At last night’s frigid Cancer Awareness Week Vigil on the
Diag, English Prof. Macklin Smith said life after cancer was like
“a time- lapse movie in real-time.”

This phrase also describes the scene at the vigil: Steam
languidly rising from surrounding buildings and shivering
onlookers’ mouths gave the gathering a somber, slow-motion
feel appropriate to its topic. Cradling candles and warm drinks, a
few dozen people showed up to hear speeches about battles with
cancer and to remember those affected by the disease.

The vigil is part of Cancer Awareness Week, sponsored and
organized by University Students Against Cancer.

Speakers at the vigil included Smith and LSA senior Aaron Viny,
who reflected on their battles with leukemia. Both Viny and Smith
shared experiences of diagnoses, treatment and their changed lives
after the disease.

The speakers also touched on how they coped with the
difficulties of cancer. Viny relied on humor to deal with the
“unbearable” chemotherapy treatments and the resulting
seclusion. The movie “Bubble Boy” — a comedy
about a boy quarantined in a plastic bubble — was a favorite
while Viny was quarantined himself. Smith wrote a book of poetry
titled “Transplant” to deal with the nagging memory of
cancer. The book was published by local bookstore Shaman Drum.

“It was as if a muse had taken up permanent residence in
my right shoulder, making me remember everything again,”
Smith said.

Though their speeches varied, both Viny and Smith urged
onlookers to register with the national bone-marrow registry and
mentioned the bone-marrow drive, taking place today in the Yuri
Kochiyma lounge of South Quad Residence Hall and tomorrow in the
Michigan Union.

LSA junior Tara Needham, whose mother died of lung cancer in
1997, was impressed with the work put into the vigil and the
week’s events. “Tonight was great, I really liked all
the performances and I’m sure the rest of the week is going
to be great,” Needham said. “I wish I had gotten
involved earlier because (cancer) has really touched my life
personally.”

Cancer Awareness Week is “a week jam-packed with
everything USAC tries to do throughout the year,” USAC
organizer Jen Larkin said. The week is about awareness — not
only of cancer but also of USAC and the enjoyment its members
receive in exchange for their hard work. “We want to show
that you can still have fun and make a change and help someone else
out,” Larkin said.

The week’s events kicked off Saturday with a Necto bar
night, which Larkin said was a big success. All of the proceeds
— about $1,000 — went to charities such as the Coach
Carr Cancer Fund at the Comprehensive Cancer Center and Special
Days Camp, a charity set up to give kids with lukemia to have a
traditional, overnight summer-camp experience without jeopardizing
their health.

Other events included a “Diag Day,” where USAC
members passed out information on the prevention and warning signs
of cancer and an exhibit of art made by people affected by cancer,
which is still on display in the Union.

Upcoming events include a band night at The Blind Pig tonight
and the bone marrow drive today and tomorrow. The week wraps up
tomorrow night with a fashion show at the Union Ballroom.

USAC, an organization that aims to promote cancer awareness on
campus, also holds events all year. USAC members volunteer in the
community and raise money for cancer-related charities.

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