Changing Lives

Author: Julie Matthews
March 7, 2013

Julie Matthews

Julie Matthews

Director of Content & Social Media at The Side-Out Foundation
Julie blogs about her personal experience with leukemia and life from a patient’s perspective.She also writes about Side-Out news and events.She is a race walker, a dog lover, and a dedicated explore.org #bearcam watcher.
Julie Matthews

Latest posts by Julie Matthews (see all)

by Madison Purnell
Adrian High School, Adrian, OR
Fall 2012

 

When I first began the process of organizing a “Dig Pink Event”, I simply thought it was going to be a fun night where everyone could get together and wear pink! It would also be a great way to raise money for an important cause. My mindset was completely wrong! As the process of planning and organizing continued, I realized I had underestimated the importance of the event. It was time to get serious. It was time I realized how meaningful I needed to make this event to my community.

After getting a firm date set for the Dig Pink event, I contacted the local hospital and asked about interviewing and observing in the breast cancer region of the hospital. After approval, I met with the nurses to determine which direction I wanted to go in learning about breast cancer. In my three hour visit, I was able to observe two mammograms as well as an ultrasound. I interviewed an oncology nurse about breast cancer detection, different types of breast cancer and treatments and about the support groups that were being set up through the hospital. Towards the end of my time, the nurse shared with me that she had battled breast cancer but is currently cancer free. It was extremely inspiring to meet a survivor who is so compassionate about helping others through something she had battled herself. The nurses at the hospital were extremely kind and gave me packets of information as well as phone numbers to call if I needed help organizing the Dig Pink event.

A fellow senior, and co-captain of the volleyball team, Chelsey, decided to organize a health fair. The fair included two mammogram buses. She asked if I would be willing to help. I readily agreed and was able to help the women of our community receive free mammograms. Through this event, three women in our community found out they had breast cancer, all in the earliest stage. Each called to personally thank those who helped organize the event. I did not realize that helping host the event could impact not only my life but many others as well.

“Through this event, three women in our community found out they had breast cancer, all in the earliest stage. Each called to personally thank those who helped organize the event.”

Two weeks later, the Dig Pink event took place. It was determined that the best night to host the event would be homecoming night when we would have the largest crowd and toughest game of the season. I contacted the opposing school, informing them of the event and I asked that they inform their community and wear pink.

On Thursday, I spoke to the entire high school, middle school, elementary school and community members on what I had learned about breast cancer. I talked about the event we would be holding the following night, what the funds would support, and I urged the women of my community to get mammograms.

The next day, with the help of my teammates and family members, I spent all day decorating the gym and the hallways leading into the gym. That night I gave a speech before the game, I shared statistics about how many women are affected with breast cancer annually, statistics about breast cancer survivors, and what the community could do to help the fight against breast cancer. I introduced a breast cancer survivor from our very own community who had agreed to talk about her battle. It was a very inspirational and moving speech that touched the hearts of everyone who attended. I was able to raise over $600 through the Dig Pink event!

Through organizing a Dig Pink event and participating in the Side-Out Ambassador Program, I not only increased my knowledge about breast cancer but I was able to share everything I learned with fellow students and community members. This program impacted my life by opening my eyes to the reality of the dangers and destruction of breast cancer.

Several community members told me about the impact it made on their lives and some told me that they were making an appointment to get a mammogram. After the game I had many women share with me that they were breast cancer survivors themselves and they were very thankful for the event. This entire process has inspired me to become a firm supporter of breast cancer awareness and I am honored to have been a part of the Side-Out Ambassador Program.

Comment


  • Marian

    What a great essay, Madison! I hope you continue to inspire and educate people!! 🙂


Advertisement