Fighting cancer with PuRple

annik and meNo one should have to fight breast cancer. But when the victim is just 23 and one of my former students, it’s all the more upsetting.

Among the many great pleasures associated with teaching at Hofstra are the friendships I’ve developed with students outside the classroom. We work on projects and research, plan and attend events, and travel to conferences and programs together.

One such student was Annik Spencer. A New England native, Annik was a highly motivated undergraduate who was involved in clubs and campus activities, and worked at several internships while earning a high grade point average. Her strong networking skills led her to an agency job at CooperKatz in Manhattan when she graduated. Annik continued to participate in student-related events and we even shared a meal or two to catch up.

Needless to say, I was shocked when Annik called me early this summer to tell me she had breast cancer. Her mother died of breast cancer at age 36 when Annik was just four years old, so she has fought back aggressively by having a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and other treatments.

True to form, Annik has faced this crisis with a positive attitude and determination. She has tremendous support from family, friends and colleagues. She’s also using her PR skills by creating a web site, “We Fight with the Color Purple,” where she shares her fight with family, friends and followers. The homepage notes, “To show our support, we’re asking everyone to paint their nails and/or wear purple bracelets. Purple has always been a special color to Annik as it was her mother Ricanne’s favorite color.” She regularly details her treatment and her emotions, and provides visitors with a place for comments and reassurances that she’s going to be OK. There’s also a link to help to ease the financial burden on Annik’s family.

Communicating well is helping Annik get through this. Her online grace and eloquence give the readers insight to her charisma and strength. Annik’s prognosis is excellent and she’ll be a PR superstar for many, many years to come. Your thoughts?

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