Students raise money for cancer awareness

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Civil engineering senior Christine Fuentes said she has experienced breast cancer through a family friend who was diagnosed with the disease in 2006.

Fuentes and about 20 students danced to hip-hop and electronica music Wednesday on the Main Mall at a dance-a-thon hosted by Sigma Lambda Gamma.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure raises money and awareness to fight breast cancer and support survivors of the disease. According to its website, the Dallas-based international organization has invested nearly $1.5 billion for breast cancer research and prevention and treatment programs since it was created in 1982.

Fuentes said her friend, who is like a sister to her, went through chemotherapy and three years of surgeries during her treatments. She said the cancer spread and part of her lung had to be removed, but the cancer has now been in remission since 2009.

“Being with her, it’s like I’m experiencing [breast cancer] emotionally, too,” Fuentes said. “It’s hard to be strong emotionally for her and also help her be strong.”

Hillary Martinez, an undeclared sophomore who organized the event, said the foundation is the sorority’s national philanthropy, which means the sorority’s main community service goal is to support breast cancer awareness and prevention.

Fuentes said she knew about Sigma Lambda Gamma’s commitment to the foundation and the breast cancer cause when she joined the sorority in June of 2008. Her friend was still undergoing treatment for her cancer at the time, and she said joining the sorority helped her emotionally.

“It’s really heartwarming, because when I joined the sorority I knew I joined an organization that would always support the cause,” Fuentes said. “Coming to an event like this, it makes me proud.”

Christine DeSoto, the sorority’s vice president for marketing, said Sigma Lambda Gamma will try to try to host the event again every October.

“We are all ambitious, intelligent women and we will continue to host events with a purpose that help our community — events like this one,” she said.

Three-quarters of the money raised by the run will support programs around Austin, such as the Seton Cancer Care Outreach Programs, which provide low-income and under served women with mammograms, exams and breast health education services. The rest goes to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.