October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Jacqueline O’Gorman, chair of the Science department and Human Anatomy and Physiology teacher, knew that it was her duty as an educator to help bring awareness to the effects of breast cancer in both women and men in a meaningful way.
“I teach a very high level science, so to help my students understand it better, I always take a very human approach,” she said. “I make sure every class is filled with empathy and we focus on the human side of the equation, not the mechanical side of it. Which is why I shared with my class that not only am I a breast cancer survivor, but just last year I lost my identical twin sister to this disease.”
After bravely sharing her story with her class, Mrs. O’Gorman wanted her HAP students to put their knowledge to good use and help spread awareness around a disease that will affect one in eight women.
“It wasn’t easy for me to share my story with my students, and I know it wasn’t easy for them to hear, but it’s important for them to be able to put a face to a disease,” she said. “If my story makes a difference in just one person’s life then I have done my job.”
Students were tasked with creating a Public Service Announcement addressing the disease. Students had complete flexibility in how they wanted to portray the information and could do anything from interview a breast cancer survivor to create a short film or children’s book.
One student in particular, Maya A. ’21 decided that for her PSA, she wanted to raise money for a breast cancer awareness organization; without hesitation, Maya knew she would donate the money to Daughter’s Defense, an organization created in memory of Mrs. O’Gorman’s twin sister, Denise.
Daughter’s Defense is an organization that started five years ago when Mrs. O’Gorman and her sister were battling breast cancer together. A year ago, it became an organization in memory of Mrs. O’Gorman’s sister and all money raised is in her honor.
“Mrs. O’Gorman’s story really resonated with me because someone in my family was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, so when I got this assignment, I just felt like it was my duty to represent the women who I know that have breast cancer and raise money for them,” Maya said. “Breast cancer is very common and I don’t think many people realize that, so I want to help people become more aware.”
In just two weekends, Maya was able to raise over 400 dollars for Daughter’s Defense, helping the organization surpass its goal of collecting 1,000 dollars in the month of October.
Mrs. O’Gorman explained that when she shared with her niece how much money Maya was able to raise, her niece immediately began crying tears of joy.
“Because of Maya, my niece was able to reach her goal and raise enough money in memory of her mom and my sister, and that means so much to me,” Mrs. O’Gorman said. “I’m honored that Maya did this.”
Here's another example PSA, by Madie R '22: