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Homecoming Week: Campus Ministry hotspot combines praise, breast cancer awareness

LA Warren NUByline2018

JSU Campus Ministry hosted a praise and prayer hotspot on the Gibbs-Green Memorial Plaza on Tuesday that highlighted Homecoming Week and Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Rev. Maxine Bolden, campus minister and director of the Wesley Foundation, said that since the community can’t get enough of God, the ministry decided to “combine praise, prayer and public awareness.”

Specifically, Bolden said, “We not only want to encourage people and get them hyped for the Homecoming Week festivities, but we also want to raise awareness about breast cancer.” She indicated that many young people are not aware of their breast health even though statistics show that “our young people are more likely to develop a severe cancer experience.” She mostly blames a lack of information.

In addition, she said, “Women are not encouraged to have breast cancer mammograms until they’re 40, but we have a large occurrence of breast cancer events in younger women.” So, Bolden is using the hotspot to make sure students have access to information and to individuals who can share details with them.

The ministry invited people on campus to distribute information from the American Cancer Society. Some distributors have experienced a loved one with the disease or battled breast cancer themselves.

Meanwhile, a student who could be dubbed a “miracle child” explained her family’s experience with breast cancer.

Terrian Johnson, a freshman computer science major from Memphis, said she wasn’t supposed to be born because her mom, with cervical cancer, was told she could not have any children. However, the birth occurred anyway.

Terrian Johnson, a freshman computer science major from Memphis, could be dubbed a “miracle child.” She said she wasn’t supposed to be born because her mother was told she could not have any children because of cancer. (Photo by Aron Smith/JSU)

Terrian Johnson, a freshman computer science major from Memphis, could be dubbed a “miracle child.” She said she wasn’t supposed to be born because her mother was told she could not have any children because of cancer. (Photo by Aron Smith/JSU)

In addition to her mom’s cervical cancer, Johnson said her mother had endured breast cancer that returned after Terrian was born. She said she feels blessed that her mother’s breast cancer has been in remission for the past 15 years.

As it relates to her own health, Terrian said, “Since I’ve been 18 (she’s now 19), I get checked every month or every three months and every time I visit my doctor because breast cancer runs in my family. I had an aunt who died from it, and a grandmother who had a double mastectomy. So, breast cancer awareness means a lot to me because my family is going through the issue, and I just love the fact that y’all are informing people about breast cancer. Many folks do not know about it.”

Watley

Watley

Sylvia Watley, a part-time JSU employee in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies, was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2017. She partnered with Bolden to encourage others to observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month and “make sure people feel supported like I was.”

Watley gathered information from the American Cancer Society. She thanked Bolden for praying for survivors and affected families and urged remembrance of those who have succumbed to breast cancer.

“Mainly, we just want to increase awareness and touch base with students. In talking to the students who have visited our table a lot of them know someone with breast cancer or had breast cancer – whether it’s an aunt or mother or sister. In some way, they’ve been affected by it and know a little about it – some more than others.”

Watley said a young man approached her table and asked her to explain breast cancer and how it develops.

“I took this as an opportunity to try to give him a little information from my personal perspective in that it can happen to anybody. It’s not something that you do. You don’t necessarily have to have a certain lifestyle to get breast cancer, and you really don’t have to be a certain age. I also told him that because I have a daughter and have been surviving breast cancer for a year I’m even more concerned about her and young people like her.”

Watley bemoans that her daughter is at risk of developing breast cancer. “I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.  At this point I am cancer-free as of last Friday, which was six months after I finished chemo. I am just so thankful to be here, and I’m committed to doing whatever I can to increase awareness,” she said.