“Pink Week makes talking about boobs easy,” says Wendi Lowe.
It’s not sexual. It’s not weird. It’s a way to broach an uncomfortable subject — breast cancer.
This is the fifth year Lowe, an Amherst Steele High School science teacher, has shared with students her story of surviving the disease.
Through the past week, teens wore pink to raise awareness of breast cancer. “You talk to them and they get the seriousness of it. They also understand it’s a week to have fun,” Lowe said. “The fact they’re thinking about it and taking it seriously is good.”
Perhaps most importantly, freshmen girls learned how to do self-exams to check for abnormalities.
The need is real: One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and that means roughly 81 Amherst girls will be diagnosed at some points in their lives and 13 will likely die.
Senior Dana Swift, a defensive middle fielder on the Comets soccer team and a medical technology student, helped teach ninth-graders this year.
“They were really awkward about it at first but I think I helped them get comfortable. I remember feeling that way too,” she said.
Wearing a pink float tube around her waist, Swift was one of many students Friday who donned the color to raise awareness at the high school.
Those who took up the cause weren’t only girls — in true Steele fashion, the boys were just as eager to help. “Honestly, the thing that’s sunk in the most for me is how many boys get breast cancer as well,” Swift said.
Lowe said the annual Pink Week push has opened students’ eyes to the threat the disease poses.
“I had a girl come to me and say, ‘I have a lump,’” Lowe told the News-Times.” It had been there about a year and is likely the result of a sports injury but the teacher counseled her student to seek a physician’s advice.
The week also helped raise money for breast cancer causes. The amount is likely to surpass $3,000 from Pink Week T-shirt sales, girls soccer fundraisers, Quarterback Club program sales, and the purchase of pink socks by Comets football players to wear at Friday’s game. Brew Kettle owner Chris Russo also held dine-to-donate events to pitch in.
More than $16,000 has been donated in the past five years.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Photos by Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Amherst Comets soccer players, wearing their pink jerseys, also make themselves up in funky pink hairdos, glasses, boas, and tiaras Friday during the lunch hour in support of breast cancer awareness.