New organization, Colleges Against Cancer, hosts Relay For Life

UALR gained the newest Colleges Against Cancer chapter in the nation at the beginning of spring semester.

The chapter is composed of a core group of students that has been touched by cancer, either in the form of having had cancer themselves, or knowing someone who has.

collegesagainstcancerThe organization, affiliated with the American Cancer Society, sponsors anti-cancer programming on campus and enables those who have been impacted by cancer to have a way to fight back, as well as celebrate those they love who have survived and remember those they have lost.

A major focus of the chapter’s efforts will be the UALR Relay for Life which will be hosted this year by Colleges Against Cancer Thursday, April 30, from 6 p.m. to midnight in the Donaghey Student Center Fitness Center.

Faculty, students, and staff are invited to form teams to help raise funds for the fight against cancer or attend the event.

There will be entertainment, food, and several ceremonies designed to allow participants to remember those they’ve lost to cancer and celebrate those who have survived it.

Jamie Byrne, Cancer Society 2
Dr. Jamie Byrne-McCollum, who lost her husband to cancer, is now advisor to the new Colleges Against Cancer group.

The event will open with a survivors’ lap to honor cancer survivors. Later in the evening, there will be a caregiver’s lap to honor those who have served someone going through a cancer journey, ending with a luminaria ceremony dedicated to those lost to cancer and those who have survived it.

More about Colleges Against Cancer and Relay for Life

The UALR Relay for Life is one of more than 500 Relay For Life events that will take place on college and university campuses around the nation this year.

Both Colleges Against Cancer and Relay For Life are part of the American Cancer Society, and funds raised go to support the work of the ACS.

“This event is important because it gives those of us who have been touched by cancer a way to fight back, a way to give back, and a way to take a stand that hopefully will make it so that our children and our children’s children will never have to hear the words ‘You have cancer,’” said Dr. Jamie Byrne-McCollum, mass communications professor and advisor to the new Colleges Against Cancer group.

Byrne-McCollum lost her husband to stage-four colorectal cancer at the age of 50 in 2010. She has also lost an aunt, father, and 23-year-old sister-in-law to various types of cancer.

The CAC advisor has been an American Cancer Society volunteer on local, regional, national, and international levels for years, long before she ever knew that cancer would affect her so directly. She also serves as the chair of the Hope Ambassadors, a local community leadership council for the Central Arkansas branch of the American Cancer Society.

“I am excited about the CAC chapter and the campus Relay For Life to give the campus community an opportunity to fight back, celebrate, and remember,” said Byrne-McCollum.

The CAC students are a major part of campus initiative, including chair and CAC president Markeyah Wilson, a cancer survivor who was diagnosed in 1999 with a Wilms tumor.

The cancer originated in her lungs and spread to her right kidney, which had to be removed. “I was very, very close to dying,” she said.

“I wanted to participate in Colleges Against Cancer because it allowed me to have more opportunities to get involved and get other students more involved with our community,” said Wilson.

“I believe that almost everyone is affected in some way by cancer, whether it was a relative, friend, or next door neighbor,” she added. “I look forward to a time where contracting cancer isn’t devastating news or causes grief for one’s family. That’s what I’m fighting for.”

CAC is a nationwide collaboration of college students, faculty, and staff dedicated to eliminating cancer by working to implement the programs and mission of the American Cancer Society.

With more that 450 chapters nationwide, CAC chapters focus their efforts on four strategic directions – advocacy, cancer education, Relay For Life, and survivorship.

For questions about joining CAC or participating in the event, contact Markeyah Wilson at 870.714.9154.