For as long as I’ve played volleyball, my team has done a Dig Pink game. We made signs, shirts, and hair ties. While we knew that it was for breast cancer awareness, we knew nothing about the Side-Out Foundation. This year, I decided to take a deeper look into the organization. What I learned made me value Dig Pink for more than just a pink game. I learned about Rick Dunetz’s story, and how he had to restore a team’s confidence while helping his mother with breast cancer. To support her, he decided to have his team play for breast cancer awareness that season. Their story inspired me to take action with my team, and to do more than just decorate the gym. I decided that this season we were going to do more.
My first step was picking a day. I went for our biggest game of the season in hopes of getting more support. I talked to my coach and the athletic director and they both agreed that game was the best day to do it. My family agreed to buy all of the varsity girls pink, tie-dye shirts as long as everyone donated at least $5 to Dig Pink. That was a great start, but there was still more work to do. I told the teams to spread the word about the game, and to tell people to bring money to donate. Naturally, we still decorated the gym, but instead of buying supplies, we got people to donate supplies. We made posters and hung streamers. We had flyers and brochures on early stage breast cancer and resources for people with breast cancer. On game day, people came wearing pink clothes and pink face paint. There was so much energy and enthusiasm for the cause.
What I learned made me value Dig Pink for more than just a pink game. I learned about Rick Dunetz’s story, and how he had to restore a team’s confidence while helping his mother with breast cancer. Their story inspired me to take action with my team, and to do more than just decorate the gym. I decided that this season we were going to do more.
Originally we set a goal of $100 but by adding different ways to give, we raised a lot more. We had an online funding page and spread the word to friends and families. We collected money at the door when we held our Dig Pink game and also hosted a school wide dollar dress down day. When all was said and done we raised over $400. DSST is a relatively small community, and most people don’t have much to give, but we were still able to pull together to create a change. It was great to see my team come together over such a great cause.
My knowledge about breast cancer has also grown through participating in Dig Pink. I took two CancerCare.org workshops; one on Early Stage Breast Cancer and another on Living with Metastatic Breast cancer. Early stage breast cancer is when the tumor is still in the breast tissue and hasn’t spread. I learned that it is important to treat early stage breast cancer aggressively to hopefully prevent it from spreading. In early stage breast cancer treatment includes surgery, either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and is usually followed up with radiation and/or chemotherapy. In metastatic breast cancer, the tumor has spread beyond the breast tissue to other parts of the body. I was surprised to learn that once the cancer has spread, it can be a different type of cancer and so it needs to be biopsied again. This helps make sure the most effective treatment can be started. In both early and metastatic breast cancer, working with a multi-disciplinary treatment team is important and the role of social support is big.
What I learned most of all is that you don’t have to be rich or famous and even a small school like ours can make a big difference. Maybe the brochure someone picked up as they came to our game leads them to see their doctor about a lump they had noticed. Maybe the enthusiasm during our game gave hope to a person in the bleacher who either has or knows someone who has breast cancer. I know one thing for sure. The experience has changed me and I’m excited to see what we can accomplish next year.