Junior Chelsea Hamerlinck recently donated $1,000 on behalf of Simpson College’s Breast Cancer Awareness club to help a non-profit Des Moines organization provide help, hope and support to breast cancer patients.
It all started when Hamerlinck was a senior in high school. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Since then, raising awareness for the disease has become a passion and this week, her dedication paid off.
“It’s really close to my heart,” she said.
Hamerlinck, a criminal justice and psychology major, is the president of the campus’ breast cancer club and since accepting the position her sophomore year, has been committed to raising awareness and funds for the disease that affected her family and countless other families.
“I started getting other students involved and having larger campus events,” she said.
One of these events is the annual Think Pink football game. The club hosted a bake sale, sold tickets for raffle baskets and provided fun games.
“We had flush cancer, where you tossed stuff into a pink toilet seat,” she explained. “And we had bra pong. You have a wooden pallet with three different bras on it and you have to bounce a Ping-Pong ball into it. It’s really hard!”
All of the money raised during the event was donated to Can Do Cancer, a non-profit organization based in Des Moines.
According to the organization’s website, volunteers who have been affected by breast cancer operate Can Do Cancer. The website states, “each have been affected by cancer and knows firsthand the stresses that a cancer diagnosis puts on an individual, their friends and family.”
Founder of the organization, Molly Suarez, met with Hamerlinck on Simpson’s campus to accept the donation. She says the money will go toward providing four core services: dinner for patients on the day of their chemotherapy sessions, once a month house cleaning services, information about what patients need to know after being diagnosed and motivational support throughout a patient’s treatment.
“I was amazed at how much I had to figure out on my own, so I wanted to start an organization where I could share that information that I had to figure out,” Suarez said.
Suarez looks back on her experiences and tries to locate areas where help was most needed, and these are the needs the organization strives to fulfill.
Suarez remembers having a neighbor bring her family dinner after her chemotherapy sessions. She said, “It was so incredibly helpful. It allowed me to go to my treatments and come home and dinner was ready. I didn’t have to worry about what I or my family was going to eat.”
She also notes this service, along with house cleaning services, makes a patient feel better because they do not have the same energy and strength as they normally would while in treatment.
The next event hosted by the breast cancer awareness club will be Cookies For A Cure, taking place during finals when the club will sell mason jars filled with cookie and brownie ingredients.
Simpson’s breast cancer awareness club meets on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. in Cowles 171. All students are welcome to join and show support for the men and women battling breast cancer.
This is the second year the club has donated to Can Do Cancer.
“I am very thankful for Chelsea and the work she has done for us,” Suarez said. “We really appreciate it.”
Hamerlinck said, “I just wish my mom had something like this when she was diagnosed.”