Cancer affects everyone — somehow, someway.

It might be a friend, family member, coworker, classmate, or yourself.


It might be an early, "just remove the tumor and be done with it" stage zero or it might be a severe, "hope for the best and fight hard" stage four. It might be someone as young as a baby who hasn't even been able to explore the world yet or an elderly person who has more crazy stories about life than years you've been alive.

The worst part is that cancer does not discriminate against anyone — even the healthiest person, the wealthiest person or the smartest person can fall victim to cancer.

So far, I am a lucky one. I haven't received the dreaded news of a cancer diagnosis from a doctor. Unfortunately, I haven't been so lucky in other ways. I have known too many people who have been diagnosed and battled through chemo, or had tumors removed, or despite rounds and rounds of chemo, could not fight the battle any longer.

Cancer sucks.

There are no specific means of prevention. There is no specific cure. The mystery of cancer remains to be one of the most baffling medical issues today. All we can do is eat healthy, exercise regularly, minimize stress, live the healthiest life possible, and hope that we don't get the dreaded diagnosis.

If we do get this diagnosis, all we can do is hope that it was caught early enough, that it can be removed, and that the chemo doesn't destroy what we have left. If we get the dreaded diagnosis and then survive, all we can do is live an even healthier lifestyle, attend routine checkups, and hope that we never have to hear that "C" word ever again. Life is a constant battle when it comes to cancer. The good news is that there are tons of ways that we "lucky ones" can help those tough cookies who are fighting back and not accepting defeat as an option.

Personally, I have volunteered at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and it was a great experience. You could volunteer at the event like I did, do the walk portion, or run the full 5K.

Either way, it helps raise money and awareness for those women who have fought long and hard to beat breast cancer. I have also participated in Stevenson University's Relay For Life. Something about listening to people's cancer stories, staying up until the wee hours of the morning, and raising thousands of dollars for cancer research tells me that what I'm doing is worth it.

I have never seen a more hard-working, dedicated and motivated group of people than the people who volunteer, coordinate and participate in Stevenson's Relay For Life. Check out your school's or community's American Cancer Society Relay For Life chapter — you won't regret it.

A lot of area hospitals and organizations hold a number of drives, fundraisers and events that all benefit cancer patients.

Donate your hair when you have it cut. Talk to just about any hair dresser about donating to Locks of Love or a similar organization. Make a blanket to be delivered to cancer patients. Write motivational cards for pediatric cancer patients in hospitals.

I have done all of these things, and not only does helping out feel great, but it also means a lot to the patients who receive these gifts — they truly appreciate the thought and love.

We all know that cancer exists and that it affects everyone. It isn't just about the difficult doctor visits, the family phone calls, or the fight for health. It's also about awareness and knowing that everyone can do something to help. Together, we can beat cancer — once and for all.

Amanda Oppenheim is a junior at Stevenson University and can be reached at amandaoppenheim15@gmail.com.