Students in Ellen Broom’s psychology classes will earn extra credit for showing school spirit and supporting for breast cancer if they wear a pink or purple shirt on Friday.
Broom, a breast cancer survivor, will give participating students in her classes a free activity grade for supporting Frogs for the Cure, the university’s annual fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.
Q: What made you decide to give a free activity grade to the students who participate in this event?
A: I decided to offer an announced activity grade for wearing purple or pink for a variety of reasons. One: BC [breast cancer] impacts all of us and awareness is important! Many of my students tell me they have a grandmother, mother, aunt, sister who survived or died from BC. A few even have had a grandfather who had BC. Two: I teach in the Department of Psychology, which is an experimental psychology program. Thus, research and science directed at improving and benefitting the lives of people is paramount to the faculty, students, and staff in our department. What better way to teach incoming freshmen…the significance of research than promoting BC awareness with Frogs for the Cure? Three: Students at TCU are future leaders, scientists, and policy makers. I want to instill in them the importance of knowledge, action, service, and dedication to events and diseases that impact our world.
Q: What is your personal experience with breast cancer?
A: I was diagnosed on Dec. 14, 2007 with BC. Because of my age, I had never had a mammogram… but found a lump through self exam. My OBGYN believed it was a cyst but had a mammogram ordered. After diagnosis I had a double mastectomy, received chemotherapy, and Herceptin infusions.
Q: How did you get involved with Frogs for the Cure?
A: Mrs. Ann Louden, the Chancellor’s Associate for External Relations, organizes and leads Frogs for the Cure. Mrs. Louden is also a survivor and a wonderful role model for me and so many. She encouraged my involvement, and I am very thankful for her dedication to finding a cure. She introduced me to Dean Mary Patton and Dr. Jacqueline Lambiase, who teach at TCU, and have been an important part of Frogs for the Cure. We have formed a sort of “sorority” that is dedicated to awareness and finding a cure. Finally, my department was so wonderful and supportive during my treatment that I felt a desire to support others impacted by the disease. Dr. Tim Barth is my department chair; he took over my classes when I was going through treatment. To have your boss do that is amazing.
Q: How do you think being a breast cancer survivor has changed your perspective on life?
A: Survivorship has not totally changed my perspective on life. I believe I had a good handle on my blessings with a wonderful family before diagnosis. Since having children, I have always tried to take in the moments and appreciate the little things. However, I am aware that so many of us take our health for granted. I don’t do that anymore. Every little ache or bump makes me wonder if it is back.
Q: How did the support of those around you during this hard time affect you and your will to survive?
A: [I] Knew I had to survive because I had an 8 year old, 10 year old, and a wonderful husband. I had spent so many years as a stay at home mom and was diagnosed 4 months into returning to working. Again, Dr. Barth, the Department of Psychology, my family and friends provided me strength. My will to live was focused on wanting to raise my children, dance at their weddings, and baby-sit my future grandchildren. I also was very thankful for my faith in God during this time. He got me through a lot of fearful and painful days and nights.
Q: Do you have any advice/encouragement for students who have loved ones that are struggling with this same illness?
A: My advice is to seek excellent care and treatment; make sure you like your doctors and that they are well-versed in current research. Finally, BC treatment is a really awful, horrible year, but then life continues. Family, friends, and God are all willing and desiring to support you, let them.
To find out more information on how to aid in the fight against breast cancer, visit http://www.frogsforthecure.tcu.edu/.