Breast cancer symposium informs students on disease

Cal State Fullerton’s Delta Sigma Theta Inc. Sorority Xi Lamda Chapter and Sistertalk hosted its annual Breast Cancer Symposium in the Women’s Center Wednesday night, Sept 22.

About 25 students filled the center’s discussion room for a presentation detailing the statistics, misconceptions and risk factors of breast cancer.

Ambrocia Lopez, Community Outreach and Education specialist from the Orange County affiliate of Susan G. Komen For the Cure, began the presentation with a brief overview of the Komen Organization.

Lopez struck a chord with students with an alarming statistic: one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime according to Komenoc.org.

This stark realization had more of an impact when Lopez illustrated the point by asking eight female students to stand and explained to them that based on the statistics, one of these women could develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

Throughout the presentation, several students raised their hands when asked if they knew any women who were affected by breast cancer.

For 22-year-old human services major, Tamara Adams, the affects of breast cancer were all too familiar.

“Three of my friends—their moms actually died of breast cancer, they found it late,” Adams said.

For Adams and many other students in attendance that night, the symposium helped dispel certain misconceptions about breast cancer. The most common being that if you don’t have a family history of breast cancer, then you won’t get it at all.

However, according to University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, 80 to 85 percent of women with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

Lopez addressed this issue throughout the night by reiterating at several points during the presentation.

“Cancer does not discriminate,” regardless of your socioeconomic status, race or occupation,” Lopez said.

Lopez urged students to take the time to talk to their doctors about prevention, risk factors and recommended administering of self-breast examinations on themselves for early detection.

“ (Self-breast examinations) could find a lump earlier, and early detection saves lives,” Lopez said. “If you do feel that lump and you go to your provider, it will save your life, because it could find early treatment for you.”

The Susan G. Komen For The Cure Organization recommends that every woman know her risks, get screened, know what is normal for her and make healthy lifestyle choices.

Lopez, who is also representing the Komen Organization, went on to further explain that it is especially important that women of color concern themselves with the issue of breast cancer.

“…As minorities we have a lot of cultural barriers that impede us from getting a mammogram…it could be the fact that there’s fear of knowing the disease…and cultural myths,” Lopez said.

Vice President of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. Xi Lambda Chapter, and CSUF alumna, Stacy Black said it’s important that her sorority puts on a symposium such as this not only because it is one of the sorority’s five point thrusts: Physical and Mental Health; but also, because “breast cancer is the No. 1 cause amongst African American women in general, but women period.”

Delta Sigma Theta Inc. Xi Lambda Chapter has been hosting the Beast Cancer Symposium since 1996.

Cancer facts and figures for African Americans 2009-2010 reports that breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death among African American women.

The CSUF grad also expressed that her sorority’s involvement in organizing the symposium is to help the CSUF community become aware of the causes, risks and prevention of the disease.

“We feel that as college educated women, it’s important for us to spread the word, spread the awareness, so that (Fullerton students) can go on and tell people in their community…and those who don’t have the same resources that we do,” Black said.

About Dominique Johnson