The “Save It or Shave It” campaign for Hyungmi Lim ’13, who has been battling ovarian cancer since August, will culminate Friday with a party called “Reading’s Weak,” held by the International Students Organization.
Lim, a student from South Korea on full financial aid, is juggling three classes, chemotherapy and an on-campus job at the Morse Buttery to pay for her medical expenses. To help her meet her financial costs, Liz Asai ’13 and Timothy Pham ’13, two of her friends in Morse, organized the campaign.
“Yale is amazing,” Lim said of the support she has received from other students. “Sophomore year is the best year to have chemo, if ever there was one.”
Pham and 17 other students have been carrying jars, one labeled “Save” and the other “Shave,” to collect donations. Depending on which jar contains the most money when they open them at the party Friday, participants will shave or save their hair.
The campaign has already gathered around $2,000, which is more than enough to cover Lim’s medical expenses. At the ISO party, which will be held in the Saybrook dining hall, there will be a suggested donation of $4 at the door. The event had 181 confirmed guests as of Thursday night.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Sajid Ghani ’13, a participant in the campaign. “A lot of us are donating money ourselves to ‘save’ our own hair.”
Timothy Pham ’13 said Yale alumni from Washington, California and even Korea have given to the campaign. Within two days of setting up a PayPal account, $600 had poured in, she said.
Vanessa Murphy ’12, social chair for ISO, said the “Reading’s Weak” party is intended to let people escape books and show their solidarity against cancer.
“What better way to celebrate the end of class than by dancing the night away for a good cause?” Murphy said.
Most of Lim’s health care, including the chemo and vaccines that account for roughly 80 percent of her expenses, is covered by the Yale Health Plan, but she still needs to pay $200 per month for other prescription medicines, she said. She added that she cannot afford to pay for all of her treatments without Yale’s help, and cannot remain under YHP coverage if she is not enrolled in the college.
Hyungmi held three on-campus jobs last year, but is unable to work as much now due to her illness, she said. Each cycle of chemo lasts two weeks, one of which she spends in bed.
Lim said she meets with her dean Joel Silverman once a week to talk about how she is doing. He has helped her explain her situation to her professors, she said. To help her stay abreast of her classes, her professors have been helping her during office hours, she said.
Lim must stay at Yale for treatment for the entire length of Christmas and spring break, she said, so her parents have taken out a loan to visit her during Christmas. Dean Silverman, in collaboration with the Office of International Students and Scholars, has arranged for them to have free housing. She said a junior who lives off campus also offered her house for Christmas break.
Lim said she never has to go alone to the hospital because a friend always volunteers to accompany her, and her suitemates in Morse have been instrumental in getting her through this ordeal.
“When my condition would get worse, they kept vigils at by bedside” she said. “I am like a pregnant woman with food cravings and [they] get me food from restaurants all the time.”
Lim is a patient at the Smilow Cancer Hospital, where she will ultimately undergo 13 rounds of chemotherapy, which will last until April.