Colleges Against Cancer may be best known for its Relay for Life event every spring, but the fight against cancer doesn‘t stop there.
The group strives to raise awareness, fundraise and provide support for those affected by cancer on the UC Davis campus and in the Davis community.
“People join CAC because they want to find a cure for the various forms of this disease and want to honor those who have battled it,“ said Ashley Stark, president of CAC.
The UC Davis chapter of CAC was founded in 2004 by three cancer survivors and an American Cancer society volunteer whose mother passed away from breast cancer. The founding members‘ goal was to increase cancer awareness – something they thought the campus was lacking at the time – as well as support young cancer survivors.
“People [join CAC] because they want to make a difference“ said Maria Ly, the cancer education co-chair in an e-mail. “They share our goals to do something to make them happen, rather than just give money.“
Many members such as Kristen Lohse, the Relay for Life co-chair, have personal experiences with cancer that have inspired them to join the club.
After her aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer Lohse became a team captain for Relay for Life.
“I had to fight back the best way I knew how,“ Lohse said in an e-mail. “For me that was Colleges Against Cancer and Relay for Life.“
This hands-on attitude is reflected by the many different events CAC hosts each year. Each month the club has a cancer awareness week where the club hosts events such as arranging for survivors to come to campus and speak of their battles.
CAC gets directly involved with cancer patients and survivors by putting together gift baskets for cancer patients at the UCD medical center and hosting “Survivors Night Out.“
The biggest event that the club organizes is the aforementioned Relay for Life, one of the American Cancer Society‘s most recognized fundraising events. Relay for Life involves teams of eight to 15 individuals spending 24 hours walking around the track to symbolize that cancer never sleeps and to raise awareness and funds for cancer research and to celebrate and remember cancer patients.
“We come together to fight, to raise awareness, and fundraise so that the future generations will never have to hear, ‘You have cancer,‘” Ly said.
CAC has been the Top California College Relay for four years in a row and has been the American Cancer Society‘s Chapter of the year since 2005.
“Our biggest accomplishment is helping and touching the lives of cancer survivors and loved ones of cancer survivors on campus and in the community,“ Ly said. “It‘s a great accomplishment when you can really help someone affected by cancer cope, regain strength and even inspire to fight back against cancer.“
Not only does the club host events but it also has been working to get legislation passed in Sacramento.
“We are currently involved in passing SB1420, the nutrition information on restaurant menus,“ Ly said.
The members of the club have branched out from cancer awareness and fundraising to support for those who survived cancer. A few years ago the Cancer Survivors Network was formed.
“It‘s a place where cancer survivors can feel comfortable and meet others who have gone through similar experiences and it gives them someone to talk to,“ Stark said.
In the upcoming year, Colleges Against Cancer aims to keep educating the campus about cancer and to reach out in a bigger way and get their name out in the campus community.
“We have many different outlets and resources that can be very beneficial to the UC Davis community and we want to make sure that students are able to get involved,“ said Stark.
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and true to their mission CAC is hosting a showing of the film Thank You for Smoking on Wednesday, Nov. 19 in 1006 Giedt at 7:30 p.m. to emphasize that most lung cancer is caused by tobacco use. CAC will also provide information on lung cancer, smoking and hookah at the event.
For more information on Relay for Life attend the Fall Kickoff event on today at 7 p.m. in 179 Chemistry.
For more information on CAC visit ucdcac.org.
KELLY KRAG-ARNOLD can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org