Panel discusses breast cancer awareness

April Cambero
Staff Writer

Students and interfaith fellows gathered to discuss well-being while honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Monday afternoon in the Ludwick Center Sacred Space.

Roughly 30 listened to the panel of Interfaith fellows Cherie Atalor, sophomore computer science major; Nadeen Mohammed, senior biology major; and Melissa Santana, senior sociology major. The fellows talked about their spirituality and the impact it had on their lives, all while they recounted personal stories and experiences with breast cancer.

 A line of hungry students formed at the food and refreshments table. Leaves from the trees rustled above several tables where students were ready to listen to the composed panel. A sense of peacefulness loomed over the event as the fellows began to speak.

“When I think of wellness, it’s mind, body and spirit,” Mohammed said.

Atalor, Mohammed and Santana discussed how they used spirituality in their everyday lives through prayer, meditation and reading,  and they talked about what it all means to them. 

The Interfaith fellows are a group of students from different backgrounds, cultures and spiritualities. They come together to create a safe space for students of any background to discuss their beliefs and create a community.

“That sense of community felt really strong, and I felt safe in that space,” Santana said.

The topic of the day, breast cancer awareness, created a vulnerable moment for the students and fellows. They talked about personal experiences with breast cancer and how it affected their well-being. 

“I try not to undermine my feelings,” Atalor said.

Atalor discussed how she lost her aunt to breast cancer and quickly tried to settle back into life after. But by not allowing time for self care after losing her loved one, she was not thinking about her overall wellness. 

Santana talked about her connection to breast cancer and how that affected her overall well-being. She experienced losing a loved one from breast cancer and mentioned how she used her spirituality to cope with her mental health and wellness.

The panel mentioned the importance of mental health and how to handle your own well-being during difficult times. From meditation to community to professional help, the panel discussed different ways to support your well-being.

“It was really hard to listen to, but it was nice to hear their stories,” Emmaline Torres, sophomore biology major, said.

Students were introduced to the notion of Interfaith and the vulnerability and community that they offered. Although the event was vulnerable, the energy and amount of respect was obvious due to the personal experiences told by the panel.

Students were able to relate to the panel and their personal experiences. From each story or piece of advice told by the panel, students took pieces from them and applied them to their own lives. 

“I resonated with one of the speakers saying how in her culture feelings are very suppressed at times,” said Vanessa Orozco, sophomore biology major.

Students were moved by the stories told by the panel. Although not everyone has experienced losing someone to an illness like breast cancer, everyone has a special connection to someone in their lives that they would hate to see go through an experience like that.

“I haven’t had a family pass away yet, but I was trying to relate to how that feels because one of the students talked about how her grandma passed away and I am very close to my grandma,” Torres said.

April Cambero can be reached at april.cambero@laverne.edu.  

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