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Stupid Cancer, a small club with big aspirations

by Sydney Sweeney, Contributor

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Being perpetually overwhelmed by college life is a given, and adding another serving of stress to an already-full plate would be difficult.

Especially if that stress disguises itself as cancer, a disease that nearly a million young adults in the U.S. have overcome. With one in 100 college students doubling as cancer survivors, the numbers reveal that many students here at San Diego State have probably come across some of these brave victors without even knowing it. After all, these young adult survivors are dealing with the same stuff that everyone else is — boring lectures, messy roommates and the irritatingly inadequate number of parking spaces on campus. Working in conjunction with the standard frustrations of student and adult life, the aftermath of cancer brings its own suitcase of dilemmas.

This is where Stupid Cancer is here to help.

The national charity and non-profit organization uniquely addresses young adult cancer through its mission of building community and improving quality of life for those affected.

Young adults are a large population of the cancer society, but they’re also the most neglected one in terms of services, diagnosis, prevention and aftermath, said Sarah Roldan, graduate student and Stupid Cancer SDSU President.

As a survivor herself, Roldan co-founded the club in 2014, making SDSU the only college in the nation to have its own on-campus Stupid Cancer community.

“We want to create a community that not only supports cancer survivors, but also lets others know that we are OK,” Roldan said. “We want to feel normal like everybody else.”

Such a statement could be skewered as egotistical, but the club’s means of accomplishing its goals are purely altruistic. Stupid Cancer supports survivors — or their friends and family — along with anyone else who’s passionate about the vision of “no survivor alone,” and looking to find solace in their own hectic lives.

On a mission to create a community of knowledge and acceptance, Stupid Cancer SDSU is eager to help with the tough school stuff, like getting around campus or dropping a class.

“(Survivors) can do everything that anyone can,” Roldan said. “But at the same time, we educate and want people to know that, ‘What happened to me can happen to you. You just need to be more aware about it.’”

This one-on-one, “you and I” interaction is a quality that distinguishes Stupid Cancer SDSU from other cancer awareness societies, and the club takes pride in getting personal. The connection between the club and its members will continue to expand next month, as four survivors will be sent to Stupid Cancer’s CancerCon, which is the leading oncology conference and social networking event for the young adult cancer movement. The conference, held in Denver, Colorado, brings together hundreds of people affected by cancer, promising that they’re not alone.

Despite Stupid Cancer SDSU’s distinction amongst other organizations, it still strives to support other groups that advocate a bright, positive future for those affected by cancer, like Camp Kesem at UC San Diego, a program that enables college students to support children whose lives have been impacted by their parent’s cancer.

Stupid Cancer’s focus emphasizes the recovery of life after cancer, but its members appreciate the fundraising and research efforts of other clubs at SDSU, like Colleges Against Cancer or Relay For Life of San Diego State, both overseen by the American Cancer Society.

“We hope that in two more years, our organization will be as established as other clubs on campus,” Roldan said.

Her positive predictions are warranted — since Stupid Cancer SDSU’s establishment, the club has already found 15 survivors. That number will surely continue to grow as the organization intends to shake the stigma of being a young adult survivor and help those victors “get busy living” again. 

For more information about Stupid Cancer SDSU, visit the club’s Facebook page, “Stupid Cancer SDSU”, follow the Twitter account @StupidCancerSD, or shoot an email over to stupicancersdsu@gmail.com.

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