Student organizations prep for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

GVL/Luke Holmes - Relay for Life was held in the fieldhouse arena Friday, April 8, 2016.

GVL/Luke Holmes – Relay for Life was held in the fieldhouse arena Friday, April 8, 2016.

Drew Schertzer

Grand Valley State University recognizes Breast Cancer Awareness Month in many unique ways, and student organizations are the front runners for events planned to raise funds for different charities.

This year, the month of October will be filled with a plethora of events, ranging from Greek life activities to Relay for Life. Some organizations like BRCAn’t Stop Me are focusing on awareness for the BRCA hereditary gene. Other organizations like Colleges Against Cancer will be focusing on honoring dog companions and caregivers of people who have had cancer treatment. Though they differ in method, each organization has a common goal to fight against cancer. 

“It’s super important to learn about hereditary cancer,” said Nicole Lyon, BRCAn’t Stop Me member. “Especially in October, people are focused on breast cancer and don’t think about the hereditary aspect of it.”

Lyon said people with the BRCA gene go from an eight-percent general risk of getting cancer to around an 80 percent chance. Lyon said BRCAn’t Stop Me focuses on shedding light on ways to avoid getting cancer. 

The BRCA gene is hereditary, meaning it is passed on through your parents. Lyon said exercise or lifestyle choices don’t affect whether you get the gene or not. What you can do, Lyon explained, is improve your surveillance. This means mammograms, breast MRIs or more extreme preventive actions like mastectomies. 

BRCAn’t Stop Me is the first GVSU organization to focus on the hereditary aspect of cancer. They will be teaming up with ChemoCare, another GVSU cancer awareness group, to co-host an event. The group’s mission is to bridge the gap between those who are sick in the hospital and those who are well enough to be in the community. They do this by educating people in the community about cancer through events like the one they will be co-hosting in October, “Pumpkin Painting for a Cure.”

This event will be held Wednesday, Oct. 25, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhof Center. Students can show up to paint pumpkins and decorate them. This event is designed to raise awareness for hereditary cancer like breast, ovarian, prostate and skin cancers. Lyon hopes her organization can spread its message through this event so more people will be informed and can fight against cancer.

Colleges Against Cancer is an organization that lends a voice for reason and compassion for anyone in the cancer community. Paige MacKinnon, president of Colleges Against Cancer, said her organization wants people going through cancer to know they aren’t alone. 

“Everyone has been affected in some way by cancer,” MacKinnon said. “We want people to know that they have access to information and support from us.” 

Colleges Against Cancer will be holding an event to bring people together called “Bark for Life.” This will take place Saturday, Oct. 7. Here, participants can view an array of booths set up by local businesses at the Grand Ravine Dog Park. People are encouraged to bring their dogs and can participate in events to benefit the American Cancer Society. Some of the events are tug of war, demonstrations and games with dogs. 

October will see many different GVSU organizations participating in cancer awareness. Though these organizations focus on separate parts of cancer, they all share a similar mission. To learn more information about GVSU events during October, visit