Helping give breast cancer the boot

May 16 will mark the third annual “Making Strides Against BreastCancer” walk in Portland, and Gwyn Ashcom, outreach coordinator forthe Student Center for Health and Counseling, is putting a togetherteam to represent Portland State.

The 5-mile non-competitive walk, sponsored by the AmericanCancer Society, will begin in the Park Blocks between College andHarrison Street at 10 a.m. (registration begins at 9 a.m.). Theevent, which raised $27,000 last year, will consist of families,individuals and of groups standing in for a variety of businessesand organizations.

The assembly will head down to the waterfront, winding aroundthe esplanade and eventually back to the park blocks in an effortto raise money, awareness and support for those affected by breastcancer.

“It is a convenient and accessible way to give something back tothe community and to show support for those who are still alive andto honor those who aren’t,” Ashcom said. This is her first timeorganizing a group for PSU.

Having been affected when her best friend was recently diagnosedwith breast cancer, she was inspired to get involved and to drawattention to the cause during a luncheon where members of thecommunity such as Senator Ron Wyden and Stacey Lynn from 107.5 FMspoke on behalf of the American Cancer Society. Ashcom has plansfor an informational bulletin board in the Smith Memorial StudentUnion, fliers and tables on the park blocks between 11 a.m. and 2p.m. on May 3 and 11 where those interested in contributing areasked to raise pledges, donate, sponsor a walker, or take part inthe walk. All are encouraged to participate if only by spreadingthe word.

There is no pre-registration fee or registration fee, but fundsraised by the walk will be used to promote early detection, to fundresearch for a cure, and to advocate for access to quality healthcare and screening for all women.

Charlene Levesque is manager of campus events and scheduling aswell a breast cancer survivor. She is adamant that people know “allwomen are different and all breast cancer is different” and thatresearch is crucial.

During her experience, she compiled a notebook that she donatedto the Women’s Resource Center. Though it is overflowing withinformation, she is firm in that “the notebook changes everyday andcan only be used as a guide, a breast cancer diagnosis not a deathsentence anymore.”

Through the support of friends and family she made it throughthe radiation treatment that she endured everyday for seven and ahalf weeks and was ultimately cured of the cancer itself. In fact,during this time, support came from an unexpected place when a PSUstaff member volunteered to take her to every one of thesetreatments. Her eyes watered up at the mention of it;

“I’ll never forget that” she said with a smile.

There is a wealth of people and places on campus from which toget information on the topic of breast cancer.

Julianne Ballard, for instance, is a registered nurse in theStudent Health Services Building. She has also been affected by abreast cancer diagnosis of a loved one. It is not surprising,considering that breast cancer is the most common cancer amongwomen, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause ofcancer death in women, after lung cancer, according

“A lot of women panic and are fearful of finding something, butearly diagnosis makes a huge difference,” Ballard said.

Though they do not offer mammograms in the Student HealthServices Center, they do offer same day appointments, referrals andcounseling options such as social workers and psychologists. Themost important points being; know the history of cancer in yourfamily, do monthly breast exams, and know that you are notalone.

Ashcom is arranging a ten percent discount at the bookstore soparticipants can sport school colors the day of the walk. Donationsare tax deductible and there is no minimum amount. To get involved,visit the link at or contact Gwyn Ashcom by phone,503-725-5123 or by e-mail, [email protected].