October awareness

Breast cancer awareness is highlighted during the month of October and at Temple tonight.

Throughout Main Campus, pink ribbons and T-shirts are worn proudly as the month of October progresses. The signs and posters of pink symbols displayed in residence halls and office buildings are not just for decoration. They represent something much more.

During the month of October, the nation unites to celebrate and acknowledge National Breast Cancer Awareness. The month is dedicated to supporting women living with breast cancer. It also promotes the understanding of the disease and the importance of early screening and prevention methods.

At Temple, the Main Campus Program Board has been very active in spreading breast cancer awareness.

On Oct. 12, the executive board organized the Strides for Breast Cancer walk and created boards, ordered pins and cards, made speeches and raised hundreds of dollars within a week.

“We write the names on the ribbons of people who have donated. It is open for anyone who has ever been touched by cancer. We want the school to see that it’s not just one person,” said Candace Moses, a junior sociology and African-American studies major.

The office of MCPB is completely covered in pink breast cancer ribbons with the names of professors, students, custodians and anyone who has donated to the cause.

“Our hope is by the end of the month to have the whole hall covered with ribbons and names. Breast cancer is a major issue and that’s our focus,” said Moses, who is the vice president of MCPB.

The Board is still raising money and usually has a table in the atrium of the Student Center and Johnson and Hardwick halls. The organization also collects money at its general meetings on Wednesdays at 5 p.m.

This month gives breast cancer survivors the opportunity to tell their stories and give advice to the public.

“I found a lump a year or so before I actually found out I had breast cancer. It wasn’t until age 41 that another doctor did a biopsy. That’s when I found out I actually did have cancer, and I was already at an advanced stage three. I was in shock,” said Anita Conner, a 10-year breast cancer survivor.

Conner’s treatments consisted of high dosages of chemotherapy, stem cell transplants, a radical mastectomy and 12 weeks of radiation followed by reconstructive surgery.

“It was hard because I was in and out of the hospital every month. The chemo was so strong that it just killed my immune system,” Conner said. “I didn’t sit around and mope in pity. I just kept on going because I had to live. I became closer to God.”

Breast Cancer is a disease that is found primarily in older women, but Dr. Kristen Berry, a cancer specialist, said there are rare cases when younger women have been diagnosed.

“Breast cancer is related to the female hormone estrogen. The more estrogen a woman has the more chance she has of developing breast cancer,” Berry said. “There is also an increased risk for women who go through menopause late, young girls who get their menstrual early, and women who have not had children yet.

“It can be a combination of being hereditary and how well you take care of yourself. Over indulgences of alcohol, high trans fat and saturated fat diets have also been linked to breast cancer.”

Throughout the month, there will be events in Philadelphia to promote breast cancer awareness.

On Oct. 23, the Fox Chase Cancer Center will give free mammograms to women at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ located at 6401 Ogontz Ave. The mammograms will be given between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. It hosted by the Praise is the Cure, a faith-based initiative that encourages African American women to get screenings for and treatment of breast cancer.

There will be massages, spa treatments, health screenings, motivational speakers and refreshments at the event.

Following the health screening will be the Gospel Music Extravaganza, which will raise money for breast cancer research and treatment. The admission fee is $25, and the concert is open to the public.
“God spared my life for a reason,” Conner said. “Now, I spend a lot of my time helping other women become educated about breast cancer and the importance of getting mammograms and early screenings.”

Taara Savage-El can be reached at taara.savage-el@temple.edu.

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