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Spotlight: Jenny Huynh, President of the Pink Ribbon Initiative at UCSD

This week for HC UCSD, we're collaborating with the Pink Ribbon Initiative at UCSD to promote more awareness for Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Research! In honor of HC UCSD's first campus organization collaboration, I wanted to highlight the leader of this amazing organization, Jenny Huynh. She is the founder of PRI at UCSD, a second year Biochemistry/Chemistry Major- ICAM minor, and I interviewed her to highlight her thoughts and PRI and motivations for beginning this amazing initiative on campus. 

 

1. What initially inspired you to begin this initiative at UCSD?

     

     Growing up, I was fortunate to be surrounded by inspiring women that I held great respect and admiration for, especially my mom, and when I began to really understand more serious matters, that was around the time my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was fortunate enough to catch it extremely early because she was aware of the signs and kept up with her own breast exams, and took the aggressive approach and got a double mastectomy. After that, I was introduced by my mother to the knowledge of how many other women in my family have had a battle against breast cancer, and in addition, I began to hear more about some of my friend’s mothers having gone through the battle against breast cancer themselves. I was absolutely amazed about how common breast cancer was and really wanted to help be an advocate for women to protect themselves early on to prevent a life or death scenario. I’ve always thought about how I can be someone who could bring this awareness to women, but it wasn’t until coming to UCSD that I felt like I could truly influence the community and help others in knowing how taking an active approach on being aware of the signs of breast cancer and building breast exams into one’s routine could potential prevent extreme causes of breast cancer to arise. Although with being informative, I didn’t want to just help provide others with information on this, I wanted to also create a space for women on campus to feel supported and in tune with their overall well beings by promoting wellness as well. 

 

2. What has been your favorite part about creating this initiative and the work you and your team have done to support Breast Cancer Awareness?

 

     For me, my favorite part about creating this initiative has been being able to work with my board members to build the organization from the ground up and being able to connect with peers who have been personally affected whether that be themselves or their family members, along with connecting with people who just want to be advocates and find a place of women positivity and wellness! My favorite initiative, we have taken to support Breast Cancer Awareness would be our race campaign for Susan G Komen’s first Virtual Race for the Cure. We had just started the organization officially and were already welcomed with support from women at UCSD who wanted to join us. My team and I were extremely happy and surprised about how many women joined us in our virtual race and also joined our team to raise money for it! It was extremely amazing to see and I felt very proud of all the hard work that was done by everyone on PRI’s board and our members.

 

3. What was it like participating in your first Race against Breast Cancer?
   

     Like I mentioned in the last question, it was amazing to see all the overwhelming support from other peers at UCSD. I was so proud that we were all able to come together for this cause to end breast cancer and raised over $1000 within under one week of fundraising for the race. It was definitely a great sight to see other peers wanting to go for a walk the day of the race in support and seeing their posts on social media about the walk. It was definitely a great first time experience.

 

4. What are your ambitions for the Initiative during the rest of your time at UCSD?
   

     For the rest of my time at UCSD, I’m hoping that once we are allowed to go back to in person activities that the organization will be able to have a closer camaraderie between all individuals involved. I really want this organization to radiate positivity, understanding, compassion and wellness to the women and even men in the community on campus and off. I’m also hoping that we will be able to have survivors one day come speak with our members and create networks for long lasting friendships between members and women who are in need of support. I’m also hoping to enact traditions in place for breast cancer awareness on the UCSD campus itself that will provide a means for continued support within the school. 

 

5. What do you think are some common misconceptions about Breast Cancer?

 

     Despite breast cancer being one of the most talked about cancers, there are still so many different misconceptions that arise because of the fact that breast cancer is mostly just talked surfacely. Some common misconceptions about breast cancer that I would note in particular would be that you are not only susceptible to getting breast cancer based on your genetics; essentially any woman could get breast cancer through abnormalities hormones, mutations, diet, stress and so much more. It also is a misconception that if one keeps up with a healthy lifestyle then they will never get breast cancer, however, although breast cancer risk can be lowered by doing those things, risk will always be there. Another misconception is that only women could get breast cancer, but in actuality, although much slimmer changes, men could also get breast cancer. 

 

6. Do you think you have a better understanding of Breast Cancer now since starting this initiative? How so?

 

     Since starting Pink Ribbon Initiative, I have been able to learn a lot more about the resources that are available to women overall and I have also learned about the differences between the aims of organizations that spread breast cancer awareness. It is hard to know everything there is to know, but I’m hopeful that as myself and my executive board continue to establish the Pink Ribbon Initiative, our personal understanding and our members will grow as we begin to bring on actual health care professionals to teach us all about the inner workings of the disease.