by npatano on April 21, 2022
On Sunday, April 11, Peterson Recreation Center bustled with students, supporters, games, and emotional testimonies. Providence College’s Colleges Against Cancer (CAC) chapter organized a Relay For Life event after a two-year pause due to the pandemic.
“My main goal with this event was trying to bring back what is usually the most successful relay event in the Northeast back to Providence College. After two years of pause a lot of clubs did not get to meet and we did lose a lot of attendance, especially when the big event was not happening,” said Giulia Pugliese ’22, president of CAC.
The event started at 3:30 p.m. (after a delay from moving inside due to weather conditions) with a survivor and caregiver lap around Peterson track. Surrounding the track were luminaries signifying those lost to cancer or currently battling the disease along with reasons people were walking. The luminaries were created by friends and family members of those who passed away.
As of Monday, March 18, the fundraising page reached a total of $18,903.36 of their $20,000 goal, according to the “Relay for Life of Providence College” webpage. Notably, the “Hug Your Mama” team reached $4,842.24, surpassing their goal of $4,250.
All money raised is donated to the American Cancer Society. “One thing I love about the American Cancer Society is out of the money we raised, a sum of it goes to mental health and other support for caregivers,” said Pugliese, “which is really important to me because almost all the survivors I’ve known have also been caregivers.”
Father Isaac Morales, O.P. gave the heartwarming prayer before the silent lap for all those who lost their lives in the battle with cancer. Fr. Morales shared that he survived cancer twice and has been impacted by a family member’s diagnosis as well.
Like many people, Pugliese’s life has been impacted by cancer. Her grandmother, with whom she shares a birthday, died from colon cancer before they could meet. She said, “I have always felt connected to her, even though I have never met her before. It just is special.”
As a freshman in high school, Pugliese’s mom was diagnosed with cancer. She is now in remission and considers herself a survivor. Then, when Pugliese entered PC, her aunt was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer. “The first phone call I got from my aunt at college, she told me she had her first round of chemo and that she decided to shave her head. I just wanted to hug her so bad and it was really hard to hear so far away from home. With every diagnosis there comes fear, but there also comes hope,” said Pugliese.
She stressed the importance of continued awareness and fighting for better treatments and ultimately, a cure.
Pugliese walked to celebrate the life of Ashley Hope Goodman on the team A Good Fight. Ashley passed away from lymphoma. She said, “she is the bravest person I have ever met. Even in the face of her diagnosis she was always positive and thanked all the doctors at MSK and has become an inspiration to me.”
Relay for Life proves to be a reflection of both Pugliese’s hard work and Colleges Against Cancer’s fight.
“When you come to PC, you never really know what someone is going through, whether someone is a survivor, caregiver, or someone has lost a family member to cancer,” said Pugliese.
“Colleges Against Cancer is a safe space for people to come to and find others to relate to, like it was for me three years ago. It meant everything to me to have a group that understood how I was feeling and people automatically supported me.”