On April 14 Minnesota State University, Mankato students put on their boxing gloves and fought back. Fought back against the what the Center for Disease control recognizes as the second largest cause of death, cancer.
Relay For Life is a family friendly, overnight event hosted by the American Cancer Society nationwide. The event took place in Meyers Field House starting at 6p.m. Friday, April 14 until 6a.m. on Sat., April 15.
The total of contributions from the 42 teams participating in the MSU, Mankato Relay For Life amounted to more than $25,000, surpassing last years giving. Those funds will be dispersed amongst various programs provided for cancer patients through the American Cancer Society. Participants raise funds through online donations, personal contributions and fundraisers.
As Pat Lueck, Colleges Against Cancer advisor says,
“[the funds are] an insurance policy; bringing cancer awareness to people getting checkups, looking for the signs and trying to stay as healthy as possible…these are funds that could save your life someday.”
As the night progressed and the dark fell upon the event, the Luminary Ceremony-a ceremony that honors those who have lost their battle with cancer, was addressed and luminary bags were lit.
Walkers walked the track in remembrance by placing their glow sticks in the Luminary bags that had been created prior to or during the event. The walkers were accompanied by the student cover band Neon and the Noble Gases. Throughout the past year Neon and the Noble Gases have entered the MSU campus scene with their win at Impacts Battle of the Bands.
“When the band started to play ‘Lights’ by Journey my heart became overwhelmed and I was inspired; inspired to continue my dedication in the fight against cancer.” said MSU sophomore, and Physical Therapy (P.T.) club member Hannah Walsh.
During the ceremony it is a tradition for speakers, ranging from those affected by cancer to those who have survived cancer, to give their story of hope.
This year a first time participant, Colleges Against Cancer member and survivor Jessica Munsch shared her story.
Only a sophomore in high school at the age of 15 years old, Jessica Munsch was faced life-changing news about something as to which some refer to it as “the silent killer.”
When Munsch was undergoing an emergency ultrasound she was introduced to what she calls a “big, round white mass” or technically known as an eight pound tumor that was sitting on her ovary. She was diagnosed with stage one ovarian cancer. Stage 1 suggests that the cancer is within the tumor only and has not spread to the outside.
Munsch, a dedicated student refused to have her operation the week that was recommended for her by Dr. Downs and his team in Minneapolis. Munsch was due to have a mechanical baby for a class and did not want to have any conflicts during her assignment.
When she returned to school after her operation she was confronted with allegations and the assumption that she had an abortion. It was a difficult concept for her peers to wrap their minds around, but her teachers were more than understanding.
“I always felt bloated, but I never seemed to lose my stomach.” said Munsch.
Ovarian cancer has similar symptoms as pregnancy:
- Having the urge to constantly urinate
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Lower back pain
- Tighter fitting clothes in the waist
Within the first five years of one’s operation to remove a cancer tumor the cancer is more prone to appear in the other ovary.
“People can see the scar when I’m walking around in a bathing suit and I can tell they are looking at it.” said Munsch.
As of December 15, 2011 Munsch has been cancer-free for 6 years. On her fifth anniversary of being cancer free, she got a tattoo that says live life with a teal ribbon. All cancers have a specific ribbon awareness color, and teal represents ovarian cancer.
Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) is an on-campus organization that strategically focuses their efforts on:
- Cancer Education
- Relay For Life
Brittani Felten, CAC committee chair says that it is important to her to raise awareness and spread education to students “because cancer does not discriminate.” Early detection and treatment are your best chances of beating this disease, and everyone deserves to know how they can go about that and the different resources they have for themselves and their loved ones.”
The Mankato chapter is one of the 300 participating active members nationwide with guidance from their local American Cancer Society office.
Lueck believes that at the university level everyone is so enthusiastic and the energy and willingness to help with anything helped make this year’s Relay For Life successful.
Here is a glimpse of some of the happenings that participants were able to experience at Relay For Life.
Made by: Abby Holst and Jessy Stanton
Connect with MSU, Mankato’s Colleges Against Cancer
Meetings are every Tuesday, 9p.m. in the Centennial Student Union (CSU) 201.