On February 9th we held our first tissue collection event of the new year, here in Indianapolis at the IU Simon Cancer Center. Jessica Henderson, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at IU Kokomo, teaches a class called “Breast Cancer and Civic Engagement”. As an assignment, Professor Henderson and her entire class volunteered at the event. As today’s blog entry, we hope you enjoy the words of Professor Henderson speaking about the experience.
Many seeds of advocacy have been planted in young women and men because of the opportunity the IU Kokomo students had to participate in the Komen Tissue Bank Drive. The 16 students served as donors, donor escorts, specimen runners and hospitality servers. I witnessed an instant enthusiasm for breast cancer advocacy from the students and was amazed at the sense of community. As part of the “Civic Engagement Model” (learning; connecting; engaging; reflecting), the students wrote reflection papers at the end of the day on February 9. Here is a sample of what each student wrote:
- I learned that helping others could be the most empowering, moving experience a person can have. Now I have a better sense of the direction I want to take with my life.
- Events like this make life worth fighting for, when we are able to see the good in people.
- At the end of the day I felt a sense of accomplishment and was extremely proud to have played a role in something so epic that can change the lives of many women.
- I was touched by the unity of so many women of all kinds of backgrounds. Every single person there had a smile on their face that was sincere.
- Something that impacted me today was seeing an African American woman who was pregnant come be a donor. I was thinking how fearless it was of her to be a donor at this point in her life. Another woman had come because her mother passed away from breast cancer, and now she has a friend who had breast cancer.
- An experience like this changes a person—it opens your eyes to the real world, and what it actually takes to make a change.
- I experienced personal growth today by seeing the mass amount of women of all ages, races and ethnicities come together to be proactive and fight for a cure.
- I learned how awesome it was to be a part of such an important research project and now I have a better understanding of comradery and what advocacy is!
- I expected mass chaos with the donors, and found instead peace and an easy flow from each station.
- Everyone had different reasons for being there, but in the end all that mattered was everyone was helping out and being supportive.
- Everything was clearly labeled and mapped out, there were more than enough volunteers to cover every position and everyone was happy to be there helping such a great cause.
- My favorite part of today was being a donor!
- The advice that I would give to volunteers going for the first time would be to come with an open heart and open mind because this experience is so gratifying.
- I expected a fast paced, get-in, get-out kind of atmosphere and found instead a relaxed environment where donors were treated with a great deal of respect and gratitude.
- At the end of the day the IUK students were all talking about what a great experience it was to be involved.
- After today, I feel better prepared to give time to important causes, because I see that every little bit helps.
- At the end of the day, IUK students showed professionalism and teamwork
- I expected the day to be long and tiring but found instead that I was humbled and overjoyed with the entire experience.
- Since I know the procedure now, I would love to donate next time.
Three days after we got back from the KTB drive, a student told me that they have been talking with each other and they want to start a student organization on our campus devoted to breast cancer advocacy. They asked me to be the faculty advisor, and they are already looking into making it official through the Student Affairs Office, writing a constitution, etc. Yay! One of the guys in the class is going to attend a breast cancer support group through his church, and will honor/celebrate the six survivor members through a presentation in class next week.
Thank you and your colleagues at the KTB for all the great work you are doing. As a breast cancer survivor, I am deeply appreciative.