A recent UCLA cancer program event gave medical students a chance to break loose and have fun while also raising money for cancer research.
The Oncology Interest Group (ONCIG) hosted the first of what it hopes becomes an annual event: the Dodge Cancer double-elimination dodgeball tournament. Many David Geffen School of Medicine students participated in the spirited and charitable occasion on February 21.
The ONCIG exposes medical students to oncology outside the classroom. Members get more insight into research, patient care and survivorship. The dodgeball tournament planners worked closely with the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center to raise awareness and money for reproductive cancers, all while engaging in this beloved playground game.
"We chose to focus on reproductive cancers because ovarian, uterine and testicular cancers don't get the same amount of press as other cancers," says Sarah Jensen, a second-year medical student and one of the event planners. "I've seen how these cancers affect individuals and the impact research has on people. These cancers need much more research, so we hope to make a difference through this tournament."
The group raised money through the entry fee for teams, which was $10 per person, with five members per team. Players were also encouraged to share the fundraising link with others to gather more donations.
Having fun for a cause
At the UCLA cancer program, the group shared information with students about preventative steps they could personally take, and how to encourage loved ones to take these measures to avoid cancer. These include protecting themselves against sexually transmitted diseases and encouraging parents to get colonoscopies and mammograms.
The dodgeball tournament was also a way the ONCIG could enhance its relationship with the cancer center. Students see patients and learn at the cancer center, but in their early school years, they aren't often directly involved in impacting the work there.
Jensen, along with fellow ONCIG student volunteers Matthew Hung and Anju Goyal, planned the event, which occurred at the Student Activity Center. "We hope people have a non-stressful couple of hours, while helping a good cause," Jensen says. "Those moments are hard to come by in medical school."
The group hopes to grow the event (and along with it, awareness) and expand it to other pre-professional schools in the coming years.
By Patricia Chaney