October 30, 2006

Walking the Walk to Combat Cancer

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Light pink took over the Commons on Saturday, as participants in the 13th Annual Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance Walkathon wore boas, scarves, ribbons and bracelets bearing the cause’s color. The walk raised awareness and funds for local women to fight cancer.

The theme of this year’s walkathon was Access to Health Care, which highlighted that many people in Tompkins County are among the 45 million Americans that do not have health insurance.

Nathan Shinagawa ’05 (D-4th Ward), who kicked off the walk will lively cheers, has been working on issues of health care provision.

“Access to health care is really important,” he said. “We need more preventative medicine. Because people don’t have insurance they can’t even
get a test.”

He praised government programs that provide mammograms to women over 40 but added, “People can get cancer at any age. We need a more expansive health care system to take care of all of those people.”

The event included activities, food and information booths aimed at raising awareness of issues related to women’s health and access to health care. Representatives from the Ithaca Free Clinic and Planned Parenthood were among the organizations represented. The fair included children’s tents with face painting and other activities. The Breast Cancer Alliance sold merchandise ranging from pink ribbon rubber duckies to “feel you boobies” t-shirts, to raise money. Moosewood Restaurant, Junas and Ithaca Bakery sponsored the “Healthy Nosh Tent.”

Joan Adler, who ladled out chili, soup and other healthy foods to walkers, said that she had personal reasons for volunteering.

“This is an illness that has affected me personally and I’m here to support my friends and family and the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance which is a tremendous support organization for women with breast cancer,” she said.

Many attendees have been personally affected by breast cancer, a disease which is diagnosed in approximately 180,000 women each year. Survivors wore pink sashes to identify themselves.

Linn Underhill, a survivor who was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, has walked every year since. She praised the resources that the Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance provides, such as support groups and valuable information about dealing with the disease.

“IBCA is a great Organization, it really was a wonderful resource when I was sick and it continues to help women in the community and it needs our support,” said Underhill.

Despite the rainy weather, many groups from Cornell and Ithaca College attended the event.

Jade Doyle ’08, a member of the ILR Women’s Caucus, also participated in the walk last year. “It’s nice because [the event] gets you involved in Ithaca,” she said. “It’s something that Ithaca is really supporting and Cornell can come down off the hill and join in the walk.”

Sports teams, clubs and service organizations walked together, along with teams supporting victims of breast cancer.

Erica Cutspec ’08 joined the entire Ithaca College softball team at the event. “It’s always nice as a team to come out together; it is a team building activity and it’s a cause that is probably going to be very real in one of our lives some day,” she said.

There were also a number of Greek organizations on the commons.

David Schneid ’08, a brother of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity said, “I am here because I believe that breast cancer is a horrible thing and that we need to do our best to support finding a cure.”

His fraternity brother Joe Legato ’07 added, “A fun thing to do with your friends is help out a good cause.”