Weber State University students felt the grip of golf clubs at the Feel ’Em Up Cup golf tournament to benefit survivors of breast cancer and raise awareness for younger patients.
The tournament was the brainchild of a husband in the Young Survivor Sisters breast cancer support group. The first game was held at Thanksgiving Pointe, and the season finale was held at the Ogden Golf and Country Club. Individuals and teams from across the state signed up to participate.
Ginger Johnson is the founder of Happy Chemo! and a former student of WSU. She is also a breast cancer survivor and “felt” her own cancer when she was 31 and pregnant. The tournament was named the Feel ’Em Up Cup in order to help younger women who find themselves in similar situations, the majority of whom either find their cancer themselves or have it discovered by their husbands or partners.
“Mammograms are recommended for women over 40,” Johnson said. “But if you’re younger, like I was, there’s no set screening for that. So we wanted to create a tournament where it’s a little tongue-in-cheek, and it’s a little play on words, but the point was to really increase awareness in younger women about early breast cancer detection.”
WSU posted the tournament on its student page, which enabled several players to come out and participate. Amongst these players was John Paulsen, a graduate student majoring in business, who finished in eighth place; Cole Gilfillan, a major in technical sales, who finished in 64th, and Travis Johnson, who finished in 99th.
“Their participation was really, I feel, something that helped us spread the word about breast cancer awareness in younger women,” Johnson said.
She went on to talk about how these tournaments are creating awareness about breast cancer in younger women. More than 170 women in Utah have been diagnosed in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Johnson said she felt they hadn’t even scratched the surface in terms of the amount of young women who get the disease.
“(They hold this tournament) because college-age girls need to realize what’s going on with their bodies,” she said. “And it’s kind of at that age where you don’t think anything can happen to you, but the youngest girl in Utah just got diagnosed at age 15 with breast cancer.”
Proceeds from the tournament go to benefit the Happy Chemo! R and R fund, which stands for “recovery and ridiculous medical bills.” Breast cancer survivors can submit their stories to Happychemo.com, which selects survivors to receive money.
Kate Paulsen, a WSU senior who majors in health promotion and took an internship with Happy Chemo!, served as Johnson’s assistant and helped with organizing and promoting the event. She talked about what inspired her most about the tournament.
“First of all, it’s just getting the word out there to all these young women who don’t know when something’s wrong with their body, and they don’t know what to do when it’s wrong,” she said, “and also, to give back some money to the survivors who really need it.”
Gilfillan said he decided to participate because he wanted to support Paulsen, who is a recent survivor of cancer. He was also a friend of her husband.
“I thought listening to Ginger’s story and what they actually do was pretty cool,” Gilfillan said. “It’s not all about prevention, but about actually helping people who are going through chemo.”