ESU’s 19th Annual Pink Light Walk Empowers Breast Cancer Survivors

Photo Credit/ Charlese Freeman Lizzie Wheeler, a breast cancer survivor, credits her strength through treatment to her dog, Chris.

Charlese Freeman 

Student Life Editor

“People think when a woman gets this diagnosis, that’s all there is to her life, she’s still a mother, a student, a worker, and a caregiver. She has to find ways to take care of herself,” said Casting for Recovery’s Program Coordinator, Marsha Benovengo.

The rainy weather was no match for the high spirits and festivities in Sci-Tech’s first-floor lobby on Oct. 3, the 19th Annual Pink Light Walk.

Every year, ESU collaborates with Lehigh Valley Hospital –Poconos’ Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center, the American Cancer Society and Prime Time Health of Monroe County’s Area Agency on Aging along with local organizations and residences to host its walk.

The walk highlighted breast cancer survivors, empowers current patients and raises awareness for those who have lost the battle to breast cancer. 

Caroline McConnell, a Dale and Frances Hughes Cancer Center nurse, and Wellness Education and Prevention Coordinator, Laura Suits joined forces to arrange information tables and activities prior to the walk this year.

“We are stronger than this rain,” said Laura Suits.  

At 6 pm, the crowd of supporters and survivors began walking down Normal Street. The crowd was covered with matching t-shirts, rain ponchos, and umbrellas, following the bright pink fire truck.

LVH-Pocono Dale and Frances Hughes Center provide a full range of cancer services including diagnostics, treatment and supportive care. The center is part of Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute, a national leader in cancer care and a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance.

Lehigh Valley’s Mobile 3D Mammogram Truck made breast examinations accessible for anyone interested.  

According to the www. cancer.net, it is estimated that 42,260 deaths (41,760 women and 500 men) from breast cancer will occur this year. 

This year’s honorary committee chair was two-time breast cancer survivor Lizzie Wheeler. Wheeler designed this year’s t-shirts, featuring a set of boxing gloves, symbolic of her battle with cancer.

“It makes everything a lot easier to see other people who have gone through and are going through it here with you,” said Lizzie Wheeler. “I’ve walked the walk and now I’m going to talk the talk.” 

ESU student groups also came to support the cause. Among the groups were, university health programs, fraternities, and sororities. Phi Beta Sigma Inc. members showed their support at the event:

“My grandmother also went through breast cancer last year. She finished her chemo and survived. I owe my respect and support to the people who are going through the same issue, and I want to help them feel like they’re not in this by themselves,” said the president of Pi Beta Chapter, Isaiah Clemens.  

The Student Nurses Association of Pennsylvania provided blood pressure screenings. Blood pressure is a great indicator of many health conditions. Abby Derstine, a senior nursing major, said breast cancer will affect a large population of the patients that futures nurses will treat.   

Supporters had a number of tables to visit. Among the group of participants were Breast Friends of Pennsylvania. Breast Friends’ mission is to ensure no woman goes through cancer alone, combating the fear and isolation of cancer. For over a decade, Breast Friends’ programs have empowered thousands with emotional support and hope.

Casting for Recovery’s table offered supporters information. Casting for Recovery provides healing outdoor retreats for women with breast cancer, at no cost to the participants. The organization’s retreats offer opportunities for women to find inspiration, discover renewed energy for life, and experience healing connections with other women and nature. 

As the honorary chair for this year’s walk, Lizzie gave a moving speech about her triumphant victory over breast cancer not once, but twice (2014 and 2018).  

“To all my pink angels fly high, and I need you all to be strong, stronger than that rock,” said Wheeler. 

Lizzie initiated the tree lighting as part of the walk’s tradition. The crabapple tree came alive with pink lights, concluding a night of empowerment.  

To learn more about testing, treatment, and care visit www.lvhn.org/locations/dale-and-frances-hughes-cancer-center or call 888-402-LVHN.

Email Charlese at:

cfreeman@live.esu.edu

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