Jackson State University hosted a celebratory “Pink Out” party for employees on Wednesday, Oct. 19, highlighting JSU’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month initiative during the university’s homecoming week of events.
Pamela Banks, Ph.D., department chair and professor of psychology, said she was impressed and equally joyful at JSU, utilizing the energy around homecoming to check in with employees’ physical, emotional, and mental health.
“The importance of today for me is that JSU is exhibiting commitment to improving health among men and women, not just the students, but also the entire community,” said Banks. “Dedicating time out of this exciting week to emphasizing health and wellness is one of the best things we can do because education about breast cancer and cancer, in general, is very important.”
For the event, faculty, staff, and student survivors were selected to share personal accounts of their triumphs over cancer to aid in producing a limited storytelling series, “Stories of Hope,” showcased at the event.
“This day is rewarding for me because you truly never know what people go through, and to find out that some of my colleagues are survivors, they share a similar journey as me,” saidShanice White, director of JSU’s Latasha Norman Center for Counseling Services. “To be able to celebrate this milestone with them and say, you’re strong, and you’re beautiful, and that no matter what our journeys make look like, good, bad, and the ugly, we are strong, and we are survivors.”
Upon learning of one’s diagnosis, the sudden news can feel deafening and isolating for many people. Some described the moment as ‘the kiss of death, which speaks to an anxious feeling surrounding mortality and creates a bleak outlook on one’s possibility to overcome adversity.
For many survivors, the mental and physical toll taken almost immediately upon diagnosis can become a lighter load to bear when one is fortified by a robust support system.
Monica Donaldson, a paralegal in JSU’s Legal Department, was diagnosed with breast cancer in Sept. 2020. She praised the power of therapeutic support and attentively listening to one’s physical cues despite the apprehensiveness to seek medical care for more information.
Donaldson is now in remission, which she credits partly to the unwavering bond built through a community of overcomers.
“This is something that touches everybody’s lives in a different way, and while our journeys may somewhat be different, we have connection, sisterhood, and we get through it together,” she said.