luncheon photoCancer has become a constant companion in our lives. Even when you don’t think it affects you, it still does. This point was driven home when I attended the 8th Annual Pretty in Pink Luncheon last week.

As I opened the program, I noticed the name of my eighth-grade history teacher, who had recently succumbed to breast cancer. She was the teacher who inspired my love of history and who is ultimately responsible for me being a history major today.  Of the six names in the program of women who had died of breast cancer, I had a connection with one. 

And there were other reminders of cancer’s pervasive presence.

During the event, Marcy Bowie, the co-organizer, asked everyone who had been affected by cancer to stand. Everyone in the room stood up. Across campus, a memorial service was taking place for Brother Donald Mansir, who had died of cancer a few days before. The luncheon began with a moment of silence in Brother Donald’s honor.

The Pretty in Pink event, which began as the Pretty in Pink Tea eight years ago, has expanded into a larger luncheon, and this year it included a guest panel.  It is held as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the proceeds are donated to the Women’s Cancer Resource Center in Oakland.

In the past few years, the luncheon has become more accessible to all members of the Saint Mary’s community,  bringing in students who are “secondary survivors”— friends or loved ones of cancer patients. One of the focus points of the luncheon at the Soda Center was the importance of inclusivity and support.

“We have five core Lasallian values that we base everything on, which include “Inclusive Community” and “Respect for All Persons,” said Sharon Sobotta, the director of the Saint Mary’s Women’s Resource Center.  “If there is one member of our community affected by this—and there are so many more than one—then it has an impact on all of us.”

Senior Brian Shaw, who recently lost his mother to leukemia, spoke of his experience as part of a panel at the luncheon. He acknowledged the importance of a support unit in helping each other to heal. “I had to rely a lot on everyone around me in the community. One of the great things about the Saint Mary’s community is that we all come together and share our experiences. I am so grateful for that.”

By Kathryn Geraghty '12

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