There have been a few misconceptions about the UChicago Colleges Against Cancer (CAC)’s breast cancer awareness campaign—dubbed Breastival—held October 18–23. Many of these were created or perpetuated by Emily Kaiser’s editorial “Right Intentions, Wrong Methods” (10/23/09), in which she asserts that Breastival contributed “no real initiatives or ideas beyond donating proceeds.”
The fact is this: Breastival kicked off on Sunday, October 18, with volunteering at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk/Run. Tuesday saw Game Day on the quads, where for two hours participants could play breast cancer–related games, including educational trivia. There was no “mock beer pong set-up.”
Wednesday evening featured “Dinner of Hope” where survivors, caregivers, and any Hyde Parker affected by the disease were invited to share personal stories about breast cancer and make cards for patients in the oncology unit at Rush Hospital.
On Friday, CAC members encouraged students to “DialPink!” and call women they knew to advocate preventive measures, such as mammograms and clinical breast examinations. Important information on breast cancer was handed out every day.
After just five days selling cupcakes and T-shirts, CAC members raised $1,000 for Making Strides. UChicago CAC did all of this not by ignoring or “trivializing” the severities of breast cancer, but by confronting them head on. CAC focused on solutions—raising awareness and offering support—rather than dwelling on the problem.
Nine-year cancer survivor and proud U of C parent Christina Manuelli commented on Kaiser’s article online about the true spirit of Breastival: “Cancer makes people uncomfortable. It also makes people flee…So, what is the best way to draw young healthy college students in? You have to make it funny. You have to make them laugh. Because that’s the first step to helping people get past the feeling of discomfort and allowing them to open up to the message of hope.”
While the tone of Breastival was intentionally sexual in order to capture attention, it also addressed the toll breast cancer takes on a woman’s sexuality. Supporting this hardship and others is the American Cancer Society’s mission, too—not just raising money.
To all the students who were able to smile at a joke or enjoy a treat during the week of Breastival, CAC thanks you for taking the first step toward fighting breast cancer, and we look forward to your support in future events.
President, Colleges Against Cancer