On Thursday September 29, 2022, Vanguard University’s History and Political Science department held a Childhood Cancer Awareness Event where speakers from different non-profit cancer organizations spoke about their testimonies and involvement with the fight for cancer, followed by a section for student testimonies.
Dr. Eunice Kang, an Assistant Professor of Political Science, organized the event with a group of History and Political Science students. They were able to get representatives from Donovan’s SMILE, Make a Wish Foundation, American Cancer Society, and the Cancer Action Network.
Laurie Mejia is the co-founder of Donovan’s SMILE. This foundation was founded after she lost her youngest son Donovan Justice to a brain tumor at 4 years old. This foundation supports pediatric cancer patients while they’re in treatment. This can include parties, supplying school supplies at the beginning of a school year, bringing the Easter Bunny in, and so much more. She wants to advocate with passionate conviction to raise awareness and support children fighting cancer.
Priyanka Kantamneni is a representative from the Orange County and Inland Empire Make A Wish chapter. Her daughter was a receiver of a wish from the Make A Wish Foundation when she was only 4 years old. This foundation’s goal is to give hope within the hopeless. Their goal is to provide a little bit of happiness to both the children and the families.
Nathan Kang became involved in the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network when his mother was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer in 2019. The Cancer Action Network raises funds to support legislative action by influencing local, state, and federal politicians of all parties.
Dr. John Schmitt helped start the Relay of Life event in the city of Torrance for the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life is an event where teams walk around a track for 24 hours and raise funds for the American Cancer Society. In 22 years, the Torrance Relay has raised over $3.5 million for cancer research and patient care. Dr. Schmitt also works closely with Kang.
Each of these representatives spoke about their own journey with cancer, whether one of their children, or even their own mother, had been affected by the disease. Each of their testimonies and foundations are powerful and create an impact on the cancer community.
After all four speakers spoke, there was an opportunity for students to go to the front and share their own testimonies. Many students got up to speak. Some spoke of their grandparents who had died of cancer and many of those students gave the word of advice to cherish the time they have with the people they care about.
There was one student who had spoken of her own fear of battling cancer earlier this year. Although she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease instead, there was still a fear and process she went through during her diagnosis that created a powerful testimony. In that testimony was a call to action: support these foundations and pray blessings over those children and families dealing with that terrifying experience.
Nathan Kang closed the group out in prayer. He prayed that those who were affected be graced with healing and that those in the audience were impacted enough by the event to do something about the lack of awareness for childhood cancer.