Warren Central Stays Aware

Posted 11:31 PM by


null     Last month, Warren Central held their annual fall Pink Week, raising money and awareness for the research and prevention of cancer, a deadly disease that kills more than half a million people every year.

     “Pink Week is what it should be. A salute or celebration to those that have overcome, a remembrance of those no longer with us and a cry for a cure so that others may not suffer,” Walker Career Center teacher Patrick Patterson said.

     Every year, Pink Week brings in thousands of dollars. This year, the athletic department and students raised approximately $8,500 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and in the past decade, the department has donated over $37,000 for the cause.

     Last year, some of the money was raised to help a former student with his cancer treatments. After unfortunately losing him to Renal Medullary Carcinoma last year and noticing the effect that it imprinted on the high school community, the athletic department has worked to bring inclusivity to as many types of cancer as possible during Pink Week.

     In the Pink Out football game against rivals Ben Davis, more than 600 students, faculty, alumni and parents filled the stands to watch the Warriors football team win 70-27, while also donating to support the awareness of cancer. At the game, the family of Johnathan ‘Jamar’ Smith, faculty and students released red heart balloons in remembrance of the deceased Warrior.

     “Even though cancer is awful, it brings people together for a common cause,” senior Octavian Gill said. “Cancer kills people. It should be fought back with as much force as possible.”

     Smith was not the only loss that the Warrior Nation has faced. The disease has substantially affected other people like senior Kennedy Bland, too. Her mom and grandma were diagnosed with breast cancer, and her uncle was diagnosed with liver cancer. Currently, her mother is still battling the disease and has been for the past 2 years. For the past three years, her uncle has been doing the same.

     “Cancer has left an everlasting influence on me. From the moment my mother was diagnosed, I learned to never take anyone or life for granted,” Bland said. “The hardest time of my life was when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. I saw it ruining her, which broke my heart.”

     Not only does the disease affect the student body at Warren Central, but it also affects the teachers and faculty at the high school. Some Warrior teachers’ and faculty members’ lives have intertwined with the disease, but many Warren Central students are unaware of the numerous survivors of cancer that the school has on its staff.

     Walker Career Center teacher Patrick Patterson is a survivor of melanoma, a skin cancer. He has been a member of the Warrior Nation since he attended the school in the 70s. With strength he says he gets from his family, Patterson has been battling cancer and has been winning the fight successfully for over 20 years.

     “Strength comes in faith, family and friends that share daily life and laughs, while wiping away the occasional tears because not everyone wins against cancer,” Patterson said. ”We all have suffered loss. Encourage people to conduct their self-exams, have a yearly check-up and let the people around you know that they are valued and loved.”

     There are many ways to prevent cancer or to keep oneself safe from the disease. For Walker Career Center work and learning coordinator Janet Banks, she learned she had a high probability percentage for breast cancer and regularly did check-ups with her doctor to prevent it as much as she could.

     “Statistically, every 1 of 7 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. So I’m one of the seven, and I feel like it comes with a responsibility,” Banks said. “My responsibility is to be there for other women or men who have been diagnosed with this disease because I know who I felt like when I went through it.”

     Banks was diagnosed with breast cancer 6 years ago. With knowledge of her high prognosis, her doctors were able to locate the cancer quickly in its early stages. Her battle was a year long and since then, she has been cancer-free.

     “Sometimes cancer itself isn’t the worst part of the disease. Sometimes the worst part of the experience is feeling alone, helpless and without hope,” Banks said. “If I can help anybody else through that burden, then I am happy to do so.”

     In the athletic department, assistant athletic director and athletics administrator Susan Downey is also a survivor of melanoma. Although melanoma is not the most common form of skin cancer, it is credited to be the skin cancer with the highest death rate. This cancer in particular has the fastest growing number of cases every year than any other cancer. Approximately one person dies of melanoma every hour.

     “Finding the strength [to battle cancer] was easy for me,” Downey said. “I approached it as matter of fact, just tell me what I need to do to regain my health and I will do it.”

     Downey was first diagnosed with it in March of 2015 and had surgery to remove in in April of that year. Since then, she has been cancer-free and aims to live as best as she can.

     “Life is so much fun if your quality of life is intact, regardless of what you go through, and at the end of it all, you might have the chance to enjoy life to its fullest again. Be there for your loved ones and enjoy those you hold near and dear to you,” Downey said.