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Think Pink!

Westfield honors Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Kayla Butera and Nicole Boutsikaris

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Westfield is decked out in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. From the pink posters lining the pathway to school to the pink ribbons on people’s shirts, it’s no doubt that WHS takes pride in celebrating survivors and supporting the advancement of treatment.

The community of those affected by breast cancer unite at Pink Out. Already in its 10th year, Pink Out is an event in which all the WHS girls volleyball teams, coached by 10-year breast cancer survivor Beverly Torok, play neighboring opponents to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation.  

“It feels really good to know that we’re contributing to something that matters rather than just playing a sport,” said senior varsity volleyball player Grace Gruters. “A game won’t matter in a couple months but doing something that supports others will.”

At the end of the event, the Westfield community shows its support, with volleyball players locking hands to form a tunnel, and survivors running through to receive flowers. “[It] helps let them know that their community has their back, and we’re all doing what we can to support them,” noted Gruters.

This year, Pink Out raised approximately $22,000 that will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Among the breast cancer survivors at Pink Out were teachers. “It was a little shocking at the time,” said Chemistry Teacher Martha Bailey, reflecting on her breast cancer diagnosis in December 2016. “[Getting diagnosed] throws you for a while until you really know what’s going on.”

She was not alone in her sentiments. As EIS Science Teacher Tamara Zuckerman, who was diagnosed in November 2016, said, “The hardest and scariest part is actually beginning those first few months–learning, and not knowing, and figuring out your plan.”

According to americancancersociety.com, there are multiple types of breast cancers, some genetic (BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene). Various treatments include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and immunotherapy. Despite differing paths to recovery, each teacher found support through family and friends.

While Torok initially focused on the unknown, she said, “I tried to stay positive. I had a huge support system, with my family, friends, and team, and it was helpful–without a doubt.”

Since 1989, according to breastcancer.org, breast cancer rates have decreased but there’s still more work to be done. One of the more severe types of breast cancer is metastatic, in which the cancer spreads to other parts of the body. Zuckerman believes, “[Metastatic breast cancer is] where the wave of the future of funding and research should go to, so I would like to see more people fundraising and donating to metastatic breast cancer.”

Breast cancer awareness extends beyond October, especially for survivors who find joy in daily occurrences. Torok said, “I am celebrating today because I’m here.”

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