With breast cancer becoming one of the leading killers of women in America, sorority alpha Kappa Delta Phi (aKDPhi) is celebrating and supporting October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) by selling bracelets, pins and their faces to help raise funds for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation and the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade.
Throughout the month of October, aKDPhi will have a booth set up with information and the bracelets and pins every Monday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the University Union (UU). Princess Rivera, a biomedical engineering sophomore said it is not only important to have people “recognize” her sorority, but also address the “major problem” of breast cancer and help to inform her peers about the illness’ dangers.
“I think (young women) should take more precautions, as well as men, because men can get (breast cancer) too,” Rivera said.
The sorority will not only be sharing information at its table, but also selling bracelets and pins.
In addition, according to the sorority’s website, it will host a “Bowl-4-The-Cure” night at Mustang Lanes on Oct. 20 from 8 to 10 p.m., which will cost $5 to play and for the shoe rentals.
aKDPhi also will hold the “Pie-a-KDPhi,” which will allow participants to make “a pie made of anything from whipped cream to fish sauce” and “smash” it in a sorority member’s face, in the UU Plaza on Oct. 14 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. It costs $5 for a pie and $2 for additional toppings. All of the proceeds from this messy fundraiser will go to the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade.
Andrea Kang, a journalism sophomore who is also a member of aKDPhi, said the fundraiser shows the sorority’s commitment to breast cancer awareness.
“We’re (mostly) selling our faces,” Kang said.
Although aKDPhi is taking a fun-loving approach to informing peers, breast cancer still remains a distinct problem in American society. The NBCAM website said “according to the American Cancer Society… an estimated 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women in the United States this year,” and “an estimated 40,170 women are expected to die from the disease in 2009 alone.”
Lisa Hughes, the Senior Director of policy and advocacy for the Prevent Cancer Foundation, one of the sponsors for NBCAM, felt that breast cancer is not a new issue; rather, it has been a long running one.
“(NBCAM) started 25 years ago when pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca brought non-profit organizations together to launch a campaign to raise awareness about breast cancer awareness and mammography,” Hughes said. “Prevent Cancer Foundation is also celebrating our 25th anniversary and became involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month very shortly thereafter. Breast cancer awareness and early detection has been a priority for us ever since.”
Hughes also said making an event of breast cancer awareness is important for women to address the dangers of cancer, especially for young women.
“Young women should know their family history for the disease and talk to their health care provider about practicing self exams and screening based on risk,” Hughes said. “Young women should also know their bodies and health history, know what is normal and talk to a health care provider if something is abnormal. Also, don’t use tobacco, eat healthy diets and exercise.”
Hughes said survivors are an important source of hope for both those struggling with the cancer and trying to avoid it by “bring(ing) visibility and awareness to the disease, the importance of screening and funding for research.”
“A survivor who has found her cancer early through screening can be an important catalyst for other women to get screened,” Hughes said. “Survivors who share stories of survival can be of significant support and inspiration for others undergoing treatment.”
Joy Simha, an executive committee member of another sponsor of NBCAM, the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC), said breast cancer is more “complex” than just selling bracelets and getting pied in the face.
“Simply put, breast cancer is not one disease,” Simha said. “We know, in fact, that it comes in many different types of cancers, and if you get the deadly kind, no means of early detection or awareness will make a difference in how you get treated and if you ultimately die of the disease.”
Simha said they knew these facts about breast cancer from the “data.”
“We know that the incidence of breast cancer has increased since we have become more aware and since we began recommending screening mammography,” Simha said. “We know that we are finding more earlier cancers, but the same amount of women are dying of the disease and we are not finding less later stage cancers.”
In an effort to find a cure for this disease, the NBCC has set a “deadline” for 2020. According to the NBCC’s deadline website, with accomplishments such as the discovery of the Polio vaccine happening in seven years and getting a man to land on the moon in “8 years, 1 month, and 26 days,” the NBCC said to find a cure is not “impossible.”
Simha, also, said the discovery of a cure in 10 years is attainable.
“No one has asked them to work together to accomplish a mission like we did when we wanted to get to the moon,” Simha said. “I believe if we put all the brightest minds to work on this goal, we will accomplish it.”
In addition, Simha said she did not like the way breast cancer awareness has been presented as “pretty and pink and spa-like.” Instead, she wants it to be addressed as “something more meaningful.”
“It’s more difficult work,” Simha said. “It does not feel good in the here and now, but it’s worth it if we make it happen.”
Hughes also said the search for a cure should be taken more seriously.
“The federal government needs to continue to fund cancer research, basic and clinical, at a high level,” Hughes said. “If our country continues to make a significant investment in understanding the cause of the disease and investing in new screening tolls and treatments, I hope that we will have made great progress over the next 10 years.”