Colleges Against Cancer gets students involved in fight against cancer

Team Barely Legal talks with the ref about the rules before beginning a match. Colleges Against Cancer hosted a dodgeball tournament at Lied Recreation Athletic Center on Sunday.

Frances Myers

About 11.4 million Americans were expected to die of some sort of cancer in 2010 alone, according to the American Cancer Society. This means about 1,500 people’s lives are taken by cancer every day.

ISU Colleges Against Cancer is a student organization dedicated to raising awareness as well as money for cancer research. Every year they work hand-in-hand with the American Cancer Society to hold events and get students involved in the fight against cancer.

Students involved in Colleges Against Cancer become involved for various reasons. Some have family members who have fought cancer, while others are merely aware of its presence and want to do whatever they can to help find cures.

“We have a very wide range of members who are in our club,” said Michael Tosney, junior in marketing and co-president of Colleges Against Cancer. “They come from all of the different colleges here on campus. Some people want to be very involved and can run for leadership roles, while others want to be involved in a lower level and help out at the events and in any way possible.”

Tosney became involved with Colleges Against Cancer after his grandmother was diagnosed with cancer.

“My grandmother had been struggling with cancer, and I felt like it was a good way to get involved and meet more people on campus while serving a great purpose to the community,” Tosney said.

Ashley Yingst, senior in genetics, joined Colleges Against Cancer to become more involved with her major.

“As a genetics major, I’m very interested in medicine, diseases and am looking into a profession doing clinical studies and cancer research,” Yingst said. “I thought joining [Colleges Against Cancer] would be a good first step.”

Colleges Against Cancer works throughout the year to set up fundraising events for cancer. Every October, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the organization hosts Bowling for Boobs, a bowling event held at the Memorial Union Underground for students and community members.

Sunday, Colleges Against Cancer held “Protect Your Balls,” an annual dodgeball tournament dedicated to raising awareness for victims of testicular and prostate cancer. Students could pay $10 per person and sign up in teams of six people to participate.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer death in men, with only lung cancer topping it. In 2010, approximately 32,050 men were expected to die of prostate cancer, according to statistics provided by the American Cancer Society

The Great American Smokeout is another event held by Colleges Against Cancer to help raise awareness for a common disease, lung cancer.

“This event raises awareness on lung cancer and the effects smoking and chewing has on your health,” Yingst said. “We distribute bags filled with pamphlets, stress balls and gum in exchange for someone’s cigarettes or chew.”

Perhaps the organization’s biggest event is the popular Relay for Life. This event, held in March,¬†brings over 1,800 people from both Iowa State and the Ames community together not only to raise money for cancer research, but also to celebrate the lives of survivors and the remembrance of those taken by cancer. The ISU Relay for Life typically raises over $100,000, all of which goes directly to the American Cancer Society.

Colleges Against Cancer works many different ways to gain publicity and recruit members as well as gain support from the community. Members host a booth at Club Fest to help raise awareness for the organization while other members work through word of mouth. A recruitment committee also works to help gain new members each year.

Because cancer is such a common point of interest for so many, it usually doesn’t take long for people to become members.

“Chances are, in your lifetime you will be affected by cancer, or know someone who will be affected by it,” Yingst said. “This is serious. It’s a big deal. We’re talking about people’s lives here. Cancer is painful physically and emotionally; it’s deadly and doesn’t discriminate. Look at a group of your closest friends. One or more of you will likely suffer from some type of cancer in your lifetime. Why not join a movement to help decrease that chance? Save a few lives? It’s about helping others who can’t help themselves. Personally, I’m big on being a team player, giving back to others and helping those who can’t help themselves. Being a part of [Colleges Against Cancer] gives me the opportunity to do just that. I’m not talking about just in little old Ames, Iowa. I’m talking about the world.”