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

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

The Battalion

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Breast cancer luncheon honors survivors

Photo by Photo by Spencer Russo

ABC’s Amy Robach was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013.

Texas A&M University Health Science Center and the Pink Alliance, a nonprofit breast cancer awareness and support organization, held their 15th annual breast cancer awareness Surviving and Thriving Luncheon on Tuesday, kicking off national Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the Brazos Valley.
Dr. Carol L. Byington, dean of the Texas A&M College of Medicine, senior vice president of the Texas A&M University Health Science Center and vice chancellor for health services of the A&M University System, said it’s important for A&M to be part of an initiative that helps raise money for cancer awareness and also empowers survivors.
“Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among American women,” Byington said. “Texas A&M University Health Science Center is eager to support local breast health initiatives, further cancer awareness and serve breast cancer patients through low-cost mammograms.”
A&M and the Pink Alliance joined together to help with innovative research and prevention efforts through the Surviving and Thriving Luncheon.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, the Pink Alliance has worked with other local businesses in campaigning and fundraising events.
Patricia Gerling, Pink Alliance member, luncheon committee member and 15-year breast cancer survivor, said each year a breast cancer survivor is invited as a special guest for the luncheon to talk about their experiences with breast cancer and treatment.
This year’s special guest speaker is Amy Robach, news anchor for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” a breast cancer survivor and advocate.
“We are very excited to welcome [Robach] to Aggieland,” Gerling said. “In October of 2013, she was diagnosed with breast cancer after having her first mammogram, broadcast live in front of millions of viewers, on ‘Good Morning America.’”
The event brings together breast cancer survivors from around the Brazos Valley to share their stories and be in the company of women that have similar experiences.
“We have had sellout attendance the past two years with 800 plus people [coming to see the guest speakers] Joan Lunden and Kendra Scott and are nearing a capacity crowd this year,” Gerling said. “We are all passionate about breast cancer awareness.”
Over the past 14 years, Surviving and Thriving, working together with Pink Alliance, has raised more than $675,000 for breast cancer awareness, health initiatives and aid for recovering breast cancer patients within the Brazos Valley.
The proceeds from Surviving and Thriving have been able to support Pink Alliance’s Grant Initiative since 2015. The initiative provides financial support for women in the Brazos Valley who need mammograms, breast cancer equipment and support for women without health insurance. It also offers local breast cancer patients mammography screening events.
The funds raised by the Pink Alliance through the Surviving and Thriving Luncheon and other fundraising events throughout the year go directly back to local cancer centers, St. Joseph Cancer Center and the American Cancer Society of the Brazos Valley, to provide funding for awareness and recovery for breast cancer survivors.
Byington said that A&M is also assisting in these efforts by hosting their own women’s health program in the Brazos Valley.
“One example [of our research] can be seen in our Texas C-STEP Women’s Health Program, which has provided more than 1,300 free breast cancer screenings in rural, underserved areas of the Brazos Valley in the last three years, detecting 18 cases of breast cancer,” Byington said. “Finally, supporting initiatives that help the millions of people who are living with cancer and the millions more who will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime continues to be a top focus of our institution.”
Gerling said that the luncheon is predicted to sell out and also help Pink Alliance achieve their goal of bringing together and celebrating breast cancer survivors while continuing to raise money for the Pink Alliance efforts.
“The luncheon inspires cancer patients and survivors with hope, inspiration and Surviving and Thriving and also serves to enhance breast cancer awareness among our attendees,” Gerling said.

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