Supporting Pink Power this October
Published: Sunday, October 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
For the month of October, pink will be the color to wear on campus in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Founded in 1985, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) is an annual campaign facilitated by breast cancer charities to raise awareness and funds for research, as well as provide support for those who are diagnosed or have been affected by the disease. Breast cancer accounts for nearly one in three cancers diagnosed in women, and the lifetime risk for getting male breast cancer, which is very rare but still possible, is about one in 1,000, according to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) website.
The ACS is one of the most prominent organizations in the U.S. devoted to spreading awareness about breast cancer this month, and Boston College’s own Relay for Life members are committed to doing the same. Currently, almost 60 teams and about 275 participants have registered for Relay, and over $5,900 has been raised thus far. This year’s chairs of the Relay committee—Madison Aleksa, LSOE ’13; Karen Guarino, A&S ’13; and Casey Osgood, LSOE ’14—have already planned several events for the month, including last week’s bake sale in McElroy Commons and last Friday’s Pink Out Dance, which was held in the O’Connell House as a way to promote Relay for Life and share information about breast cancer. On Friday, Oct. 19, Relay also plans to host a barbeque in the Mods, where students will be able to sign up for a team as well as meet others involved in the organization, all while enjoying food and games such as cornhole and Kan Jam.
Osgood, who has been involved in Relay for Life for eight years, described plans for the month of October, as well as the goals for Relay leading up to the main event in February.
“We’re hoping to put on a documentary at the end of the month called The Breast Cancer Diaries,” she said. The film will show the experiences of Ann Murray Paige, a BC alum who was previously diagnosed with breast cancer. Paige will also be doing a one-woman show on Oct. 21 at Notre Dame Academy in Worcester, Mass. called “In the Pink,” in which she will focus on how individuals can support each other in the face of trauma.
Osgood hopes the documentary will conclude a successful month of informing BC students about breast cancer. “I think the biggest thing is trying to make people more aware of the things associated with breast cancer and to make people see just how many people are affected by it in general,” she said. To achieve this goal, Osgood and her fellow committee members plan to “paint the campus pink,” which will include pink decorations and posting facts around the Quad and O’Neill Plaza.
“We are already ahead of where we were last year in terms of teams and participants,” she added. “Last year we raised about $149,00 total, so our goal this year will be about $155,000.”
For Osgood, her own personal experiences with breast cancer have inspired her to become more involved in Relay in an effort to join the worldwide fight against cancer and become a resource for other students on campus who have felt the effects of cancer.
“The reason I got so involved in Relay in the first place was because of my Aunt Donna,” she said. Her aunt was diagnosed in 2001 with breast cancer in her lymph nodes, and fought a hard 9-year battle with the disease, going in and out of remission. At only 50 years old, she passed away, leaving behind a husband and three children.
“In a way it made our family stronger and brought us closer together,” Osgood said. Within a year of Donna’s passing, her own sister (and Osgood’s other aunt) was diagnosed with breast cancer as well, but it was detected early and she is now cancer-free.
During her senior year of high school, Osgood named her own Relay team after her aunt, called “Do It For Donna,” and raised $5,500. When she arrived at BC her freshman year, she continued her involvement by joining the Colleges Against Cancer committee, which works toward advocacy and spreading awareness of cancer on campus.
“I think [joining Relay] was a great thing for me because it taught me not only more about breast cancer but all the different kinds of cancer in general,” Osgood explained. “It was really inspiring to see how many people at BC had been affected by cancer in general and how many people wanted to do their part in making sure that cancer is no longer an issue in the future.”
Many students are encouraged to join Relay if they have been affected in any way by cancer, and those who have watched a loved one suffer from the disease may benefit from joining other students who can share their stories and provide support.
“I’m very interested in Relay—I’m hoping to join and help out,” said Kelsey Barnes, A&S ’14. Barnes, who performed at last year’s Relay for Life event with the BC Dance Ensemble, plans to become involved further in Relay this year due to her own personal experiences.
“My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was a freshman,” she said. After chemotherapy and radiation, Barnes’ mother is currently in remission, yet the effects of her struggle are still a strong presence in Barnes’ life.
“My mom was always working, a very strong woman, so to see her in a very vulnerable position … it’s hard,” Barnes said. “Looking back, I think everything happens for a reason, and my mom and I are super close now.”
After experiencing the impacts of breast cancer first-hand, Barnes and Osgood both have valuable advice for those facing similar challenges and for women who may be at risk.