O’Brien ’14 Advocating for Cancer Cure – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

O’Brien ’14 Advocating for Cancer Cure

Margaret O’Brien’14 is a campus advocate for Cancer Mission 2020, a program that aims to find a cure to cancer by 2020. She and the HWS advocacy program were recently the subject of an article in the Finger Lakes Times.

“I really just want to help other kids that are in the same position that I was in,” said O’Brien, who lost her father to cancer just before the start of her senior year of high school.

The article notes, “In the 12 months since Camp Good Days founder Gary Mervis launched Cancer Mission 2020, thousands of people from across the globe have signed a symbolic petition to end cancer. It’s available online and is being passed around by volunteers like O’Brien. She solicited signatures from about 100 of her classmates during the recently completed semester and hopes to get many more after winter break.”

At HWS, O’Brien is a psychology major and a member of the club soccer team. She is also a member of the United States of America Snowboard Association.

The full article follows.

Finger Lakes Times
A ‘lofty’ – and attainable – goal
William Smith student helps fight for cancer cure through Cancer Mission 2020 initiative
Jessica Youngman • January 1, 2012

GENEVA – Margaret O’Brien lost her dad two days before she started her senior year of high school.

Kevin O’Brien had endured chemotherapy and radiation in his two-year battle with non-smoker’s lung cancer, living far longer than his doctors predicted when he was diagnosed.

Now, Margaret, 19, is fighting cancer at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she’s in her sophomore year. She isn’t suffering from the disease; rather, she’s leading the way as a campus advocate for an initiative, Cancer Mission 2020, aimed at finding a cure to the disease in the next nine years.

“I really just want to help other kids that are in the same position that I was in,” Margaret said. Cancer Mission 2020 was developed by the Mendon, Monroe County-based Camp Good Days and Special Times. HWS advocates the program is part of the effort that was launched a year ago this month.

“The goal is to end cancer,” said Mark Antonucci, a Camp Good Days social media specialist who’s been heading up the campus initiative. “It‘s a very broad and lofty goal.”

Yet, ask any of those involved in Cancer Mission 2020, and they say it’s attainable.

“We have the technology. We have the funding,” Antonucci said. “Now, we have to work on the collaboration.”

In the 12 months since Camp Good Days founder Gary Mervis launched Cancer Mission 2020, thousands of people from across the globe have signed a symbolic petition to end cancer. It’s available online and is being passed around by volunteers like O’Brien. She solicited signatures from about 100 of her classmates during the recently completed semester and hopes to get many more after winter break.

Additionally, Mervis hosted three Congressional district cancer summits over the summer. Lawmakers met with doctors, cancer patient support groups and service agency representatives to talk about ways to better collaborate in finding a cure.

The most recent of the summits, held in late August, was for the 29th Congressional District. Rep. Tom Reed was joined by Dr. Candace Johnson of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Lydia Pan, director of worldwide policy at Pfizer Inc.

Cancer Mission organizers also are working with Reps. Richard Hanna and Kathy Hochul of the 24th and 26th Congressional districts, respectively.

Mervis hopes to host more cancer summits.

“They serve as an opportunity to bring all parties together to have collaborative conversations leading the way to finding the answers to cancer,” he said.

The hope is that the recommendations from the summits will result in legislation aimed at finding a cure. Reed indicated he would sponsor a bill, while Hochul, Hanna and Reps. Louise Slaughter and Ann Marie Buerkle said they would cosponsor it.

“Cancer is an issue that affects all of us and has brought together representatives from all sides of the aisle,” Mervis said “… Cancer is an issue of the people – an equal opportunity illness that crosses all lines.”

Considering the statistics – one in every three women and one in every two men will face a cancer diagnosis – there are few people whose lives have not been touched by the disease.

On the HWS campus, O’Brien said she has met plenty of fellow students who’ve lost loved ones to cancer.

“I hope to get all those people together, to bring them together with this program,” she said.

She hopes to launch a new club on campus for Camp Good Days and Special Times next semester. Members could help with Cancer Mission 2020 and volunteer with the non-profit organization’s camps for children affected by the disease, something O’Brien has done in the past.

Hobart and William Smith is one of 12 campuses with advocate programs for Cancer Mission 2020.

Antonucci hopes to see that number grow.

“We’ve seen the power of what can be accomplished when a group of students get behind a mission,” he said.