Speaking out about the passing of a loved one is a form of healing and growth. Yvline Tanis, junior and vice president of the Haitian American Student Association, decided to break her silence this semester and speak out about the cancer that took her mother’s life three years ago.
And not only is she speaking out, she is taking action.
Motivated by Tanis’s experience and strength, H.A.S.A. takes on ovarian cancer for their first annual community service initiative. The Turn The Towns Teal: Campus Edition is raising awareness on the Syracuse University campus about ovarian cancer and how students can help. “I saw an ovarian cancer boutique at the state fair and it was the first time I saw anything about it. I knew the organization [H.A.S.A.] was looking for a subject for community service, and thought ovarian cancer would be a good idea,” says Tanis.
Turn The Towns Teal is a two-week-long awareness campaign from September 16-30. Each day, the SU community can go to Shine Student Center, make a two dollar donation, and decorate their own teal ribbon flag in support of the campaign. The decorated flags will then be placed around campus.
In addition to student and faculty donations, H.A.S.A. called on other student organizations to make donations of $25 or more by September 24. On Wednesday, the top five organizations received personalized ribbons that were placed on trees around the quad to honor their support and fundraising.
“It’s always scary to do a new campaign and ask for monetary contributions, but for the most part we have gotten a lot of help,” said Quameiha Raymond-Ducheine, a sophomore and public relations director for the organization.
Other ways the organization will be raising awareness for ovarian cancer include chalking the quad’s sidewalks with ovarian cancer statistics, and placing white flags on the the grassy knoll (the grassy area as you walk up from Marshall street and toward the Hall of Languages).
The event will close on September 30 with “OVARcome the Silence,” a forum that invites students, faculty, and the community to hear facts and personal stories about the illness from H.A.S.A. and its two guest speakers.
The emotional connection that H.A.S.A. has to the campaign shows through their diligence and hard work in putting these events together.
“We are grateful Yvline is using her mother’s memory to help people become aware and save lives,” said Flose Boursiquot, a senior and president of H.A.S.A.
The low publicity ovarian cancer receives – thus labeling it “the silent killer” – was not a negative for the organization. On the contrary, it added an element of surprise and curiosity when informing donors of “the silent killer” and how they could help.
Although ovarian cancer effects 1 in 72 women, the symptoms often go undetected. The cancer often results in death or a five-year life expectancy, according to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. As estimated by the American Cancer Society, in 2013 about 22,240 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 14,003 will die of the illness.
For more information, find H.A.S.A on Facebook.
HASA is a student run organization that has been active on campus for nine years. HASA’s goal is to be proactive in both SU and the community on celebrating culture perspectives while simultaneously embracing Haitian culture and other cultures on campus as well.