Pink and Proud
Students Bring Together Speakers, Break Bread for Breast Cancer Education and Awareness
Skydiving, traveling around the world, mountain climbing – no, this isn’t the lead to an action movie. This is the life of 13-year breast cancer survivor Nan Wright who spoke at the 12th Annual Silk Rose Jubilee hosted by the University of Houston College of Pharmacy chapters of the Kappa Epsilon (KE) Pharmacy Fraternity and the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) Oct. 30. The event takes place each October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
An avid skier and lover of the outdoors, Wright was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer during a routine mammogram, which is why she is an advocate for routine breast exams. Wright acknowledged that many women are fearful of screenings.
“You should be afraid of cancer, not mammograms,” Wright said.
Wright’s daughter, Abby Wright, Pharm.D. (’20), is an alumna of both UHCOP and KE and is a guiding force behind Wright speaking at the Silk Rose Jubilee year after year.
“Every year she says, ‘Mom! You have to go,’” Wright said. “And I know she’s right. I’m grateful everyday to be alive and I’m here to help as many people as possible in as many ways as possible.”
Following Wright’s speech was Erika N. Brown, M.S., Pharm.D., senior hematology/oncology clinical pharmacy specialist at Houston Methodist Hospital. Brown, who has treated breast cancer patients between the ages of 18 and 100, educated students on advancements in research and treatment. She also emphasized the importance of pharmacist-patient relationships during breast cancer treatment and beyond.
“Pharmacists can help patients better understand their medications, and the exact mechanisms at work, in terms the patient can understand,” Brown said. “Pharmacists can help patients be aware of side effects they may experience and how to navigate those side effects.”
When undergoing treatment, Wright was experiencing a side effect and she talked to her pharmacist about it.
“My pharmacist advised me on one small change I could make when taking the medication, and the side effect went away,” Wright said.
Helping students understand the human aspect of breast cancer is the purpose of this event, according to Kappa Epsilon President Kiran Wazir.
“As health care workers, we often forget there is patient emotion behind disease,” Wazir said. “We also want to showcase how much breast cancer research has been done and for students to be aware of what treatments exist.”
Originally a KE-hosted event, the organization joined forces with APhA-ASP to complement their dual reproductive health initiatives. All proceeds from the event went to The Rose, an organization which provides access to breast screening, diagnostic and treatment services to any woman regardless of her ability to pay.