Madison Waun has felt the effects of cancer — not as a survivor, but through her family’s loss.
“Of my entire family on my dad’s side, no one has survived past the age of 50 because of cancer,” said Waun, an economics senior and co-president of Colleges Against Cancer.
Previously known as Relay for Life, Colleges Against Cancer is a rebranded organization at UT, and its main goal is to fundraise for the American Cancer Society, a national health organization committed to eliminating cancer. Waun and co-president Kylie Tran, a senior biochemistry major, are working to rebuild the organization by encouraging students to volunteer for ACS.
Many of the current organization’s student volunteers discovered the program through student organizations.
“We want to bring the energy back,” Tran said. “This year we’re more about advocacy on campus.”
Currently, UT does not have any registered organizations that provide both fundraising opportunities and community support for survivorship. Waun said she wants this organization to serve as a space where survivors can feel comfortable.
Colleges Against Cancer is currently organizing fundraising opportunities on campus, such as selling purple grilled cheese sandwiches — purple is the American Cancer Society’s color to represent every type of cancer. In addition to fundraising events, the organization aims to create a supportive community for students at UT.
Waun also said while many people on campus are affected by the effects of cancer in some capacity, finding survivors on campus has been especially hard because people are reluctant to speak out. The organization aims to represent these people, Waun said.
“We want to be a voice of representation of the people on campus that have been affected,” Waun said. “American Cancer Society is everyone.”
The organization is open to all students, faculty and staff. Their first meeting was held Wednesday and roughly 12 people attended.
For math freshman Sloan Goldman, getting involved was a no-brainer, given her experience battling the disease. Goldman has been in remission for one year and wants to help others by being more open about her story.
“I have been trying to get more involved in cancer-central things because I’m actually a cancer survivor,” Goldman said. “I used to be really embarrassed about it, but coming to school I’ve been trying to open up.”