University of Vermont

Microphilanthropy campaign addresses connection between alcohol and tobacco use and cancer

Dr. Gagne discusses impact of alcohol, tobacco use on cancer development
Dr. Havaleh Gagne presents the relationship between alcohol and tobacco use and cancer risk

Students in the Organization of Medical Radiation Sciences raised $500 through microphilanthropy to host a presentation for students, faculty and staff on the relationship between smoking and alcohol use and cancer development.  

With the support of College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dean Patricia Prelock and The University of Vermont Foundation, the organization reached its campaign goal through social media and e-mail outreach and invited Havaleh Gagne, MD ‘03, assistant professor of radiology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and a radiation oncologist at Fletcher Allen Health Care, to host the presentation September 19 in Davis Auditorium.

Dr. Gagne presented graphic images of patients with tobacco and alcohol-related cancers, and shared tissue samples from a normal, healthy lung and the diseased tissue of a smoker’s lung, as well as a cirrhotic liver, to illustrate the damaging biological impact tobacco and alcohol can have on the body.

Senior radiation therapy major Lauren Elwell, who serves as co-secretary and co-treasurer of the Organization of Medical Radiation Sciences, said the presentation proved a meaningful effort to raise awareness about the cancer-causing effects of tobacco and alcohol on behalf of the organization.

“Being in the clinic multiple times a week, we see many patients with different smoking- and drinking-related cancers: Cancers that could have been avoided,” said Elwell. “We wanted to impart some of the knowledge that we have to other people, so they are able to make educated, healthier choices for themselves.”

Microphilanthropy is a model of giving that engages recipients and donors at a very personal level. The College of Nursing and Health Sciences promotes this practice among student groups as a model of leadership that develops students' sense of social responsibility while increasing opportunities for international and multicultural experiential learning and research for their benefactors.