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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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B-CS offers array of awareness initiatives


Amid the numerous national breast cancer campaigns, Texas A&M and Bryan-College Station promote awareness in Aggieland.
The Pink Alliance is a local breast cancer advocacy organization that promotes breast cancer awareness throughout the year.
“We provide reliable, informative resources to women and men who are diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Patricia Gerling, president of the Pink Alliance. “We inspire hope through individual and group support and we also offer access to medical treatments for those with limited means through financial assistance.”
In 2013, the organization served 124 women with approximately $55,000 in financial assistance from fundraising and donations. Gerling said one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer sometime in their life, and the Pink Alliance works to educate women in the Brazos Valley about the importance of early detection.
“When I was diagnosed in October of 2002, I walked out of the surgeon’s office after having heard, ‘You have breast cancer,’ with no information,” Gerling said. “I was kind of lost and didn’t know where to turn. And one of the really key points of what we want to do is we work with the American Cancer Society in distributing a portfolio of information so that once women are diagnosed, they have quality, informative resources that they can turn to as they start deciphering what breast cancer is, the type of treatment that will be part of their breast cancer journey.”
While it is uncommon for college-aged women or men to get breast cancer, Gerling said it is still important for people to be educated. The Pink Alliance hosts breast cancer support groups — one of the only groups in the community — that hosts meetings for breast cancer survivors and people undergoing treatment.
“Sometimes I feel as though people feel it may be a disease of older women and older adults, and that it happens in advanced stages of life, and I can tell you at the present time in our breast cancer support group we probably have five to eight women from the age of 32 to 40 who are going through breast cancer treatments,” Gerling said.
Throughout the year, the Pink Alliance receives support from organizations at Texas A&M, especially in October.
Casey Doyle, assistant director of marketing for A&M Athletics, said multiple A&M sports, including volleyball and basketball, partner with the Pink Alliance throughout the year for fundraising.
Excluding some campaign expenses, the funds collected from the fundraising games go into a BTHO Breast Cancer fund and to the Pink Alliance. Doyle said they hope to raise $20,000 through basketball games, of which at least $2,500 will be donated to the Pink Alliance.
Along with the funding, Doyle said the events are also a way to raise more awareness among students.
“One of our big target audiences — the people that we try to go after and get as fans — is students,” Doyle said. “So anytime that we can bring these types of topics up to the student body, I think it’s just a great opportunity for young people to gain more knowledge about what’s going on, how these things are affecting their community and what they can do to help.”
The next awareness fundraising game is Oct. 24 at the “Dig Pink” volleyball game. Attendees who wear pink will receive discount ticket prices. BTHO shirts will also be on sale.
Another organization on campus that participates in October awareness activities is sorority Zeta Tau Alpha, which sponsors a “Think Pink” week. Starting Monday, the sorority will host a different activity each day of the week to raise money for breast cancer awareness.
Alex Laduca, director of philanthropy, said the money raised from Think Pink week will go to Zeta’s national philanthropy unit, where it will be used to support breast cancer education and awareness. Laduca said the sorority set a fundraising target of $70,000 before expenses are offset.
Awareness, Gerling said, promotes and provides a human-interest perspective to the breast cancer issue by helping people become more comfortable talking about a sensitive topic.
“Women recognize the need and I think we reach out to other women that we know and we love, and we say, ‘It’s important to me. I want to make sure. Have you had your annual mammogram?’” Gerling said. “It’s that touch of love that allows you to talk about it and encourage women through that process.”
Photo by Tanner Garza.

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