Breast cancer group to foster education, support

A new club that aims to unite Yalies against breast cancer will join Relay for Life as another outlet through which students can learn about and fight the disease.

Founded by Annabel Chang ’08, Yalies Against Breast Cancer will have its first meeting next week. The club, which will operate under the umbrella of the Yale’s Women’s Center, hopes to cultivate an atmosphere in which students affected by breast cancer can talk and support each other. Other goals for the group include raising money, hosting guest speakers from the Yale School of Medicine and boosting overall awareness on campus.

“When I was in high school, a sophomore was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo chemotherapy,” Chang said. “I think that when people hear the words ‘breast cancer’ they don’t take it as seriously as they should.”

Nationally, about 70 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer each year are over 50 years old, according to a study by the Cleveland Clinic. But while statistics show that the disease is not a major threat for women between the ages of 18 and 22, members of Y-ABC said students are still affected by breast cancer through family and friends.

“While 18-to-22-year-olds don’t usually experience cancer until much later in life, why promote ignorance because of age?” club member Romy Drucker ’07 said. “We’re all at risk.”

Drucker said she witnessed a lack of youth participation in the fight against breast cancer when she and her and her roommate were among the youngest people at the Avon Walk last year.

“I remember thinking it would be great if there were more Yale people here,” Drucker said. “We were literally the youngest people in the walk.”

Chang also said breast cancer often affects men and that it should not be thought of as solely a woman’s disease.

“It is not impossible for men to get breast cancer,” Chang said. “It’s hereditary.”

Eric Sandberg-Zakian ’07, the coordinator of Men Against Rape and Sexual Violence, said that it is important for men to get involved in issues that seem to most directly affect women.

“A gender doesn’t need to own an issue,” Sandberg-Zakian said. “I have a mother, and I have a sister, and I care very deeply about them. If there’s an issue that affects them, be it sexual violence or breast cancer, that ought to motivate me to do something about it.”

Women’s Center Outreach Coordinator Adda Birnir ’07, who helped approve the Y-ABC club as a resident group of the center, said while the group deals with a very specific issue, she feels that it is quite relevant to all students.

“While few undergraduates will be personally diagnosed, a huge percent will eventually deal with breast cancer,” Birnir said.

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