Breast Cancer Awareness Walk

Written by Ignacio Cervantes, Sports Editor

Monica De La Cruz and The Associated Students of Rio Hondo College teamed up with Laura Verdugo, CARE Program Specialist, to deliver a powerful Breast Cancer Awareness event Tuesday, Oct. 9.

Students, faculty, and supporters of awareness for breast cancer united outside the Student Union building at noon. Gathered with signs, necklaces, and clothing rich in the color pink to represent their stand against the illness.

The event was put together by Community Services Senator, De La Cruz, and her peers. Laura Verdugo mentioned giving donations raised to PIH Health Hospital’s effort of providing complimentary wigs to its patients who have lost their hair from numerous chemotherapy sessions.

“I got motivated when I met Mrs. Verdugo,” said De La Cruz, “I was looking for a charity to give my donations to and she brought up the Wig Bank.

This gives a smile to the patients because hair is something that makes them feel beautiful. It makes them feel normal again.”

Crystal Maes, an 18 year Rio Hondo Marketing employee and breast cancer survivor joined the march. Maes has been cancer-free for five years and explained why it was important for her to help give back to the Wig Bank. What the symptoms of dyscrasias are is something one must be aware about.

“The fact that they’re collecting money for wigs was important to me because when I lost my hair I felt it was the hardest part of cancer because it marks you as a cancer victim,” said Maes.

PIH Health clinical nurse specialist Sarah Merkle, a graduate from Rio’s nursing program, was also at the event. Merkle wanted to show support because she thought the mission of the event is inspiring.

“Early prevention and awareness of the disease is important, It’s necessary for us to keep the information flowing to everyone,” said Merkle.

There were informational booths about cancer. Participants were provided with free lunch at the finish line and stayed afterward to share their personal experiences with breast cancer. The event emphasized to test regularly for cancer.

De La Cruz talked about her days in high school when a teammate from her soccer team stopped going to practices and games from one week to the next.

“To be playing soccer games with [my teammate] one week then they aren’t there the next week because their mom passed. It’s heartbreaking,” De La Cruz said.

De La Cruz says she feels like a voice. For those who have gone through some form of cancer and no longer want to talk about it.

She goes on by saying: “We haven’t had events supporting Breast Cancer Awareness and I just wanted something different for October. I know we’re college students so we might not have breast cancer. but we might have parents or know someone who’s going through it. So I just thought bringing awareness would be positive.”

“I just felt it was important for me to give back. Even though you might not be going through this, you should still care. Just having a heart. Maybe this can happen to you. You might not think about it happening to you. But it might and you have to be safe rather than sorry.”

“We’re all going through stuff and we can’t be quick to assume we’re all ok. I had friends in high school whose mom passed away and it was really sad,” said Crystal Maes, Graphic Artist that has worked in the Marketing Department for 18 years.

Maes says: “I just wanted to support breast cancer. I’m a survivor and have just reached my fifth year of being cancer-free. I was trying to keep it low-key before. But when you go through hair loss it starts getting out there. I had four wigs at some point. After I was finished with them, I donated them.”

“It’s interesting because it’s still a really emotional thing. Whenever I see someone going through it I get teary-eyed because it brings back all those memories. Right now I feel good. my health is good, so I’m excited about that. But cancer is a thing that never goes away because it can always come back. It’s always there in the back of your head that sits like a fear.”

Maes ends by stating, “Get your check-ups. Catching it early is a key, to me, that’s the most important thing.”

The print version of this article appeared Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Editors Note: The article has been edited from its original form in print version.