October was Breast Cancer Awareness month, and if you walked through the library at all you probably noticed the strings of origami cranes hanging in the west side of the lobby. The original cranes were folded by Commonwealth Honors College students two years ago. I was one of the crane folders my freshman year when Dean Clarkson suggested the project to the Student Advisory Board.
The idea of the project is based on the Japanese legend that the folder of one thousand cranes will be granted a wish, usually long life or recovery from illness. We folded the cranes as a group to raise breast cancer awareness. They are strung with eight cranes to each string, and the bottom crane of each strand is pink to represent the one in eight women who will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.
In the past two years the cranes have been hung in the honors college lounge in Goodell and the atrium of Whitmore Administration Building. This year they hung in the W.E.B. DuBois Library so that more students would see them.
I saw the cranes on my many trips through the library, which induced some pretty great nostalgia about my fairly insignificant role in crane folding (I folded approximately ten of the saddest looking cranes around - precise paper folding is not my forte) and the fun that we had at all the crane folding gatherings. The cranes reminded me that, oh yes, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Soon pink popped up everywhere - on retail shelves and on NFL players - not just hanging in the library at UMass. Now that October has passed and the cranes are gone, where does that leave us? As far as the goal of an awareness month is to make the public aware of an issue, I was certainly made to think about breast cancer and its prevalence. However, October came and went in a flurry of midterms and papers, and though each trip through W.E.B. DuBois made me more aware, I managed to make it through the month without ever taking any kind of action.
Although there is no guaranteed cure for cancer, early detection greatly increases a woman’s chance of survival after diagnosis. Encourage your female friends and relatives to visit this page of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure website for information about scheduling screenings and reminders, and if you are forty years or older, remember to schedule your own screenings. All women should become accustomed to the way their own breasts normally look and feel so that they might more easily notice changes. Put your money where your awareness is and donate to or purchase the pink products of organizations which use the donations they receive effectively. Learn more about cancer by taking Microbiology Professor Wilmore Webley’s biology general education class, the Biology of Cancer and AIDS. The fight against breast cancer - and all cancer for that matter - doesn’t end when the pink cranes get packed up for the year, but it is a good time for us to get involved once we’ve become aware.