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Breast cancer awareness day at Humber

Ken Kellar
Arts & Entertainment reporter

David Mitchell lives by his motto.

“Our challenges don’t define us, our actions do.”

Mitchell doesn’t take credit for being the first person to say it, but he does take credit for organizing the Pink Ribbon Day for breast cancer at Humber North’s Learning Resources Centre on Oct. 26.

“It was a last minute kind of thing,” said Mitchell, a Humber math professor whose wife was recently diagnosed with the disease. “No one else was doing it, and I thought ‘Someone’s gotta do it,’ so I took it on.”

The event ran from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the LRC lobby and was held in order to unite staff and students to commemorate hope, survival and awareness for breast cancer.

Mitchell said the day was part of a campaign called “We Are Hope” that had begun using the hashtag “#wearehope” in order to help raise awareness against breast cancer.

In the LRC lobby, tables were set up to sell drinks and snacks, as well as pink paper ribbons to write the names of those affected by breast cancer or inspirational messages of support for those fighting the disease. These ribbons were then stuck to the columns in the lobby to create the Wall of Hope.

Mitchell praised the effort undertaken by the Humber community in holding the event on short notice. He reached out to as many different departments as he could in the days leading up to the event, hoping that some would be able to volunteer.

The response was emphatic.

“At least half the college (took part) and they’re all doing something,” Mitchell said. “Some stuff is in the background, like marketing. They’re helping out with Twitter and Instagram, just you name it.”

Volunteers from Humber’s Spa Management program were also on hand to clean up Humber’s nails and give them a fresh coat of – pink – polish.

Althea Phillips, a second-year Spa Management student, was one of thosee volunteers.

She said while the event was good practice, she also volunteered to support a friend’s mother who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I’ve seen how it affected her, it made me want to do something to help,” Phillips said.

Mitchell said the inspiration for the event came from his wife’s situation.

“It was about a year ago, at one of these kinds of awareness things during breast cancer awareness month, that my wife was reminded, ‘Oh yeah, I better go and get my yearly mammogram,’ and this time they found three tumours, and when they went in there were six more,” he said.

Mitchell said although the tumours hadn’t spread to her lymph nodes, the following year was “pain, suffering and full of uncertainty, and I don’t want any women to go through that ever,” he said.

Tanzina Islam, the Health Promotion Coordinator at Humber, was at the event to speak with students about some of the facts and statistics behind breast cancer. She also had a table set up to distribute pamphlets on proper self-check techniques while a video showed a number of well-built male models demonstrating those techniques.

“As a college community we want to promote awareness of the issue,” Islam said. “As well as how to prevent it and why it’s important to screen and different ways of prevention.”

According to Islam and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, 25,000 women and 220 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, with 5,000 of those women and 60 of the men succumbing to the disease.

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