The UTM Muslim Students’ Association held their annual “Think Pink” event last week to raise awareness and funds for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This year, the event included a large bake sale with homemade cupcakes, macaroons, biryani, and cotton candy. There was also a spin-the-wheel game in which students were asked to distinguish between popular breast cancer myths and facts.

In addition to collecting donations, the MSA also organised a lecture by associate professor Patrick Gunning of the Department of Chemical and Physical Sciences. In his lecture, Gunning explained his cancer research and, in particular, the implications of his research for the future of breast cancer treatment.

Gunning and his team have been designing a drug molecule that deactivates the STAT3 protein in cells. The STAT3 protein is hyperactive in many cancerous cells, Gunning explained, and many diseases are STAT3-driven, such as psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. Currently, Gunning’s drug has been approved for clinical trials for psoriasis, though he said that clinical trials for breast cancer are likely to follow soon.

In previous years, the MSA’s event was called “Pink Hijab Day”, said president Maha Khan. This year, in order to make the event more inclusive for the whole community, the event was renamed “Think Pink” and students were encouraged to dress in pink to show support for breast cancer sufferers and further raise awareness amongst the community. Last year, the event raised about $170.

“Two years ago, we raised about $500, but sadly last year our event was cut short by a bad storm,” said Khan.

According to final calculations, the MSA raised $339 this year. All the funds will go to the Canadian Breast Cancer Association.

“What I’m hoping is that this week not only raises awareness for breast cancer, but also shows that Muslims are not only involved in their own issues, but are also involved with community initiatives,” says Khan. “Breast cancer affects both men and women, and we’d like to do our part in helping to raise awareness.”