NMSU group promotes cancer awareness

Kristina Medley

NMSU

Members of a new organization at New Mexico State University are focusing on a disease that impacts millions of people each year and are hoping to make a difference both locally and internationally.

Voice Against Cancer was established at NMSU in spring 2011. The purpose of the group is to advocate for cancer prevention and awareness, to partner with local organizations and to raise funds for projects in support of cancer patients, survivors and their families.

“One of the main goals of the organization is to provide an opportunity for NMSU students to lead, volunteer and network to help fight battles against cancer at NMSU and in the greater Las Cruces and El Paso area,” said Kiran Sapkota, founder and president of VAC at NMSU.

VAC is also branching out to promote cancer awareness internationally. The organization partnered with District Hospital in Nepal to screen 1,000 women for cervical cancer, which is the most common cancer among women ages 15 to 44 in Nepal. VAC is working to raise an additional $5,000 for the project.

“Western Nepal is one of the most remote areas of Nepal, surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains. Health care and medication delivery in this area is very challenging, and many people come to the hospital with late stages of cancer,” Sapkota said. “Hence, we thought this project, launched from NMSU, would be a great cause to help others and to help reduce the burden of cancer in a foreign country.”

Members of VAC at NMSU also have volunteered at Southern New Mexico Cancer Resource Center, Mesilla Valley Hospice and have participated in Associated Students of NMSU volunteer events. VAC members also promote cancer awareness each month by hosting information tables for NMSU students.
“Many local organizations have been impressed that young people are getting involved and are volunteering to support this cause on campus and in the community,” Sapkota said. “It is important for college students to get involved in community service organizations. It promotes leadership skills and gives them an opportunity to help others.”

The NMSU VAC has already worked with the American Cancer Society Cancer Resource Center and Prostate Cancer Support Group of Las Cruces, the Mesilla Valley Rotary Club and has participated in Cancer Survivors Day at Memorial Hospital, the Health Expo at the Las Cruces Convention Center and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. The organization plans to participate in more outreach events this semester, including Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, and is planning skin cancer awareness and screenings for NMSU students.

“Our students are very committed, and I support their excellent efforts,” said Cynthia Kratzke, NMSU professor and VAC adviser.

VAC is officially certified as a President’s Volunteer Service program. Students who meet the required amount of volunteer hours can receive an official President’s Volunteer Service Award lapel pin, a personalized certificate of achievement and a congratulatory letter from the president of the United States.

VAC meets at 5 p.m. every second Friday of the month at Corbett Center at NMSU. For more information or to get involved, email 4cancer@nmsu.edu, or visit the organization’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/voiceagainstcancer.nmsu.

 

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