By Andrea McGowan, Side-Out ambassador
Joel Barlow High School, Redding, CT
I have always had an interest in the medical field. After watching my sister go to medical school, it heightened my interest in pursuing a medical career. For several years now, I have had the desire to become a pediatric oncologist, finding cancer an incredibly devastating, widespread disease. I want to help cure people.
When I was asked to continue a very thriving Dig Pink program that was passed down to me, I thought very little of the actual disease and simply thought about the idea of raising money for a good cause. After spending several hours listening to Dr. Patrice Gillotti and Michelle Bobbie speak to our team, I became even more encroached in the actual disease of cancer. Learning more about its cause, its symptoms and its prevention, I started realizing that this was something that I wanted to spend the rest of my life helping people combat.
Because I unfortunately don’t have all the tools to help people combat cancer at this age, I focused on sharing my new information with others.
First, I scheduled the appointment with my team, where 24 girls listened to Dr. Gillotti and Ms. Bobbie, who spoke and provided handouts for each girl. Dr. Gillotti provided information on the disease, including the importance of self-examination and certain risk factors. Ms. Bobbie, a trained health and nutrition coach focused on an anti-cancer diet, providing important information on avoiding carcinogenic foods. In addition, I provided my team with a breast cancer informational website hand-out so they could find more information and share it with their parents. This was also set out at our table in September during Open house (sharing it with teachers, students and parents) and our game on the 10th (sharing it with fans and parents alike).
The day of the event, seeing the entire gym, filled with pink, the pink baked goods, the donations boxes stuffed to the brim and the posters that surrounded the gym that were hung up in the hallway earlier in the day, it made it all worth it. Knowing that I could have saved a life—whether it be through education or money raised—is incredibly rewarding.
Everyone has some sort of relationship with cancer, specifically breast cancer. If you stand in a room of 100 people and ask them to stand up if they know a friend who has had breast cancer? Stand up if you know a family member with breast cancer? A co-worker? A neighbor? A friend of a friend? I am one hundred percent positive that the entire room will be standing by the end of this series of questions.
The degree of cancer’s prevalence is so far-reaching that it is almost impossible to find someone who has no relationship with breast cancer. Its widespread effect on the word is shocking.
Because of cancer’s widespread effect, I know that it was very easy for every team member to write his or her dig pink dedication for someone, to be read before we played on October 10th. My dedication included Anna Stewart, a family friend who lost her battle to breast cancer. She had an encouraging spirit, a desire for creativity and an open-minded attitude. Having that personal connection is exactly why it was easy to fight so fiercely for this cause.
This exposure through the Side-Out Foundation has taught me that regardless of your age, your background, or your character, you can fight for breast cancer and make a difference because it has such a prevalence in our world today.
Because I unfortunately don’t have all the tools to cure cancer at this age, it is comforting knowing that I raised $3,258.15 to go towards breast cancer research and prevention.
That being said, in my future should I decide to be a pediatric oncologist, I will put all of my heart and soul into finding a cure when I do research and clinical work.