Colleges Against Cancer member honors sister with fundraising, activism

Communication major sophomore Cecilia Massara joined the Geneseo community during the fall 2017 semester and has distinguished herself by becoming actively involved in Colleges Against Cancer. Massara has set a fundraising goal of $800 this year to honor her sister, who died from bone and tissue cancer. (Annalee Bainnson/photo editor)

Cecilia Massara’s involvement with the fight against cancer began when she came to Geneseo. 

Massara transferred from Keuka College during fall 2017 and is now a communication major in the second semester of her sophomore year. She has found an accepting community at Geneseo after experiencing a horrible tragedy.  

“I transferred from Keuka College this past fall and I’d never been involved with Relay For Life before, until my older sister Andrea who was 24 passed away from cancer this January,” Massara said. 

“I came back this semester to Geneseo and I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to do something,’ Massara said. “So I joined Colleges Against Cancer and I started volunteering, and it’s been helping me overcome my grief and I feel like I’m really doing something—I don’t feel helpless.” 

Massara’s sister had a rare bone and tissue cancer known as Ewin’s Sarcoma. She chose to end chemotherapy in October 2017 due to the unbearable pain it involved. She fought a three-year battle and was just a few credits short from graduating from the University of Arizona with a 4.0. 

After her sister’s passing, Massara came into this semester with a drive to make a change. On Jan. 15, she spoke with the president of Colleges Against Cancer on-campus and discussed ways in which she could get involved. 

“All I can say is that Colleges Against Cancer has given me a purpose unlike any other. That’s why I try so hard and keep doing what I’m doing,” she said. “Especially in the first few weeks of this semester, they played a big part in motivating me to go out and fundraise and to attend meetings.”

Massara is a part of the athletic committee for Colleges Against Cancer, and is in charge of reaching out to the various sports teams on-campus to encourage them to raise more money for Relay For Life. 

“We have basically every sports team signed up and we are trying to encourage them to fundraise more,” Massara said. “It gets me talking to people I wouldn’t normally talk to on a daily basis, so that’s been good.”  

Massara’s fundraising goal for Relay this year is $800. She is currently a little more than half way toward her goal and is optimistic about reaching it. Massara also mentioned that she will be shaving her head this year at the Relay For Life event on-campus for a non-profit organization known as Shave for the Brave.

“I just want cancer patients to know that they are not alone and that we feel what they are going through. I asked my best friend Morgan if she would shave my head and of course she thought I was crazy—everyone was thinking ‘why would you do this,’” she said. “I just feel like it is something I need to do.” 

As far as the future goes, Massara plans on being actively involved with the fight against cancer for the remainder of her life. She has set future goals for herself and will strive to work toward them each and every day. 

“I plan on supporting as many fundraisers as I can this year. I hope to be on the e-board next year for Colleges Against Cancer, and maybe even be the president my senior year,” Massara said. “I just want to spread awareness and I feel like it’s such a great thing that Geneseo has.”

“Our Relay For Life is one of the biggest in the nation—that’s pretty amazing considering we are such a small school,” Massara continued. “In the future I’d love to maybe one-day work for the American Cancer Society and to continue volunteering as well.”  

Massara’s perseverance has motivated her to raise awareness and contribute to a cause that is so meaningful to her. When asked how she maintains such a positive outlook on life, she paused briefly.

“[My sister Andrea] just really inspires me,” Massara said. “She inspires me to do the best I can every day.”