Let me tell you a little about my grandmother. Joyce Gach is one of the strongest, kindest people I know. She helps anyone without a moment’s hesitation and always gives all she has if it means someone she cares about will benefit. Since I was very young, she helped take care of me and was an irreplaceable part of my childhood. I used to call her “Mom” because she was with me so often, and, for this and so many other things, she has my eternal gratitude and respect. Truly, my grandma is my hero.

In May of 1994, my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was too young at the time to understand what this meant or appreciate the struggle she would have to go through. Thankfully, after surgery and radiation, the disease was removed from her body. However, after seven years of having cancer lurk in the back of her mind, doctors found it again in the fall of 2001. Again, against the odds, my grandma beat cancer and has been living cancer-free for nine years.

Her story is like so many others, but many aren’t as lucky to have beaten cancer twice in their lifetime. Approximately 12.6 percent of women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and, contrary to popular belief, men can develop breast cancer as well. With around 200,000 new cases each year, breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in cancer-associated deaths. 40,000 deaths annually are associated with this cancer and the vast majority of these victims are women.

Upon diagnosis of breast cancer, there are currently many treatments offered, ensuring that it’s not a death sentence. From surgery to chemotherapy to hormonal therapies, there are many ways that a person can fight cancer and live a healthy, normal life. More important than anything, however, is early discovery of the cancer. This early detection is key, and when breast cancer is discovered in its earliest stage, 95 percent of people experience a five-year survival rate. Every woman, regardless of age, owes it to herself and those who care for her to get checked each year for breast cancer.

This summer, to play my part in finding the cure for breast cancer, I walked in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Detroit. I walked one mile alongside 30,000 other like-minded individuals and survivors in hope that this disease that destroys people’s lives and entire families is eradicated. I walked in celebration of my grandma’s many achievements and in memory of the millions that have died from this disease. Countless teams of pink-clad walkers and runners filled Woodward Avenue and showed their dedication to fighting cancer. Not even the rain could wash away the jubilant spirits of the crowd or dampen the hopes each participant carried.

Imagine your grandmas, your moms and your sisters. Imagine getting the call saying that the person you care most about has been diagnosed with one of the deadliest diseases of our time. It’s our duty as the future leaders of the world to do our part in educating others and fighting cancer.

And there’s so much you can do. The Susan G. Komen Foundation is dedicated to educating people about breast cancer and researching a cure. You can help this cause by donating, participating in an event like Race for the Cure or doing personal fundraising through their Passionately Pink for the Cure organization. It’s our responsibility to pop our college bubble and see the bigger picture. Finding a cure and fighting for the ones we love is the noblest thing we can do — whether we raise thousands of dollars from others or donate one dollar ourselves to a foundation, every little bit counts.

This year I walked a mile. Next year I plan to run the 5K race in support of the Komen Foundation. I know the importance of standing up for what I believe in and fighting for what I know is right. I hope that everyone who reads this article will do their own personal work to fight breast cancer or support a cause they feel strongly for. I will walk for support, race for the cure and fight for my hero, my grandma.

Matthew Shutler is an LSA junior.

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