GV takes stand against cancer, raises awareness

Rachel Cross

Breast cancer has proven to be the most common cancer in women, but Grand Valley State University’s Colleges Against Cancer is working to make sure awareness of the disease is equally prevalent, especially during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

With tables and pamphlets, the student group is taking a stand.

Courtney Miller, president of the Colleges Against Cancer club on campus, said her organization works with college students to spread awareness on ways of preventing cancer and maintaining health by taking the appropriate steps.

“Colleges Against Cancer does many different things for advocating cancer (awareness),” Miller said. “We do a lot of tabling (and) passing out pamphlets. We also work with the American Cancer Society who helps with tools that we need.”

The organization also participates in the whiteboard storm, which is when club members set up statistics and facts of cancer on different whiteboards in classrooms across campus. In addition, members may write upcoming cancer awareness events and activities going on at the university.

“The whiteboard storm helps to keep college students aware of what is going on at the Health Care Center and Women’s Center to help students on how and where they can get screenings,” Miller said.

She added that Colleges Against Cancer hosts many different events based on specific cancers every month. September was ovarian cancer awareness, and the organization did announcements about the importance of women getting Pap smears annually and going to the health center on campus. October is breast cancer awareness, and the club is currently involved in Win the Fight, tabling to raise awareness among college students.

Members of the club pass out pamphlets that contain information on how to find breast cancer early. This includes getting annual mammograms, clinical breast exams, as well as doing regular breast self-exams.

Miller said next month, on Nov. 15, Colleges Against Cancer will host the Great American Smoke Out. This event will promote awareness on the importance of quitting smoking.

“For the GASO, we can provide students with a quit kit, which consists of different tools to help people with the quitting process,” Miller said. “We also provide facts on quitting cold turkey, such as by contacting your physician for a quitting plan that works for the student.”

The Women’s Center also works with promoting cancer awareness at GVSU.

Jo Ann Wassenaar, associate director at the Women’s Center, said the center participates in raising awareness during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In addition, the center has hosted several programs on breast cancer. Some of these programs include individuals sharing their stories in fighting and surviving breast cancer, and this year’s program called the “Pink Ribbon Inc.”

“‘The Pink Ribbon Inc.’ is a Canadian documentary that explores the apparent corporate capture of breast cancer activism,” Wassenaar said. “This film also observes that such philanthropic organizations seem to place a higher priority on giving positive publicity to their corporate partners than on actually finding a cause and a cure for breast cancer.”

The film will be shown Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. in the Grand River Room located in the Kirkhof Center.

Wassenar said the center also offers programming on the Human Papilloma Virus during the month of January, and that high-risk HPV’s cause virtually all cervical cancers.

“The most rewarding part is when the Women’s Center educates and causes students to critically examine issues,” Wassenaar said. “Certainly by sharing information on breast cancer, students learn that young people can also get breast cancer, and can also receive support for family members that are fighting breast cancer.”

Heather Rhodes, office manager at the Health Center at GVSU, said the health center usually refers patients with or concerned about cancer to the oncology center at Metro Health’s main campus in Wyoming, Mich. She said there are programs for ages of different people that come in with a specific type of cancer.

For more information on cancer awareness and prevention, contact Colleges Against Cancer at [email protected] or the Women’s Center at 616-331-2748.

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