West Windsor, N.J. – When student officers from the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Radiography Club first heard about the India Mission Foundation, they were intrigued. The health-focused October trip to India, which was to be carried out as a joint enterprise between Princeton Radiology Associates (PRA) and the Princeton YWCA's Breast Cancer Resource Center, was quickly deemed a charity worthy of the club’s support.
Said Assistant Professor of Radiography William Petrosky, the club’s advisor, “The goal of the trip was to educate women in India about breast cancer and its treatment. It’s a goal that ties in well with our Radiography program. Many of our students will eventually be working in diagnostic imaging for cancer, with mammographic imaging being one of the most common.”
Petrosky reached out to PRA, which was delighted to have MCCC students on board with its efforts. (PRA is one of the clinical sites for MCCC Radiography students.)
The students’ fall fundraiser was the sale of Radiography Club apparel, an effort led by Club President Donna Greene, who designed a radiography-themed logo for t-shirts and sweatshirts, and Vice President Karey Pecci. “Club members sold them to fellow students, family members and friends, as well as to radiology staff members at our clinical sites,” Greene said, adding that purchasers had the option to add a few dollars to their order to have the logos inscribed in pink for breast cancer awareness.
They sold 83 items in total, donating a portion of their proceeds to help with travel expenses for the India Mission medical team’s two-week trip to five Indian health care facilities. The PRA staff was accompanied by several breast cancer survivors.
On Dec. 1, Mercer students had an opportunity to come full circle on the project, as two members of the PRA team, Veronica Pirone and Laura Quinn, presented a slide lecture about their India experience. They described it as life-changing, certainly for them, and hopefully for the many women and health care workers with whom they came in contact.
“A greater number of women die from breast cancer in India than in any other nation. Many Indian women are not encouraged to have mammograms or perform breast self-exams,” Quinn said.
“We described how we approach breast cancer prevention and treatment in the United States. Our goal was to equip the women and health workers with the knowledge and tools to save more lives through education and earlier detection.”
Both Quinn and Pirone emphasized the strong need for cultural sensitivity in health care delivery here at home as well as overseas. “You are the front lines," Pirone told the students. "Your compassion and caring can make a big difference to a patient’s emotional well-being.”
Greene says the students appreciated Quinn’s and Pirone’s visit to the college and were gratified to hear about their trip. “Our class found their presentation insightful and inspirational. Their travels in India have made a difference in people’s lives and we are glad to have played a small part in that.”