The information desk inside the Millennium Student Center at UMSL. Photo: Cate Marquis / The Current ©


By Albert Nall, Staff Writer for The Current


Colleges Against Cancer’s annual “Protect Your Balls” Dodgeball Tournament was held on Nov. 28 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Mark Twain Gym. T-shirts, boxers and coupon books were sold for the event. Sara Gerberding, vice president of Colleges Against Cancer and a biology major at University of Missouri-St. Louis, was the host for the event.

“The tournament was delayed because more teams than expected entered the tournament, and the brackets had to be redone,” said Gerberding.

There were almost three hours of very intense competition along with some very hard hits taken by members of teams, as well as arguments over calls by the referee. After a round-robin series of games and the championship round, a team from UMSL Athletics Department emerged as the champion of the tournament to take the trophy for 2012.

The dodgeball event was sponsored by the American Cancer Society and the UMSL chapter of Colleges Against Cancer. The faculty adviser for Colleges Against Cancer is Ashlee Roberts, and the adviser from the American Cancer Society is Melissa Hanstein.

“ ‘The Protect Your Balls’ Dodgeball Tournament strives to raise awareness about testicular and prostate cancers, while raising funds for UMSL’s Relay for Life,” said Brandi Grieshaber, president of the Colleges Against Cancer UMSL chapter.

“Awareness of prostate or any type of cancer is important to everyone,” said Grieshaber. “One of six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, so it is important that they and their loved ones know the facts, causes, and symptoms.”

“I believe cancer awareness has increased a lot by the efforts of our organization since Colleges Against Cancer began on the UMSL campus only seven years ago,” said Grieshaber. “We strive each semester to increase the amount of awareness we bring to the campus.”

Senior Dan Wright, Colleges Against Cancer chapter treasurer and an accounting major at UMSL, is a cancer survivor. He was easily identifiable in a “That ‘C’ Word Stole My Nuts” T-shirt. He showed a YouTube video produced by Besties with Testies before the tournament. Besties with Testies, a nonprofit organization based in Aurora, Colo., provides education, information and resources on testicular cancer and how-to guides on men’s self-exams.

“In October 2010, I was diagnosed with stage three testicular cancer, and my right kidney was shut off. I was eventually forced to drop out of school,” Wright said.

Wright went through chemotherapy for three months, spending 25 hours a week in treatment. Losing 85 pounds, he said it was the toughest experience of his life. Today, Wright is cancer-free, working two jobs and hopes to enroll in graduate school. Wright told the audience that the dodgeball event has raised a significant amount of money for the American Cancer Society and that testicular cancer is curable, although men are often hesitant to get checked out.

“The general reaction that I got when I was diagnosed with cancer was ‘no way you can have cancer; you are only 21’,” Wright said.

Literature from the American Cancer Society passed out at the dodge ball tournament states that cancer of the testicle is very rare. Still, it is a common cancer found in men age fifteen to forty. Nearly half of all American men will eventually develop some type of cancer over their lifetimes, and about one quarter will die from some form of cancer. Still, most adult cancers can be prevented by healthy lifestyle choices, maintaining an ideal weight and eating more fruits and vegetables.

The goal of the UMSL chapter of Colleges Against Cancer is to maintain current information on promotional initiatives as well as development plans and projects suitable for the campus community. Chapters of Colleges Against Cancer educate members about grassroots advocacy and why cancer is a political and a health issue. Chapters also promote programs and events on the college campus.

“Colleges Against Cancer’s planning for the 2013 Relay For Life at UMSL is already underway,” said Grieshaber. “We have been planning since the beginning of the semester.”

According to Grieshaber, the next Relay for Life event will be held at the Mark Twain Athletics Complex on April 12-13, 2013 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The theme for the 2013 Relay for Life is Superheroes. Costumes are welcome and very much encouraged.

“Currently, we are focusing on getting teams and participants registered,” said Grieshaber. “There is an early bird registration special going on until January 1st where the registration fee is only $5. Normally it is $10.”

To register for the 2013 Relay for Life, visit For more information about testicular cancer and self-exams for men, visit or call the American Cancer Society in St. Louis at 314-286-8100. For information on Besties with Testies and to get the T-shirt that was worn at the dodge ball event, visit

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