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Events educate on breast cancer

Kate Antonacci | Wednesday, October 13, 2004

With more and more young women being diagnosed with breast cancer, students at Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame are becoming actively involved in educating others – and themselves – about breast cancer.

According to the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Web site (NBCAM), “2004 marks 20 years of progress for NBCAM, educating women about breast cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment.”

Saint Mary’s hosted the annual Oktoberfest Oct. 7. This 2K walk and 5K run raised a record-high $2,400, nearly double the amount from last year.

“One thing that kind of happened because of the event is that we now formed a partnership with a group called Young Survivors,” Saint Mary’s athletic director and head of Oktoberfest Lynn Kachmarik said. “This is a kind of off-shoot group. It’s basically young survivors of breast cancer. I’m really excited about it.”

All the money raised from Oktoberfest now stays in South Bend or St. Joseph County, being put toward mammograms and cancer awareness education programs.

“It’s one thing when you raise millions of dollars to send nationally, but what you can donate to a local organization, like Young Survivors, it is more personal,” she said. “It just seems to be a natural partnership.”

Senior Nina Helman, who participated in the event, said she feels Saint Mary’s is the perfect place for such an event.

“As a women’s college, breast cancer is one of the most important issues to support,” said Helman.

Kachmarik said for many students who participated in the event, it was about more than just exercise or joining together as a community.

“This was a very personal event,” Kachmarik said. “Many women involved with this have a direct link to breast cancer.”

In addition to the money-raising event, Saint Mary’s is also using other outlets to reach students.

“The health and wellness department is doing drawings throughout the whole month of October. Basically, by putting your name in the drawing you are saying you will continue to do monthly breast exams,” Kachmarik said. “Saint Mary’s is doing a lot of smaller things on a more weekly basis.”

Many female dorms at Notre Dame have decided to take up the cause, by supplying pink breast cancer ribbons and hanging “Steps to Self-Breast Examination” in showers.

“I think they are taken for granted, but I think it’s a really effective way to reach all the girls on campus and make them aware. We all take showers and so they’re unavoidable,” sophomore Ashley Kelly said. “For many girls who won’t go to the gynecologist, it’s one of the only ways to be exposed to how to look for that sort of thing. It really is one of the only ways to become aware.”

National Mammography Day for 2004 is Oct. 15.