Laughter, jokes and charades filled the WSU Sigma Kappa sorority Sunday night as the Check Your Boobies (CYB) organization held an educational breast cancer awareness party.
“You hear the word cancer and you think death,” said Debra Minkove, a breast cancer survivor and speaker for the party. “I am here with Check Your Boobies because I want to put a face to cancer and let people know that I am stronger and better than ever.”
The WSU chapters for Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Sigma Kappa sorority co-hosted the informal and relaxed CYB party for their members. CYB, a Seattle based nonprofit group, created the parties to educate attendees on how to do breast self-examinations and how to approach breast cancer.
Minkove said she learned she had breast cancer at age 31. She said the disease was not in her family history and wants both men and women to learn to check now.
Thomas Hammett, the Sigma Phi Epsilon president, said Kayla Driscoll, the college outreach coordinator from CYB, contacted the fraternity about hosting an event. He said CYB paid for shirts for the event, but the fraternity decided to take the money raised from shirt sales and put it toward their fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
“Every year for the past two years we’ve done Relay for Life for (Sigma Phi Epsilon’s) philanthropy,” Hammett said.
Last year the fraternity sold shirts for about $4 and this year they are selling them for about $8, Hammett said. They hope to raise between $1,500 to $2,000 for the American Cancer Society this year, he said.
“We always try to raise money on Mom’s Weekend,” Hammett said. “This year is going to be really big and Check Your Boobies is going to help out a lot.”
Hammett said the CYB event helped preview Relay for Life and teach the fraternity members to be aware of breast cancer and other cancers in people they love. He said the CYB event was really cool for both fraternity and sorority members.
“We get caught up in school here and sometimes we forget about helping out so I think this event will definitely help,” Hammett said.
Bridget Barry, the vice president of philanthropic service for Sigma Kappa, said Sigma Phi Epsilon approached the sorority about co-hosting. Having hosted a party in November, she said she knew the party would be helpful and informative.
“I think the parties are awesome,” Barry said. “They are more on a personal level and are really funny.”
Driscoll said since the organization last held parties at WSU in November, the outreach has expanded to universities in Arizona, Massachusetts, California and Oregon. She said the outreach program has started to get requests for educational parties from universities they have previously visited.
“What we are trying to do right now is lay down a foundation so that the following semesters we get requests directly from the school,” Driscoll said. “We just started a San Francisco chapter.”
Driscoll said the subject of breast cancer or cancer in general is often hard for people to discuss. She said the goal of the program and parties is to be educational, but in a fun way and environment that people enjoy learning in.
“Women or men sometimes stick around and ask questions after the parties,” Driscoll said. “That is the best part, when we are able to make those personal connections and are able to help people on that level.”
CYB will host four parties this week with groups including the WSU Spokane nursing program, the Gamma Phi Beta sorority and the University of Idaho.