USM’s many efforts to fight breast cancer

USM’s many efforts to fight breast cancer

A department golf cart was decorated last year during the Paint Southern Miss Pink competition. Courtesy photo

A department golf cart was decorated last year during the Paint Southern Miss Pink competition.
Courtesy photo

During October, The University of Southern Mississippi has worked to combat breast cancer on several fronts. While some were special events, one has been an ongoing effort over the years.

Rebecca Fillmore, assistant professor of biological sciences on the USM Gulf Coast campus, is working on a project that seeks to find a relationship between the protein MKX3.1 and breast cancer after more than five years.

MKX3.1 is a known tumor suppressor. Normally found most concentrated in the prostate gland, the loss of MKX3.1 has been connected to prostate cancer. Fillmore wants to see if the protein loss will have any effect on breast cancer.

“The prostate and breast tissue develop very similarly and the actual tissues themselves are very similar,” Fillmore said. “There are a lot of parallels there, a lot of the factors are the same.”

The process involves increasing the amount of MKX3.1 in lab-grown cancer cells that have been used since the 1950s. So far, the results haven’t been positive. Even though the protein becomes more prevalent with breast cancer, there seems to be something keeping it from suppressing tumors. Fillmore plans to examine what is interacting with the protein and potentially figure out how to make it work against breast cancer.

USM also held several events this month to help raise awareness and funds to help fight breast cancer.

Health services visited female dorms to educate students about breast cancer, like who is at risk, and how to perform self exams. “That’s basically what our office does,” said Jodi Ryder, health educator and coordinator of the Health Services Center. “We go to a lot of the dorms and do educational programs.”

Student organizations also played a role with several NPHC Greek organizations as well as the American Marketing Association and the Southern Miss Activities Council all holding their own awareness events throughout the month.

The “Paint it Pink” campaign sponsored by Southern Miss Recreational Sports lasted all month. They held events such as Awareness Wednesday and Tabling Tuesdays to raise money for a local breast cancer awareness fund.

On Oct. 24, the Payne Center held the Pink Aerobathon. Participants were given Victoria’s Secret prizes and were encouraged to wear pink at the Eagle Walk and football game against Florida International University.

Rec Sports held the Golf Cart Decoration and Parade on Oct. 1 and held a door decorating contest which lasted all month. Pictures of the decorated golf carts and doors were uploaded to the Paint it Pink Facebook page where people were encouraged to ‘like’ their favorite photo. The winners were announced Oct. 28.

Abigail Elias, fitness and wellness coordinator with Rec Sports, is already planning next year’s events. “Next year we are still probably going to do the golf cart decorating contest, because everybody seemed to love that and everyone seemed to love participating in the Eagle Walk,” Elias said. “We are thinking about doing bra decorating and maybe something else along those lines.”

Paint it Pink’s Facebook page is facebook.com/paintsouthernmisspink2013. To learn more or to get involved in raising awareness, visit nationalbreastcancer.org or pinkribbon.com.

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