What Breast Cancer Awareness Month Means to UVA Volleyball’s Jennifer Wineholt

Photo Courtesy Jennifer Wineholt
Photo Courtesy Jennifer Wineholt

It’s that time of year again.

October is the month that breast cancer awareness is celebrated nationally. This is the one month of the year where we as a nation, have a chance to raise awareness about the importance of getting checked for breast cancer, while celebrating the strength of those who have or had breast cancer. Also, as a UVa community we take time to come together to support and encourage all communities and individuals to get involved and gain knowledge about early signs of breast cancer and funds for research.

In the sports world, it is also time to share love, support, and awareness for all of those who have been affected by the disease. Athletes usually display their interest and encouragement by sporting their pink, whether it is literally a pink jersey or some type of sport accessory.

Last December, Jennifer Wineholt, a first year on the women’s volleyball team from Carlsbad, California found out that her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. So, to her and her family, this month is extremely important.

“All throughout my life, it [October] has meant a great deal to me. However, once my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer- it took on a whole new meaning. Athletically, this month means so much more to me than just an opportunity to get pink gear. Stepping onto the court here is an honor, and being able to show my support and pride for breast cancer survivors and their families makes playing the game that much more special.”

Wineholt talks a lot about the strength of not only her family, but the strength of her mom. She says, “Honestly, my mom was the strongest one out of all of us. Even when she was feeling sick from her pills or tired from moving around too much, she never broke down or lost faith. I’ve always known that my mom was strong, but after this experience I realized how much stronger she truly was.”

Similarly, to the teams in UVa athletics, they are each others’ families away from home. And for athletics in general, it has always been an amazing extracurricular activity to bring groups of people together in order to complete or surpass an ultimate goal. So, why not use its popular platform to uplift all who are interested in learning more about breast cancer and raising money for research in order to find a cure?

        Wineholt is extremely thankful for this month in athletics as her and her teammates show their support through their Awareness Night (Pink Game). However, she says, “I think there are more steps that can be taken to take full advantage of such a night. For example, make all of the proceeds of the vendor snacks go to a fund for supporting Breast Cancer research. Handing out free pink t-shirts at the door, or pink pom poms. I think it is also important that within a team [especially females] you have an open dialogue about breast cancer and how you can take the right steps to lessen your chances of getting it. Also- I think that since all of October is breast cancer awareness month, your home jersey should be pink for every game.”

One of the things she takes away from the indirect effect from this monster of a disease that breast cancer is, is that “strength in numbers is powerful.”

“I think it is incredibly important that everyone has a good support web around them at all times, during sports and life. When it comes to a disease like breast cancer, that support web carries even more importance. I truly believe that it is from the strength in others and ourselves that we are able to overcome any type of adversity- and no one should have to endure the mental and physical stress of cancer alone.”

So, to all, use this month to branch out, show love, and gain knowledge. This is the time to “bring more attention to a disease that affects so many people across the world. While it is obviously important to be aware and conscious of breast cancer all year round, having a month dedicated to supporting survivors, remembering the strong, and educating for future is amazing. Unfortunately, most people know someone in their family or friend group that has been affected by breast cancer; therefore it is vital that we have a month like this to build strength within those communities”, Wineholt says.


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