The Cancer Survivors Network and UC Davis Colleges Against Cancer will hold the first cancer survivors panel in 194 Chemistry from 7 to 9 p.m.
There will be six to eight UC Davis student survivors on the panel as well as an American Cancer Society funded researcher and clinical social worker at the UCD Cancer Center, John Linder.
The event was inspired by UC Davis junior Brett Fontaine, a neurology, physiology and biology major, and senior Liz Creger, his UC Davis Cancer Survivors Network co-chair.
“We realized a lot of people have a lot of questions about cancer and want to talk to survivors, so we thought we’d organize this event for people who want to talk to survivors and have no way of doing so,” he said.
A cancer survivor himself, Fontaine fielded questions for the panel at last weekend’s Relay for Life event and will be on the panel tonight.
The definition of a survivor is varied and can be “anyone who’s been diagnosed with cancer and is still here with us,” said Andrea Stone, manager of youth programs at the American Cancer Society and the staff contact for Colleges Against Cancer.
“It is anyone who is still going through treatment and chemotherapy or [who is] in remission,” she said.
Junior English major Sarah Evingham is an active member of CAC and American Cancer Society volunteer.
“There will be an open panel where there will be questions,” she said. “We’ll introduce our stories and have a discussion. We don’t have a presentation about cancer. It’s really a chance for people to come and ask anything about cancer without fear of sounding dumb. It’s judgment-free.”
Evingham will be on the panel representing caregivers. With both her parents having had cancer and eventually becoming her mother’s sole caregiver, she hopes to use her knowledge to help others who may not have had cancer but who have been just as affected by it.
“When my parents were going through treatment, I felt like I was the only one going through this, and my friends didn’t know anyone [who had] gone through it, so it was hard for them to deal with it,” Evingham said.
“I want students who have dealt with it or who have been a caregiver or who are just curious to come, and put some rumors to rest,” she said.
Colleges Against Cancer works to raise cancer awareness, tobacco education and awareness and survivorship advocacy. They are also politically active with legislators about policies in the government that relate to cancer, such as lobbying for Proposition 86 in the 2006 California state elections, which would have allowed a higher tax on cigarettes that would provide funding for various health programs, children’s health coverage and tobacco-related programs.
The UC Davis Colleges Against Cancer chapter was established in 2003 and began their first annual Relay for Life event in 2004. Since 2004, the UC Davis Relay for Life event has raised over $655,000 according to Fontaine.
Stone has been working with UC Davis on many of their Colleges Against Cancer events such as Relay for Life and tonight’s panel.
“For two years now, the UC Davis CAC chapter was given Chapter of the Year out of over 320 chapters in the United States,” she said.
“They are looked to as the model to follow…. A lot has to do with the level of dedication and commitment and passion of the students.”
Those interested in joining the UC Davis Colleges Against Cancer can attend the next meeting Apr. 29 in 106 Wellman, and meetings will follow every other Tuesday accordingly. Students can also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the ucdcac.org.
“CAC have a lot of room to grow. I think a lot of people on the UCD campus know about Relay for Life but not about CAC, and I think this panel will hopefully expand our audience and get the message out there more,” Evingham said.
Fontaine echoes the hope that the panel will be informative to a wide audience.
“Half of all men and one third of women will develop cancer,” he said. “I want people to come away from this event to have a better understanding of cancer and be more prepared for when cancer will affect their lives. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”
WENDY WANG can be reached at email@example.com.