By Carolyn Conte | The Duquesne Duke
“His physical appearance changed greatly. He had the ‘moon face’, typical with chemo treatment.”
Sophomore Duquesne student Deanna Dicesere’s younger cousin Michael was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at just four years old, in May of 2010.
“It was just difficult to see such a little kid go through spinal taps and blood transfusions,” Discesere said.
Just four years later, Discesere started her freshman year at Duquesne, where she joined the university’s Colleges Against Cancer chapter.
“This organization is very important to me because I saw first hand what my little cousin went through and it inspires me to help raise money to find a cure so no one has to go through what my cousin did,” Dicesere said.
The club focuses on raising money for finding a cure to cancer, and is known for its ardent involvement in marathon fundraisers, especially the annual Relay for Life race. This year, Duquesne’s chapter of the organization has held events such as a shirt sale to raise money for breast cancer research, fundraisers in the union and campaigns to raise awareness of the severity of cancer.
“In my opinion, almost everyone is affected by cancer,” chapter president Jessica Kulwicki said. “It’s a really easy charity to be involved in, and American Cancer Society is really good at [its] research.”
Colleges Against Cancer has been at Duquesne for almost a decade, where it has grown significantly.
“We put a lot of work into our club – it’s very tiring – but we still were able to raise $27,000 last year, which was a huge increase from the $20,000 raised a few years ago,” Kulwicki said.
However, the club won’t slow down any time soon.
“Duquesne could do so much more,” Kulwicki said.
The group currently has about 25 members, but they are always looking for new students to join them at their Monday meetings in Fisher Hall 625. Students can sign up for emails on CampusLink.
“I joined because I did Relay for Life in high school a few times … When I saw that it was here, I said ‘If I do anything I have to do that,’” Kulwicki explained.
Duquesne’s Relay for Life will take place on Academic Walk Saturday, April 9 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. That may seem like a strange time for an event, but there’s a reason behind it.
“Cancer never sleeps,” Kulwicki explained. “So we have at least one member from each team walking around the track all night.”
Relay for Life funds the American Cancer Society’s research. There will be food, games, tournaments and raffles. There will also be a moment to honor those affected by cancer. Registered teams set up a table with things to sell or an activity to raise charity — then all of the proceeds are donated to the American Cancer Society.
Colleges Against Cancer also goes off-campus to raise funds, and members can be seen at Pittsburgh events such as the annual Light Up Night selling glow-sticks with names attached to honor, support or remember those who have battled cancer. This year, extra glow-sticks were placed around the PPG ice skating rink as tribute.
“It’s a very fun and beautiful ceremony!” Kulwicki said.
Almost 50,000 people die each month in the United States because of cancer, according to the ACS. This makes it the second leading cause of death among Americans, according to the CDC.
“You never know what could happen within the hour, tomorrow or even within the next year,” Dicesere said.
Nationally, the organization’s current goal is to make Congress prioritize cancer. Their website also lists a number of ongoing campaigns, such as their efforts to have all women obtain mammograms, and to reduce tobacco use.
Their motto states “If one student can battle cancer, a nation can rise up and defeat it!”