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SMC honors cancer awareness

Angela Saoud | Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Saint Mary’s students, faculty and staff are honoring Breast Cancer Awareness month with events scheduled throughout October.

Linda Rakow, associate director of financial aid, made a quilt that is being raffled off to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research foundation. “Quilt for a Cure” was originally initiated by a woman whose mother was a breast cancer survivor.

Rakow began the quilt last spring, after a family member suffered a reoccurrence of breast cancer. She worked on it for several months and decided to donate it for the raffle.

The quilt, which fits a single bed, hangs behind the front desk in LeMans Hall. It is valued at $600. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5 and can be purchased at the LeMans Hall front desk. The quilt will be raffled off Oct. 31.

“It’s our hope that it’s reaching out beyond just our students, and that other members of the community are seeing it and donating, as well,” said LeMans Hall director Melissa Peters. “Our goal is to be able to donate more money than it cost to make the quilt.”

Peters, herself, was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer on Jan. 3, 2001. She was 27 years old.

“I’m the living proof that, although less than one percent of women under the age of 30 are diagnosed with breast cancer, it still can happen,” Peters said.

Since her diagnosis, Peters has taken an active role in promoting the prevention of breast cancer. She has participated in the Oktoberfest Run/Walk, Quilt for a Cure and various other fundraisers on Saint Mary’s campus. In addition, Peters, family members and friends have participated in the St. Louis Race for a Cure for the past three years.

“Every year, about 100 people show up for our team, the Peters’ Power Posse,” said Peters. “We wear our neon pink wigs and walk together. It’s just amazing to see all the people that turn out.”

This fall, several Saint Mary’s resident advisors participated in designing shorts to sell as a fundraiser for breast cancer research. They have already sold 350 pairs and are planning to place another order again soon.

The annual Saint Mary’s Oktoberfest Run/Walk to benefit breast cancer research was held Oct. 2. Over 175 people participated, raising $1,805. This year, local businesses donated products and gift certificates given away at the conclusion of the race.

“The feedback was very positive,” said Anna Welsh, softball coach and Oktoberfest organizer. “The raffles at the end were a nice addition for the participants who came out for the cause.”

“This was my first year organizing the event, and I plan on making it bigger and better for next year,” Welsh said.

Eighty-five percent of this year’s participants were students, a number of which participated on behalf of family members. Senior Rebekah Kistka was among them.

“My Aunt was just diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of September, and I think that made me more aware of events happening during Breast Cancer Awareness month,” said Kistka. “I think starting awareness young can never hurt. It’s good to be aware of your body so that if something changes, you’ll know.”

This Friday marks National Mammography Day, the next event as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Peters feels there is no better time to start promoting healthy habits.

“Team up with a friend and remind each other to do self-exams. Encourage mothers and friends over the age of 40 to get tested yearly. You need to be proactive while you’re young to prevent problems in the future,” Peters said.