Author: Katarina Hackel
February 9, 2017
My name is Katarina Hackel and I am the Dig Pink ambassador for the Joel Barlow girl’s volleyball team 2016. My experience with this organization started off the same as all of my peers: I was handed a form that read “Dig Pink”, I participated in the game, and that was that. Junior year however, things changed; my grandma was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It took exactly two months from when she was diagnosed for the cancer to take her away from my family and I.
Up until this point I didn’t fully understand the severity and relentlessness of it. It’s an insidious disease, taking anyone, healthy or unhealthy. This is when I knew I had to get involved. Although I had never personally been affected by breast cancer, I wanted to help make a difference in the cancer community, and Dig Pink was the perfect organization for that. I finally took action and became a part of my school’s Dig Pink team. Junior year I helped the ambassador with their work, doing small tasks to get the word out about our game. This year I was able to become the ambassador of Dig Pink for my team and made it my mission to raise as much money and awareness as possible.
Students can earn up to $3,500 in scholarships by leading student-athletes, coaches, and their school in a community service based program that raises funds and awareness for stage 4 breast cancer research.
For my educational hours I chose to watch two videos from cancercare.org. The videos I watched were entitled “Living With Metastatic Breast Cancer” and “Precision Medicine in Breast Cancer”. In both podcasts, I had the opportunity to listen to a multiple of very knowledgeable and informative people who were very passionate about breast cancer and the advancement in breast cancer research.
One thing that stood out to me while listening to the podcasts was the list of side effects to chemotherapy. All I had previously known about chemotherapy was that it caused hair loss. I learned that chemotherapy can cause numbness to the hands and feet, hand foot syndrome (redness and pain in the hands and feet), nausea, and constipation. Before embarking upon my educational hours, I didn’t know the extent of the process doctors and patients are willing to go in order to find a cure. Cancer patients are very strong people who do not allow cancer to overcome them without a fight. This just further substantiates why organizations such as Dig Pink are so important. They spread knowledge about breast cancer and also work to raise money for those affected in order to pay for more treatments and medicines necessary to find a cure.
I passed my knowledge on to others by scheduling two knowledgeable speakers to come in and speak to my volleyball team about breast cancer. The first speaker was Monika Nowak, a young nutritionist at my mom’s gym. I reached out to her because she had some interesting insight on how eating a healthy diet and keeping in shape can help prevent cancer. She also discussed with us how to eat and work out around one’s period to ensure that you are getting the most out of your workouts. In addition, I had another speaker come in, the nurse at my old elementary school, Cori Distler. She spoke to my team about how to do regular breast examinations in order to detect breast cancer early and ensure that it is treated promptly. The two speakers were a huge success with my team because everyone seemed super interested in what they were saying and asked tons of questions about breast cancer and cancer prevention in general.
This whole experience was very rewarding. As I previously stated, my grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a little over two years ago now. This cancer took her away from me only two months after being diagnosed, leaving my family and I no time to adapt and adjust to the changes we were faced with. Although I nor anyone I know has ever been directly affected by breast cancer, I believe that if we can find a cure to one cancer it would snowball and aid in the discovery for cures to other cancers in the future; thus why I found it so important to get involved with Dig Pink. By raising money and awareness for breast cancer I feel that I have done something to honor my grandma and all others affected by cancer. I believe that any little task someone can do to help those affected by cancer is important and will help the greater cause in finding a cure.