BC Cancer Center Hosts First Health And Wellness Fair On West Quad

The fair's organizers with Buster the Bulldog./Gabriela Flores

By Gabriela Flores


   After nearly two years since its opening, the Brooklyn College Cancer Center (BCCC-CURE) hosted its first Health and Wellness Fair in person on Tuesday, Apr. 26. Organizers sought to educate the BC community on their mental and physical health, hosting a range of activities from talks on cancer prevention to mindfulness exercises, such as yoga and Japanese floral arrangements. 

   “We felt that the whole college community really needed a happy event where you didn’t have to be focused on something and you can just enjoy yourself because for two and a half years we’ve been carrying a lot of existential angst and we’ve been isolated from each other on campus,” said Dr. Jennifer Basil, the center’s Associate Director for Community Outreach and Engagement. “And we just thought it could be a positive event for everyone to come together […].” 

    With its focus on educating and advocating for the healthcare of Brooklynites, the Cancer Center continuously works with local organizations and hospitals to create more visibility of different health issues, like cancer screenings. BCCC-CURE also pipelines students to different educational programs at Maimonides Hospital and Mount Sinai Cancer Center. 

   Bringing its services to the BC campus, the center hosted blood pressure checks, glucose tests, a COVID vaccine and testing van, along with other wellness tools. Local Brooklyn groups, unions, and BC organizations like the Immigrant Student Success Office (ISSO), joined the fair to share their resources with community members. 

    “Our goal here is to work with the students to make sure that they know their classroom work is important, but their wellbeing is more important,” said ISSO Director Jesús Pérez, noting that the fair also forms part of the office’s Immigrant Heritage Week Celebration.

   The four-hour-long event took about six months to plan, with Ana Bartolome, the center’s Community Outreach Coordinator and Operations Manager, spearheading much of its itinerary. Tuesday’s focus was to drive BC members to pay attention to their health, not ignore it – while also enjoying some dancing, music, henna tattooing, and ikebana, or Japanese floral arrangements. 

   “It feels amazing to see students out here really enjoying themselves, interacting with each other, and of course, taking the information in from the different tables,” Bartolome said. 

   Stationed around the quad were also student-led clubs like the Mexican Heritage Student Association, and BC-based clinics, such as the Brooklyn College Speech, Language, and Hearing Center. 

   Later in the afternoon, four informational sessions were held, covering everything from healthy habits for post-pandemic life to the most effective ways of steering clear of cancer. 

   “The best way to prevent cancer is starting young because skin, lung, and cervical cancers are an issue for younger people,” Basil explained, who is a survivor of breast cancer. “In particular skin cancer for anyone of any skin tone, people just don’t think about it. But it can be an issue.”  

    BCCC-CURE’s events and outreach won’t be ending with the fair as its leaders are currently partnering with the American Cancer Society to run two fundraisers in the next six months: one for women researchers and another for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. At its core, the center intends to continue informing the Brooklyn College community and the broader Brooklyn scene of the importance of health awareness. 

    “What’s important is that people know what they need to do and they know where they can go to do it, and ask if they don’t know,” said Basil. “Because the solution to illnesses – and in particular, cancer – is knowledge.”