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Bereans Promote Breast Cancer Awareness

On October 13th, in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Campus Life and Berea College’s nursing department honored breast cancer survivors by hosting a dinner to promote awareness. Proceeds raised at the event were donated to Donna Lakes, an office manager within the nursing department who is currently battling breast cancer, and to the American Cancer Society. Carol Kirby, a professor of nursing and a survivor of breast cancer, spoke on behalf of her friend Lakes at the dinner.

With passion and courage, Professor Kirby described Lakes' ongoing battle with the disease, speaking of the numerous chemotherapy treatments she had endured and the crippling affect they have had on her body and immune system. Inflammatory breast cancer, Lakes’ diagnosis, is one of the most deadly forms of the disease. However, the survival rate has increased in recent years as more aggressive treatments are implemented into patient care. “She is fighting for her life and wants you to know that early awareness is paramount to diagnosing cancer in its earliest stages,” said Professor Kirby.

Speaking of her own battle with the disease, Kirby described her recovery. Following her diagnosis 2 years ago, she has undergone numerous biopsies to battle tumor growth. Looking at her odds of survival, she made the crucial decision to go forth with the removal of both breasts in a double mastectomy procedure, hoping to completely eradicate the cancer. Her cancer is now in remission. “I listened to my body,” said Kirby. “I made the decision that I would save myself in order to live for my children and my grandchildren.”

Although breast cancer is widely known for its impact on females, last year, 460 males also died of complications stemming from the disease. Most forms of the disease found in men were diagnosed at later stages. Despite the small percentage of men diagnosed, statistics state that 80% of reported breast cancer cases are in woman over age 50. Britney Crane, a junior nursing major, said, “It’s really important to raise awareness that people, men and women, need to be proactive.”

“It’s something that is not often discussed; the dinner is offering us a chance to hear from those who have survived the disease,” said Tianna Williams, a sophomore.

The dinner served as a learning experience for those in attendance as well as a way to honor those who have lost their lives to breast cancer, but most importantly, a way to spread awareness about the disease. “These are not just statistics; these are sisters, mothers, aunts and brothers. This is why it is necessary to educate others about the symptoms of the disease,” said Kirby.

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