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Medical Students Rally to Support Friend Who Lost Mother to Breast Cancer

By BCRF | February 12, 2016

One week after Denaya Edwards’ mother died, her classmates found an incredible way to support her and others impacted by breast cancer

Students at the Georgia Campus of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine are no strangers to illness. Every day they study ways to become leading physicians, researchers and educators. However, sometimes their passion hits close to home.  

Perhaps no one knows this better than Denaya Edwards. A second-year osteopathic medical student, Edwards watched her mother struggle with breast cancer for the past four years. Ultimately the disease progressed from stage 1 to stage 4 and she died of metastatic disease on January 25.

“Throughout this journey, my mom remained overall in good spirits, courageous, patient, and humble, being strong in her Christian faith,” Edwards said describing her late mother, Minister Sarah Edwards. “She was even able to still minister to others although she was in ill health; one of her greatest strengths was helping and caring for others.”

One week after her death, Edwards returned to her studies. While this transition was far from easy, her classmates found an incredible way to support her.

“As friends and as a class, we wanted to do something to show her she was loved and that she had our support during this extremely difficult time,” Danielle Ward, a second year medical student, said.

On February 3, the class organized a “Pink Out” day where faculty and students wore pink and were encouraged to donate to BCRF in the late Edwards’ memory. In less than 24 hours, the class reached their fundraising goal – donating more than $1,000 to the cause.

“We not only wanted to honor and recognize her mother, but to show our love and support for anyone who has ever survived or lost a loved one to breast cancer,” Ward said.

Choosing BCRF was a no-brainer, she adds.

“It was very important to us as a class that we find an organization that was dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer research, and one that allotted most of their funds towards this,” Ward said pointing to the organization’s A+ rating.

“As medical students, a lot of us have prior research experience and we understand the importance of research funds.”

Their act of kindness came as a blessing to Edwards and her family.

“All day I felt all mushy inside. I never experienced so much support from a school I attended before,” Edwards said. “I now feel more capable of getting back on track and in tune with accomplishing my medical school studies.”