Cancer Education: 3 Tips for Staying Healthy

We all view cancer as an awful disease, a disease that is totally out of our control. We may not be doctors, conducting research to find a cure, but we are Relayers, raising money, and doing our part to help.

But we can do more than that. As individuals, we can follow a few simple guidelines to keep ourselves healthy, and at the lowest risk for getting cancer. Some of these tips may seem more obvious than others, but I feel that they are all beneficial. It is important for all of us to remind ourselves of the small steps we can take each day to keep ourselves healthy.

1.  Sun Protection!

  • Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and there is so much we can do to keep our body safe from the sun. We all love a good beach day, but your long-term health is much more important than getting as tan. USE SUNSCREEN! Remember to reapply frequently, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest. However, ultraviolet radiation doesn’t just come from the sun. It comes from tanning beds as well, so it is your best option to avoid using them. Studies have indicated that too much sun exposure is strongly linked to basal and squamous cell skin cancer and melanoma. Make sure to self-examine your skin regularly, and consult a doctor if you find something concerning. If you have a mole, keep the ABCDE rule in mind: A is for asymmetry, B is for border, C is for color, D is for diameter, and E is for evolving.

2. Maintain a healthy diet, and exercise often!

  • Staying active and eating healthy can make a big difference in lowering your risk for cancer, in addition to many other diseases. Being overweight can increase cancer risk because excess weight leads to increased estrogen and insulin production, which are hormones that can cause cancer growth. As far as a diet, you should strive to eat at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day, choose whole grains rather than refined grain products, and avoid eating too much red meat and processed meat.

3. Visit your doctor on a regular basis for screenings!

  • Many people may be nervous to visit the doctor to get a test done. But, it’s better to be safe than sorry! If you find a lump or mole that you are concerned about, it’s your best bet to just check in with the doctor. Additionally, it is a good idea for men and women to get tested for colon cancer starting at age 50. Women are encouraged to get yearly mammograms starting at the age of 45. Although it may be nerve-wracking to get these tests done, they are very common, and if any sign of cancer is found, it could save your life. Early detection is key. Make sure to schedule tests for yourself, but also encourage loved ones to do the same.

These are just three small ways that you can keep your body healthy, and at low risk for getting cancer. Also, be sure to check out these the American Cancer Society’s website with additional ways to stay healthy: https://www.cancer.org/healthy.html. Thanks for reading!

Blog by Olivia Spar of the Southeast Region Campus Leadership Team.

Lung, Bladder & Pancreatic Cancer

Blog by Will P. of the Southeastern Region Campus Leadership Team

For the past several weeks, I have been working on organizing an “Amazing Relayer” fundraiser on Lafayette’s campus. The concept for the fundraiser is similar to the show, The Amazing Race, as participants in both race to complete activities in order to win. The idea of doing it as a Relay For Life fundraiser started (as far as I know) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and I have been basing my event off of theirs.

I wanted our event to be fun and enticing, obviously, but I also wanted to use it as a form of cancer education. I wanted to help spread cancer facts that most people are unaware of, even though they are important in terms of risk factors and prevention for different types of cancer.  In my research for the event, I came across some facts and information that even I was unaware of, so I thought it would be beneficial and interesting to share some of these facts, as well as other lesser-known tidbits, with the rest of the Campus Relay World. 

Everyone knows that smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, but there’s actually a lot more to it than that. I mean A LOT more to it. To start, smoking isn’t just connected to lung cancer. It is also strongly connected to esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, liver, pancreas, stomach, cervix, colon and rectum cancers. 

Building off of that, lung cancer is not just caused by smoking. In fact, roughly 20,000 people die of lung cancer every year after never touching a cigarette. There is an unfortunate stigma surrounding lung cancer where people believe that everyone who has lung cancer smoked, and therefore they brought it upon themselves. Lung cancer is also one of the least funded types of cancers, in part due to this stigma. Organizations like the American Lung Association and Lung Cancer Alliance are working to dispel this stigma. The second leading cause of lung cancer, which most people are unaware of, is exposure to radon, which is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and radioactive gas. The only way to know of the presence of radon is to test for it, which can actually be done fairly easily. You can buy tests online and have results within 1-2 weeks. 

Moving on, I found that pancreatic cancer has one of the lowest survival rates. The risk factors for pancreatic cancer aren’t unusual. Smoking, older age, obesity, genetics and diabetes top most lists for risk factors, and yet all have been linked to many different types of cancer. Different diseases, like pancreatitis, have sometimes been linked to pancreatic cancer as well. Ninety-five percent of all pancreatic cancers begin in exocrine cells, which produce digestive enzymes, and the other five percent start in endocrine cells, which produce hormones. Because pancreatic cancer can start in either type of cell, and the cells have completely different functions, the symptoms for the two types of pancreatic cancer are very different. Jaundice, weight loss and back and abdomen pain are a few common symptoms for cancer that starts in the exocrine cells. Sweating, rapid heart rate, and nausea are just a few symptoms for cancer that starts in the endocrine cells. 

Another interesting thing I learned was about bladder cancer. It doesn’t create the kind of buzz that lung and breast cancers do, yet it is one of the most common types of cancer in the United States. Although it can be hard to determine the cause, bladder cancer is many times caused by parasitic infection or environmental issues. One example of an environmental issue is arsenic in a water supply. There is strong evidence that relates arsenic exposure to bladder cancer. This, like radon, can also be tested for with some fairly inexpensive tests that can be purchased online. 

Now here are some shorter, but still not well known, cancer facts:

  • A study released a few years ago illustrated that sleep deprivation could lead to more polyps in a person’s colon and an increased cancer risk.

  • According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, there are more skin cancer cases due to indoor tanning (419,000) than lung cancer cases due to smoking.

  • For most cases of liver cancer, the cause is unknown.

  • Testicular cancer has the highest survival rate, while pancreatic has the lowest.

  • Certain trained dogs have been able to smell cancers! Seriously. MIND. BLOWN. And they’re accurate about 90-95% of the time, which is better than some lab tests. Get it? Lab? Because of some dogs… Nevermind. It’s a real statistic.

Well, I hope this blog has taught you something about cancer that you didn’t know before. If you have any questions about specific facts or statistics, or are interested in also doing an “Amazing Relayer” fundraiser, let me know. Shoot me an email at pfadenwill@gmail.com. 

Sources: American Cancer Society, NIH National Cancer Institute, Cancer Research UK, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Skin Cancer Foundation, CNN.

Breast Cancer Awareness Celebration

Campus Relay's Promoting Breast Cancer Awareness

Happy Halloween! It’s crazy to see that October is already over. It’s been incredibly inspiring and exciting to see SO many campuses participate in Breast Cancer Awareness month and put on amazing events on their campuses! In this blog post, we’ll be featuring all the awesome things you guys did all throughout the month of October to raise awareness! Make sure you check out the pictures at the bottom of this post.

Northwestern University

At Northwestern University, they participated in Making Strides of Park Ridge by tabling at the ACS CAN tent all morning, getting over 100 petitions signed at the event. On campus, they guarded “The Rock” for 24 hours and then painted it pink to raise awareness on campus for not only breast cancer, but also Relay For Life as an organization. They also partnered with their Zeta Tau Alpha chapter and passed out pink ribbons for students to pin onto their backpacks. Way to go Northwestern!

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

At he University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, they hosted a Pink Week on their campus quad, where they sold both short sleeve and long sleeve shirts the entire week to raise money for their CAC chapter. They also had tons of information and activities about breast cancer screenings and prevention! Amazing work UofI!!

University of Georgia

Relay For Life of The University of Georgia hosted a Pink Out Tailgate where they handed out tons of pink treats while educating students on breast cancer statistics and facts! Way to go, UGA!

University of Wisconsin, Madison

At UW-Madison, they hosted an awesome Breast Fest Week, which included a fall kickoff, a breast cancer panel, a bros in bras event, a balloon release, and an event reminding loved ones to schedule their mammograms. They also hosted a fall luminaria ceremony as a big part of their week! Congrats on an amazing Breast Fest Week, UW-Madison!

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

ACPHS Relay For Life decorated their student center with various pink decorations to amp up the excitement for Making Strides in Albany. They also held a Think Pink Party, which had Basket-Bra, Plinko, raffles, and a pink bake sale which raised $500! They also had a penny wars competition between the male faculty members on who would wear a pink mullet wig for a day to raise awareness for the Real Men Wear Pink Challenge, which raised $50! Finally, students, faculty, and staff came together and participated in their local Making Strides event and raised $4,463.49. Amazing work ACPHS!

DePaul University

At DePaul University, the CAC chapter volunteered at their Making Strides event in Chicago as ACS CAN reps and as cheerleaders. They also hosted an events with their activities board where students can decorated ribbon shaped cookies and take pictures with a giant pink chair. Breast cancer informational material and pink ribbons were also handed out. Awesome work DePaul!

Eastlake High School

At Eastlake High School, they created crowd boards for the student section to hold that created the image of a pink ribbon. They also tabled at lunch periods and asked students to text two women in their life asking them to get their annual mammogram. They also made cards for all of their female faculty members reminding them to get their mammograms as well. Amazing work Eastlake!

University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

University of Wisconsin-Whitewater hosted a Bros in Bras event on their campus, and collected donations for Relay For Life of UW-Whitewater while passing out baked goods! Great work UW-Whitewater!

Ohio State University

At The Ohio State University, the Relayers put on a pink week, which featured bra pong, and tons of information pertaining to breast cancer awareness. Great work OSU!

SUNY Geneseo

SUNY Geneseo put on Breast Week Ever on their campus, where they provided information on mammograms, had a pink pumpkin painting day, played bra pong, sold tee shirts, passed out ribbons, and held a dodgeball tournament. They also participated in their local Making Strides Event! What a phenomenal week for SUNY Geneseo!

Thank you to ALL the schools that participated in Breast Cancer Awareness month this October and did your part to help raise awareness on your campuses! Although October may be over now, our campaigns to raise awareness on our campuses never end! Be sure to take all the amazing work you did this month and carry it over to the months to come! 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Hey Campus Relayers!

As you all know, October is here and that means the cancer of the month is breast cancer! Breast Cancer is one of the better known cancers in the country, as one in eight women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetimes. It is predicted that nearly 250,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in 2016, and that 40,000 women will die of breast cancer in 2016. 

A lot of Campus Relayers all over the country have had experiences with breast cancer in their life, whether it is a mother, a sister, an aunt, a grandmother, a friend, or any woman in your life, breast cancer has affected many of us across the globe in different ways, shapes, and forms.

Although breast cancer has affected so many loved ones in our lives, there’s a lot to celebrate! Since 1989, death rates due to breast cancer have been dropping more and more each year, due to advances in medical technology and prevention techniques that the American Cancer Society has done a tremendous job of educating people about. At this time, there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, and that’s something truly remarkable.

That’s why this October, we’re going to celebrate together, as a nationwide campus movement. This year we’re launch our first ever Breast Cancer Awareness Celebration Week! Participating in this celebration is super easy and will be tons of fun, and this is how it’s going to work:

Campuses (that’s you guys!) will be putting on Breast Cancer Awareness events on your campuses! Whether you hand out mammogram reminder postcards on National Mammography Day, table on your campus with a bra pong booth, hand out pink ribbons or pink Relay tshirts, or whatever other way you choose to promote Breast Cancer Awareness on your campus, we want to see what you’re doing! We ask that you send us videos and pictures of the events that you host on your campus, describe what the event is, the impact it had on your campus/how many people were involved, and the name of your school! We ask that you send these in by Saturday, October 22nd at the latest!

Then, from October 24th to October 31st, we will have our Breast Cancer Awareness Celebration Week! Through Facebook posts, Instagram pictures, and blog posts on our Campus Relay Website, we will be featuring and spotlighting all the schools that participated in the event so that the entire country can see the amazing work that you’ve done on your campus to raise awareness for breast cancer!

To help you guys out in the planning of your Breast Cancer Awareness events, we at the National Campus Leadership Team have created a special resource that we are launching out called the Cancer Education Toolkit! This toolkit is a month by month guide filled with ideas, graphics, and other resources that pertain specifically to that month’s specific cancer. Here is the link the October Guide of the Cancer Ed. Toolkit, which should help plenty if you’re stuck on coming up with ideas to raise awareness on your campus! 

Best of luck in all of your Breast Cancer Awareness events! We can’t wait to see what you do to raise awareness on your campuses!
 

Blog by: Jazib Gohar, NCLT- Cancer Education Chair

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

It’s September! The leaves are starting to change, college football is in full swing, and pumpkin spice lattes are back (if you’re into that). But more importantly, September is also a big cancer awareness month--September is the awareness month for childhood, gynecological, leukemia/lymphoma, ovarian, prostate, and thyroid cancers. In this week’s post, we’re going to be focusing on Childhood Cancer. 

If you’re a baseball fan, you may have noticed different players, coaches and reporters around the MLB wearing yellow ribbons. These are for childhood cancer awareness. Why is childhood cancer different from other cancers? And how can we join the fight? Childhood cancer, in the most broad sense, is any type of cancer that affects children. The most common childhood cancers are different from those that affect adults; childhood cancer is similar in that it is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. However, for children, these abnormalities come from their genetics, with little to no effect from environmental factors. And that is why we focus on Childhood Cancer this month: to give children a chance to reclaim their childhood from cancer.

The battle is far from over, but it’s part of our mission to celebrate how far we have come. This month, the CDC released new information about childhood cancer- some good, some bad. Brain cancer is now the number one cause of death amongst children and teens in the United States. Looking beyond this, however, we see that the reason brain cancer is the number one cause of death is because survival rates for leukemia, the previous leading cause, have risen significantly. In essence, the support and treatment has the ACS changing lives, with one cancer at a time. Additionally, the funding for new and alternate treatments has drastically changed the lives of those affected by cancer: compared to past decades, children diagnosed with cancer now have an 80% chance of surviving for 5 or more years, whereas the rate in the 1970s was 58%. This jump in survivorship is more than worthy of recognition, but know that the ACS’s track record shows that they will never stop fundraising and researching until there are no statistics such as these.  


The American Cancer Society fights childhood cancer in several ways. The ACS provides information as well as services to those diagnosed. On their website alone (cancer.org), there are dozens of articles regarding childhood cancer, covering subjects that range from coping with diagnosis, to understanding pediatric oncology better, and even to returning to school after remission). ACS programs, like Road to Recovery, Hope Lodges, and Look Good Feel Better, are all available for childhood cancer patients. The Society also funds research and health programs aimed at helping children with cancer and their families. Lastly, ACS CAN advocates for laws and policies that increasing funding for research, help improve the quality of life for children that face cancer, and broaden health care access. 

Curious how you can make a difference in the fight against Childhood Cancer? Here are a couple ideas to help you get started:

  • Help spread awareness! Posts on social media work well, but don’t be afraid to also start a conversations with people.

  • Wear gold to show support for families and patients of childhood cancer!

  • Organize a letter drive (possibly for upcoming holidays, like Halloween and Thanksgiving) to deliver to a nearby cancer treatment center to show a child that we are fighting for them!

  • Host an awareness/education event on campus for childhood cancer. There’s no better way to start off the Relay Year than a big cancer education/advocacy push!

  • Join ACS CAN! For $10 you get a year long subscription to the Cancer Action Network which makes a real difference when it comes to laws and policies. There are a lot of ways you can become more involved with ACS CAN if you have the time/ability.

Thank you for tuning in to this week’s blog! The inspirational children and families we are spotlighting this month show that it’s our hope, not our hurts, that shape our future.

Co-Authored by: Will Pfadenhauer and Ana Landon (Southeast Regional Team)

Cancer Education: Sun Safety

With summer in full swing, we wanted to bring sun safety to your attention to make sure you know all the facts behind sun safety and so that you can take measures to protect yourself from the sun!

Why Sun Safety?

The big focus behind sun safety comes from UV (Ultraviolet) radiation. UV radiation comes mainly from the sun, but can also come from other sources like tanning beds. These UV rays, in excess and higher intensity, can damage the DNA in the cells in our body. Since UV rays cannot pass through the body, they radiate and damage our skin cells which causes skin cancer.

Basic Facts:

  • Skin cancer is a malignant tumor that develops from skin cells. Basal cell cancers start in the basal cells, and they’re the most common variation of skin cancer since they account for 80% of cases. Squamous cell skin cancers account for 20% of skin cases and start in the squamous cells.

  • Melanoma starts in the melanocytes, and these cells create melanin which gives skin its tan color. These tumors are usually black or brown and are most commonly found on the trunk (chest and back) in men, and on the legs in women.

  • The most common sign of skin cancer is an unusual sore, lump, blemish, marking, or change in a way an area of skin either looks or feels. The skin may become scaly or crusty or begin oozing or bleeding. Pain or discomfort are often involved as well and may not heal or get worse.

Studies of Sun Exposure:

Basal and squamous cell skin cancer, the most common types of skin cancer, and Melanoma are linked to sun related behaviors, such as:

  • Spending time in the sun for recreation (going to the beach)

  • Spending a lot of time in the sun in a swimsuit

  • Living in an area with high amount of sun

  • Suffered serious sunburns in the past

  • Having signs of sun damage to the skin, such as liver spots, rough skin patches, or thickened dry skin

 

Who is at risk?

  • People who get a lot of exposure to UV light are at greater risk for skin cancer; exposure at a young age is an added risk factor.

  • A person who has many moles is more likely to develop melanoma.

  • Whites with fair (light-colored) skin that freckles or burns easily are at especially high risk.

  • Melanoma risk is greater if one or more first-degree relatives (parent, sibling, or child) has had melanoma. Around 10% of all people with melanoma have a family history of the disease.

  • Men are about twice as likely as women to have basal cell cancers and about three times as likely to have squamous cell cancers of the skin. Before age 40, melanoma risk is higher for women; after age 40, the risk is higher in men.

  • Melanoma is 20 times more common in whites than in African Americans. Overall, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 2% for whites, 0.1% for African Americans, and 0.5% for Hispanics.

What is the best way to protect yourself?

  • The “Slip! Slop! Slap! Wrap!” rules are the ones to follow:

    • Slip on a shit to cover your skin

    • Slop on some sunscreen of at least SPF 30 on all exposed skin

    • Slap on a hat to shade your face, ears, and neck

    • Wrap on a pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes and the nearby skin

  • Always be sure to check your skin regularly! The sooner skin cancer is found, the chances are better for successful treatment.

    • Make sure to learn the pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin so you'll be well aware when there any changes.

    • Use a full length mirror in a well lit room, or a handheld mirror to examine the scalp, lower back, and other hard to see areas.

Ways to raise awareness on YOUR campus!

  • Do a “Slip, Slop, Slap, Wrap!” race for sun safety. Divide participants into groups of four people. On one side of the field, place one of each of the following items for each team: an oversized T-shirt for “Slip on a Shirt,” a hat for “Slap on a Hat,” a cup of sunscreen for “Slop on Sunscreen,” and a pair of sunglasses for “Wrap on Sunglasses.” Each team sends one player down the field to put on the appropriate item. That player then runs back and tags the next person on their team. The first team to “Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap” wins!

  • Carry black umbrellas with sun safety messages and skin cancer facts painted on them around campus.

  • Play Holey Moley! Paint a face on a board, cut holes for moles, and play cornhole. Incorporate the ABCDEs of cancerous moles by asking participants to state the ABCDEs – asymmetry, border, color, diameter, elevation – before each toss.

  • Hand out shade caps and sunscreen at outdoor athletic events.

  • Host a sunscreen Slip and Slide. Don't forget to provide goggles!

  • Create a skin cancer information quiz:

    • Give everyone three minutes to complete the quiz.

    • Go over the answers and give a prize to the person who gets the most right!

No matter how you choose to have in fun in the sun, make sure you’re taking the right precautions so that you’re protecting yourself! 

Questions or comments? Reach out to Jazib- NCLT Cancer Education Chair at jazibgohar2018@u.northwestern.edu.