Zeta Tau Alpha sorority raises awareness for breast cancer
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 11, 2012 00:10
The waves of blistering heat washed over both the players on the field and the parents in the stands. Sweat poured off everyone, adding to the discomfort that few things besides watching a July softball game can bring. Both the children and their parents grew tired of wiping away the endless perspiration.
Marcy Downum, watching the display, wished she could wipe the sweat from her head, but to do so would require her to remove the wig that covered her chemo-induced bald scalp, and the accompanying whispers and glances of pity directed toward Marcy and her family were just not worth that.
Downum, a breast cancer survivor recently gone into remission, spoke on the SHSU campus Monday night at Zeta Tau Alpha’s (ZTA) “Speaking With Survivors” program.
Downum was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma in 2003 at the age of 36. After a six-year-long battle that included the cancer treatment, multiple surgeries and a serious infection, Downum was able to work on “getting [her] life back together after cancer,” until it was revealed in August that the cancer was back, this time in the opposite breast.
When Downum shared her story with those who attended the program, she emphasized how important early detection and awareness of the body are in order for the patients to have a good chance at survival.
“I am so very thankful that breast cancer has the awareness it does,” Downum said. “That awareness saved my life. Early detection is the key [to more survivors].”
Speaking With Survivors also featured licensed vocational nurse Frieda Turner, a nurse at the SHSU Student Health Center. Turner spoke to the audience about the medical facts of cancer and then went on to further explain Downum’s point that early detection and awareness are the best ways to catch breast cancer in its early stages.
“Most of the people who don’t survive breast cancer don’t catch it early enough,” Turner said. “The Health Center offers free exams and you can never start self-exams too young. Be aware of your body because awareness can save your life.”
Courtney Rothe, the Vice President of ZTA, detailed how the cause became the national philanthropy of ZTA, saying it was because “the issue touches so many women, including members of ZTA. We felt that it was something we could relate to and something that would bind us together in the common goal to help save lives and find a cure.”
The ZTA sorority is hosting breast cancer awareness events throughout the month of October. They “pinked out” the campus and Huntsville by tying pink ribbons everywhere as a means of drawing attention to breast cancer. They will be hosting a lip syncing contest on Oct. 24, the Nov. 3 football game will be a “pink out” game, and the Zetas will be selling shirts in the LSC Mall area every day from 12 to 4 p.m. for $10. All the proceeds will to the breast cancer cause.