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September 2011

Nursing student honors memory of father by advocating for fight against cancer

Ben Sudbeck said he became involved in the fight against cancer before it directly affected his life a few years ago. He had joined his parents and the rest of his family at a number of American Cancer Society Relay for Life events in the northeast Kansas area (Hiawatha) where he was raised.

But when Sudbeck’s father passed away following a battle with brain cancer in 2004, Sudbeck immediately felt the need to raise the bar in his advocacy against the disease.

Sudbeck, a senior in Avila University’s School of Nursing, has done just that by starting a chapter of Colleges Against Cancer here on campus.

“Once my father got cancer, I wanted to step up and do more,” he said. “My brother started a Colleges Against Cancer branch at another local University. I knew I wanted to get involved. If I wasn’t going to do it, it wasn’t going to get done.

“I just wanted to get word out and raise money for the cause, just get the wheels turning.”

Sudbeck said the process in getting the local branch of CAC started has been a long one. He said he began the application process to the American Cancer Society a year ago and just recently had that application approved.

He said CAC’s primary mission is to carry out the programs and initiatives of the American Cancer Society, and those tasks and enterprises are four-pronged: advocacy, cancer control, Relay For Life and survivorship, something he’s very in tuned with following the loss of his father.

“We’re hoping to help out with the Hope Lodge in downtown Kansas City, go down there and volunteer time,” Sudbeck said. “That’s where people who come here from out of town to get cancer treatments can go stay while they’re here. In October, we’re going to team up with Nurse Carol (Frevert) for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

“Right now, though, I’m just trying to sign people up, get them involved.”

Sudbeck said he began his college career at Kansas State, where he received a degree in biology before entering Avila’s nursing program. He said the smaller size of Avila’s classes and campus community have been an excellent fit for what he’s trying to accomplish, including starting the Colleges Against Cancer branch.

“Here, you can make impacts like this,” he said. “You can branch out and get involved. That, and I like the Catholic heritage and atmosphere here. It’s been great.” AU

Media Contact: Bob Luder, 816.501.2434