Over the course of the past ten months, I spent a generous amount of time dedicated to organizing a volleyball tournament with an immense amount of support from my peers and coaches, as well as a tremendous measure of help and guidance from my mother. Through a long but educational process of sending countless emails seeking support and sponsorship, I discovered how time consuming and involved the process of creating, organizing and leading such a large event actually is.
I’ll always remember what my coach said to me on the morning of October 8th, which was the day of our Dig Pink tournament, and was also the first official volleyball tournament Lenape High School has ever hosted. She pulled me into the gym, off to the side to watch all the athletes warming up for the day and the parents filling the bleachers. She told me to stop for a moment, and to absorb everything I had organized and accomplished for this day. The pride and sense of achievement I felt was something I will cherish always, as well as the feeling that I was making a difference and contributing to a much bigger cause.
A few months into the development of the tournament, my mother and I discovered that we not only could donate our earnings to the Side-Out Foundation, but could direct a portion of the proceeds towards another charity of our choosing. After much research, we stumbled upon a local non-profit organization, Clark Family Breast Cancer Services. CFBCS is a family run, support services organization, started by two brothers and one of their wives, who unfortunately lost a number of family members to breast cancer, as well as other forms of cancer. CFBCS focuses on educating and helping lower income and uninsured women. I contacted Mrs. Maria Clark, one of the founders of the organization, and we set a date to meet in person.
Upon meeting Mrs. Clark, I was presented with a welcoming and grateful hug, and countless gratitude for my decision in supporting their organization. Mrs. Clark told me her family’s story, and how they use their organization to educate women about the way breast cancer can and will affect their bodies if they do not care for it properly. Not only do they encourage yearly mammograms, they educate women about the importance of self-examinations and leading a healthy lifestyle. They stress the importance of annual doctor’s appointments and checkups to ensure their health. They help pay for mammograms for the uninsured. They reward women with gift cards for groceries and other necessities when they schedule their annual mammogram and show proof of attendance. CFBCS also helps women undergoing treatment by contributing financially to co-pays, prescriptions and other costs incurred by patients seeking treatment.
The pride and sense of achievement I felt was something I will cherish always, as well as the feeling that I was making a difference and contributing to a much bigger cause.
The passion that Mrs. Clark spoke with was truly inspiring, and it was heartwarming to actually meet and learn about a family so deeply affected by breast cancer. I also listened to a podcast on cancercare.org about triple negative breast cancer to increase my comprehension of the way the cancer cells attack the breast area, and the methods of removal and recovery afterwards. I also read an article in a recent issue of Time Magazine about the toll the process of fighting cancer takes on family members who become caretakers. Both the podcast and the article were extremely insightful and very informative as I had not fully understood the many different ways breast cancer affects a woman’s body.
As a young woman on the brink of adulthood, I do not believe that many young women my age are educated enough about the importance of performing self examinations, or even knowing what the warning signs of breast cancer are. To build on what I have learned from this experience, I hope to host another tournament at my high school next season in my senior year. I would like to have more of my teammates involved, to give them the opportunity to experience what I have over these past few months. I wholeheartedly believe that to help women fight against breast cancer, they must first feel empowered to take control of their health and have the desire to learn more about the way their bodies work. Knowing that I can help other young women learn the importance of early detection and breast health, and also help raise funds for research, is very rewarding.