Shepherd University students and staff are opening their wallets to aid cancer awareness, research and prevention.
Shepherd University’s athletic department has so far raised more than $350 in its fall Rams-for-Mammograms campaign. The campaign, with a goal of $1,000, has already topped the weekend collections from last spring’s effort.
“Cancer is one of those things that affects everyone. I have lost two family members to cancer,” Aaron Ryan, assistant athletic director for external affairs, said.
In spring 2014 the athletics department raised $330 that was donated to University Healthcare, which operates the Jefferson Medical Center in Ranson and the Berkeley Medical Center, formerly City Hospital in Martinsburg, to buy mammograms for women who could not afford them.
“The female has to fall within certain criteria, for example being over 35 years of age,” Teresa McCabe, vice president of marketing and development with University Healthcare, said.
“With this [campaign] being a month long we could easily get $1,000,” Meghan Keelan, head women’s lacrosse coach, said.
The fundraiser is a collaboration between several of the teams including softball, lacrosse and football.
Games during the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness month, are called pink games. At these games, the public can buy a pink ribbon for $1 that will be posted in designated areas in the Butcher Center, Student Center and the Wellness Center, according to Keelan.
“We are just now starting to get more of the men’s teams involved in cancer awareness,” Ryan said.
Ryan noted that this is the first year the university athletic department has had a focused community awareness group that reads to children in the community and does fundraising, such as for cancer awareness.
“The football team will wear pink socks we got through Under Armour, the volleyball team uses a pink ball as well as the soccer team, I believe,” Ryan said.
“The cheerleaders are using pink pom-poms,” Keelan added.
“It is hard not to find someone that is affected by cancer one way or another. This fall it is hitting close to home for the Shepherd Rams,” Ryan said. “We just want to do our part to make it easier for those affected by it.”
Ryan added that prevention and catching cancer early is important.
Patt Welsh, administrative assistant with information technology services at Shepherd, is a 2006 breast cancer survivor and echoed Ryan’s words.
Welsh is active with the university’s Relay for Life projects.
“[Relay for Life] is extensive at Shepherd. The student body is wonderful,” Welsh said. Teams are already being formed for the April 10, 2015 Relay for Life event to be held on campus.
“Whatever I can do for others, I do. I am very involved in any area of cancer research,” Welsh said.
Welsh, an advocate for mammograms, encourages them for females under the age of 40.
Welsh’s cancer diagnosis came after a routine mammogram.
McCabe stated that the $60 mammogram for females are held on Saturdays during the months of May and October.
“Early detection is key. When breast cancer is detected early you [will] have a more successful treatment and recovery,” McCabe said.
University Healthcare has performed on average 250 – 300 mammograms yearly since the program began.
In 2014 it is estimated that there will be 232,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer in females with 40,000 breast cancer deaths, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.
The Foundation also estimated that 2,350 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be reported in men resulting in 430 deaths.
Warning signs of breast cancer, according to the foundation, include lumps, hardening or thickening of the breast, chest or underarm, change in size or shape of the breast, dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin around the breast, itchy, scaly sores around the nipple and/or rare nipple discharge.
Incidence of breast cancer is higher among white women, however mortality rate is higher among black females with the most deaths occurring in women aged 50 and older.
The Foundation reports that the two most common risk factors for breast cancer are being female and advancing age.
“Cancer can hit anyone. You must follow through with treatment. Educate yourself and never give up fighting,” Welsh said.