OUWB medical students’ effort to raise awareness about breast cancer

Rachel Yim, Science & Technology Reporter

Oct. was breast cancer awareness month. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 290,560 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022, along with an additional 51,400 cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which is the presence of abnormal cells inside a milk duct in the breast. Therefore, breast cancer remains the most common cancer type in women apart from skin cancers. 

Given the opportunity of community service through Make a Difference Day on Oct. 22, around 15 to 20 OUWB medical students volunteered at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event.

As the nation’s largest and most impactful breast cancer movement, this event involves the three to five-mile noncompetitive walks and serves the purpose of raising life saving funds that support breast cancer patients, survivors and caregivers throughout their journey.

The walk took place at the Rochester Municipal Park, with student volunteers gathering to cheer the breast cancer patients and survivors on as they passed by. 

One of the OUWB medical student volunteers of the event, Froslida Pushani (M1), said one of the greatest motivators for her to take part in this meaningful activity was her grandmother, who passed away from a battle with breast cancer.

“I wanted to give back to the community in some way,” Pushani said. “When I saw the need for volunteers at this event, I jumped at the opportunity and recruited some of my classmates who I thought would really enjoy this event, as well.

Pushani’s grandmother passed away as a result of breast cancer as a young person living in Albania.

“We didn’t know what it was at the time because of poor advancements in technology in the country,” Pushani said. “At the time, we thought it was liver cancer, until we learned differently. This prompted many women in my family, including myself, to become more aware of breast cancer and early signs. It felt extremely rewarding honoring those who have been through this cumbersome experience, including my grandma.”

As an individual who experienced her family member’s fight against breast cancer and her support for all breast cancer patients and survivors in the world, Pushani hoped to deliver a message. 

“You are not alone,” Pushani said. “We support you and your fight and only hope to become the future physicians who you can trust and confide in. You are loved.”

In addition to the students who participated in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event, approximately 60 other OUWB medical students volunteered at different facilities such as Capuchin Conner Center in Detroit, The Baldwin Center and Lighthouse in Pontiac. 

“Get involved in your community and help your fellow neighbors,” Pushani said. “With so many societal and health injustices in the world, in order to make a real difference, we have to work together and start locally. Be kind, spread positivity. Sometimes all a person needs is knowing that someone supports them.”