When Pink Gets Personal

The numbers are scary. Every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Every 12 minutes another person dies from the disease. In the United States, some 2 million women have been diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. Those facts come courtesy of a Pink PBA-free bottle I bought this month, when all the stores are flush with pink products promoting breast cancer awareness. I even saw chicken feed in a pink-accented bag. I kid you not.

I have to admit, there have been times when I have been somewhat annoyed with all the pink. Not that I don’t think that breast cancer awareness is a worthy cause. I’ve just thought there have been equally worthy causes that don’t get such attention. Heart disease is a No. 1 killer. Obesity is taking a majority of us down one day at a time. Veterans go homeless. Countless children around the world die each year because they don’t have access to clean drinking water. These are all causes worthy of ribbons and colored products and all sorts of recognition.

My attitude has changed this October, though. On Thursday my mom underwent her first chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. She was diagnosed this summer, had a lumpectomy in September, and is aching today from a shot meant to stimulate white blood cell production. By next week she’ll start to lose her hair, and she’ll go to Upper Arlington to “shop” for a wig. Perhaps out of sympathy, but probably from my own selfish worries, I’ve been shedding hair like a long-haired Persian cat for a month now. What would I do without my mom? It’s not until you become a parent yourself that you truly realize how much your own mother loves you. I refuse to believe that my mother will succumb to this disease. And I thank god that she was proactive about her health–undergoing yearly mammograms that detected the out-of-control cells long before they would have ever been felt.

So this October I praise the work of the pink warriors. People like Stefanie Spielman who championed the causes while she valiantly fought the disease that would take her way too early. And her husband, Chris, OSU football legend and sports commentator, who continues this fight. To hear him speak is to hear a man with the deepest love for a woman. It is truly touching. He was the first person recognized as one of Stefanie’s Champions through the Stefanie Speilman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at the Ohio State University Medical Center, which has raised more than $7 million since 1999. For more information, visit: http://cancer.osu.edu/waystogive/about/funds/spielman/Pages/index.aspx

Today I’ll take my mom this pink water bottle and some homemade apple pie. It’s my little effort to be her champion. And if her story on a blog post can make one woman stop and think about getting a mammogram, well then I’ll be honored to be a pink warrior too.

Giving Back to the Community Part 1: Awareness Campaigns

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought now would be as good a time as any take a look at just a few of the ways OSU students give back to not only the area of Columbus, but also the nation as a whole. I plan on doing a series of three posts for the month of October about how OSU students give back to the community, the first of which, will discuss various awareness campaigns that have been around campus for at least two years.

There are numerous Breast Cancer Awareness events on OSU’s campus for the month of October. The Fisher Graduate Women in Business will be hosting a Passionately Pink Tailgate before the Homecoming football game vs. Purdue. All proceeds from the event will be donated to Breast Cancer Research funds. Last spring, OSU held a Breast Cancer Awareness walk in honor of the late Stefanie Spielman, wife of former OSU football player, Chris Spielman. Thousands of students and other members of the Columbus community came to event to help raise money for the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research. These are both great events that are always well attended by students, faculty/staff, alumni, and people from the Columbus area.

“Pinwheels for Prevention” is an initiative through the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital to raise awareness of Child Abuse in the Columbus Area. For the project, students and non-students can purchase pinwheels to place on the Oval and in other select areas around Columbus to represent an abused child. Having been a part of the campaign, it is really shocking to actually see the number of children that are abused each year.  The event has taken place in April for the past few years, as April is the official month of Child Abuse Awareness.

The “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” campaign is an international campaign led by men who are working to “put an end to rape, sexual assault, and gender violence.” Many fraternities around OSU Campus participate in this event, which has men walk one mile in high-heels, so men can think about what it is like to be a woman. This is a great event because I’ve seen men get really involved and it opens up discussion for how men can help protect women against these horrendous crimes.

This is by no means a complete list of all of the awareness campaigns at OSU, but just three of the major initiatives that take place on campus. These events just show how OSU students take their role as a big university seriously by using the massive number of students to their advantage. Ohio State students really do care about making their community a better place by holding these awareness campaigns. As Breast Cancer Awareness month continues, I think it is important for everyone to reflect on ways we can use the large number of students at OSU to help support and raise awareness for serious issues facing our nation.

Next week: Giving Back to the Community Part 2: Service Projects Around OSU Campus

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