disease so they can see how it affects families.”
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2013 alone an estimated 232,340 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women, and 2,240 new cases in men. This is in addition to the approximate 1.2 million people currently living with breast cancer. The walk organized by Making Strides Against Breast Cancer will bring together family and friends of both survivors and those who have been recently diagnosed. Making Strides organizes a number of nationwide walks throughout breast cancer awareness month. As the walks display a united effort against the cancer, thousands of dollars have been raised to assist those diagnosed have smoother lives. Kelly Boyd, another nursing faculty and nursing club sponsor, believes that although the Union team may not raise the most money, having many participants from the school will help spread the news as to why “breast cancer awareness and early detection is very important.”
“Every single one of us knows someone with cancer,” said Coach Ron Dodds to the Union College men’s basketball team as he rallied the players to join the walk. Statistics show that one in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, with chances escalating with age. Dodds, a cancer survivor himself, knows the importance of community support in battling cancer and consequently called the event “one of the most important things [the basketball team] will do this year.” At the invitation from the Nursing Club, Warrior Athletics elected to be a part of the walk against breast cancer to show their solidarity with the cause and the victims of the disease.
As of October 21, 231 teams with 1,520 participants from Lincoln had raised $76, 488.08. “The more people who actively participate in supporting and promoting breast cancer awareness, the more money we can raise for treatment, research, and to help give back to women and families with limited resources as they go through treatment,” said Lindsey Martinsen, a senior nursing major and Union’s team leader. The Nursing Club had previously hosted a presentation on breast cancer on October 9 where two speakers provided information on how to detect breast cancer early and what should be done once breast cancer is detected.
Students as well as members of the Union community are encouraged to sign up in the dorms or online at the Making Strides website to participate. The 5K walk around Holmes Lake Park will be preceded by the team banner signing at the Division of Nursing at 11:30 a.m., and words from the events speaker at noon at the park. Although no donation is required to participate in the walk, contributions of as little as $1 go toward helping a breast cancer patient. Sign up to walk as well as donate at the Making Strides website under Union’s team name—Union College Fighting Breast Cancer.