CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that Chloe Livaudais and her sister received gene testing through the Gene Machine. They did not receive gene testing through the Gene Machine. The Plainsman regrets this error.
Since 1985, the month of October has been recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During this time, organizations internationally campaign to raise funds for research and spread awareness on breast cancer.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the “most common cancer among American women,” with one out of every eight women diagnosed. Each year, approximately 255,000 U.S. women are diagnosed with breast cancer.
On Oct. 21, Well Red contributed to raising awareness in the Auburn community by holding a fundraiser in honor of breast cancer awareness month.
At this free event, Well Red hosted Auburn’s Relay for Life team and the Gene Machine, where 10% of the proceeds from the night were donated to these two organizations.
At the Turn the Page on Breast Cancer event, everyone who attended was able to purchase a book from Well Red with a 10% discount and had the opportunity to enter in a raffle to win a stack of books, as well.
This is the first year the Turn the Page on Breast Cancer event is taking place, with the help of Well Red event coordinator, Chloe Livaudais.
Livaudais wanted Well Red’s first event to be something real and personal for the community, which is her reasoning for hosting the Gene Machine and Auburn Relay for Life.
This event had a personal connection to Livaudais, whose grandmother died from breast cancer, whose mom was diagnosed twice and beat it and whose aunt currently has it. Livaudais feels hosting the Gene Machine is beneficially for those who have a family history of breast cancer and those who have no connection to it at all.
"To be able to talk to someone face-to-face and with emotions about that kind of stuff before it becomes an issue in your life, is so important," Livaudais said. Even if someone who attended the event is not personally impacted by breast cancer, they have the resources provided by the Gene Machine in their back pocket if need be.
The Gene Machine is a pink shuttle that drives all over Alabama with the purpose of outreach, research and give to back to the community.
“We go around all throughout Alabama to let people know about cancer risk factors,” Nancy Merner, assistant professor of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University said. “This includes discussing genetics and the importance of talking to your family and understanding the screenings that can occur if you are at risk for early detection.”
The Gene Machine is an effort of being out in the community to educate and build bridges of knowledge, but takes it one step further into a lab.
“We’re a research lab trying to find new breast cancer genes,” Dr. Merner said. “In the process of that, we also have the ability to screen clinically relevant genes. We translate that to the clinic and we partner with UAB to provide counseling so people know how to manage that information.”
At its foundation, Well Red is a bookstore and coffee shop located near campus off Opelika Road.
“There is such an enrichment of knowledge here, with all of the books that we have and all of the literature that we carry are things that will give you knowledge,” Livaudais said.
She hopes that people will come away from the event recognizing the importance of the foundations in attendance.
“I want tonight to really take advantage of that and give people knowledge they may need in the future," Livaudais said. "I hope that this is something that can be picked up not just here but around the community. Something tangible so that people can acknowledge that breast cancer, while scary, doesn’t have to be because of the two resources we have here tonight."
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Jayne Duignan, senior in journalism and psychology, is a culture writer at The Auburn Plainsman.