Surbhi Agarwal Raises Cancer Awareness
Surbhi Agarwal’s passion can be summed up in three words – All Things Pink.
That’s the name of the non-profit the USC senior founded to raise awareness of breast cancer in young women. All Things Pink hosts events filled with activities targeted at young women’s interests. Agarwal knew she was on to something when her first event, Pink Up Your Life, drew 125 young women.
“We’re for young women, by young women, so we know how to communicate and talk to our generation,” Agarwal explained, “I really want to push for all girls our age to be aware of breast cancer, and the things they can do to lower their risk.”
Agarwal’s interest in breast cancer awareness and prevention began when she was a 16-year-old hospital volunteer. She explained that she did “laboratory research about breast cancer and how obesity plays a factor in recurrence of the disease.” That interest has continued as she pursues a major in health promotion and disease prevention studies in the Keck School of Medicine and a minor in natural sciences in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. She decided to attend USC in part because of the opportunity to shadow Professor of Medicine Debasish Tripathy at both the USC Norris Cancer Hospital and LAC+USC Medical Center.
It’s been a mutually beneficial arrangement said Tripathy: “From understanding the biology of breast cancer genetics to applying concepts of management and inspiration to create a non-profit organization to raise awareness of breast cancer risk and prevention among young students and professionals, Surbhi has been able to weave her knowledge and abilities to drive a truly valuable effort.”
Agarwal looked to Tripathy for guidance when she formed the student organization, Trojans Preventing Cancer, which raises awareness of risk factors for cancer and the preventive measures associated with them. Agarwal particularly enjoys visiting local high schools to teach the students how to lower their risk for cancer. “We really focus on lifestyle factors – like how smoking can cause cancer and how alcohol consumption increases their risk for cancer,” she said.
But Agarwal wanted to do more: “I don’t want to just like have a student organization at USC. I want it to be something bigger and that’s how I started the non-profit.”
Agarwal’s experiences at USC have only strengthened her desire to make cancer prevention her life work. She plans to pursue a Master of Public Health and then apply to medical school with the goal of being an oncologist. The student organization she founded, Trojans Preventing Cancer, will be her USC legacy, and All Things Pink will continue to be an important part of her life.