Students look beyond the pink

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Zeta Tau Alpha sisters Piper Garick and Sydney Steele serve Cold Stone ice cream to students at the "Cones for a Cure" event on Oct. 24 in the Eleanor Seattle Drawing Room.

Ariel Molinaro

The Delta Beta chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA), a part of the Greek Life community here at Florida Southern College, hosted their “Cones for a Cure” event on campus Oct. 24.  

 Throughout the semester, the organization plans a sequence of student-friendly events around campus to promote awareness and provide the opportunity for students to educate themselves about breast cancer.   

As part of their philanthropy week, the organization continues a 25-year tradition hosting numerous Think Pink® events on campus from their lemonade stands to the Crown Classic tournament.

Recognizing National Breast Cancer Awareness Month throughout October, the chapter handed out symbolic pink ribbons to students, also worn by ZTA sisters, to show their support of women, men and families fighting the disease.  More than 19 millions ribbons have been distributed through ZTA’s philanthropy work. 

As part of their Think Pink® Cones for the Cure event, the organization guided attendees through a series of educational games in which participants answered questions to test their general knowledge of breast cancer statistics. Afterwards, students got the opportunity to visit with friends and sisters while enjoying a scoop of Cold Stone Creamery ice cream donated to the event. 

 As the event continued throughout the evening, Zeta Tau Alpha welcomed guest speaker, Christine Barwick, to the center of the Eleanor Searle Drawing Room to share a piece of her personal battle with breast cancer and the advice she has for students here at FSC.

Barwick was diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer five years ago this October. Initially given 6-18 months to live after her diagnosis, Barwick continues to receive experimental treatment at Duke University. 

Despite long-term cancer treatment symptoms including chemotherapy-related cognitive impairment [commonly known as chemo-brain], bone fractures from marrow breakdown in her foot, and frequent exhaustion, the former teacher dedicates her time and energy to her children and speaker events like Cones for a Cure.  Barwick’s message encourages her audience to “look beyond the pink.”

“Forty-one thousand people are diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer every day.  Of those 41 thousand, 113 people will die,” Barwick said. 

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has spent 30 plus years raising awareness for the disease by focusing on early detection; now it’s time to take the next step. Despite current research and medicine, treatments like chemotherapy cannot save every life. Barwick advocates for beginning to build a bridge between the awareness of breast cancer and research and using resources to develop a cure for breast cancer.

Living with metastatic breast cancer has presented numerous challenges in life that Barwick never expected growing up. She offers invaluable advice through her personal experiences with Stage IV cancer. 

“Speak up for yourself and ALWAYS be your own advocate,” Barwick said.  “Don’t be afraid to ask a million questions. Don’t be afraid to fire your doctor. Ask and ask and ask until you get the answer you want. People take their cat to the vet and aren’t afraid to keep asking, insisting for an answer, but this is your own life, not your cat’s.”

Barwick spoke about more than cancer awareness, showcasing a handful of ways students themselves can make their own personal impact through donations and social media posts. If you choose to support the cause by making a donation through an organization, make sure to do your research to determine if the association is reputable before donating.

 METAvivor is a non-profit organization in which 100% of donations goes to funding MBC (Stage IV metastatic breast cancer) specific research grants. If you are looking for a foundation that funds all developmental stages of breast cancer, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, takes 90 cents of every dollar and donates it to fund breast cancer research and awareness programs that, “lead to new treatments, new methods of prevention and new insights into breast cancer.”  

For students, staff or alumni that wish to support breast cancer research but are not comfortable donating money online, they can use social media to showcase their  support.  This can be done by posting a selfie on a social media platform  such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and caption it “why you #KissThis4MBC” using the hashtag.  Up through Nov. 15, Novartis will donate $15 to Stage IV breast cancer research up to $200,000.  Additional recent social media hashtags that support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month include: #MoreforMBC or #ResearchIsTheReason, but the organizations funding these hashtags are no longer funding posts. 

If you missed out on Zeta Tau Alpha’s Think Pink® events in October, make sure to check out their organization’s page on Engage to view and RSVP to future events in support of their national philanthropy. 

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