MOUNT LEBANON (KDKA) — This is Cancer Awareness Week, and a Mount Lebanon High School senior takes it seriously.
Each day this week, Alex Needles has passed out different colored ribbons to home room teachers. Each color represents a different form of cancer.
His mother, Chris Needles, survived her second bout with breast cancer six years ago.
“I feel that other people, when they hear about the story, they can talk to best friends if they know they’re affected,” Alex says. “Because it’s more than just in the household. It’s in the schools and the community.”
Students support Alex’s mission, but some of the teachers and staff appreciate it even more. English teacher Connie Booth is a 10-year breast cancer survivor.
“It’s common and it happens, and I think he’s given kids strength in order to deal with cancer when it happens,” she says.
Guidance counselor Shelley Saba is a five-year survivor, while colleague Tara Leja’s best friend has cancer.
“I think what Alex has done, at least for me, not just here at the high school, but also at the elementary school where my kids attend is sort of allow them to be open about talking about their mom’s cancer,” Shelley says.
Tara says her friend has also had a positive effect. “You know we have pink-out football games,” she explains. “And they started because of her. And her situation, and giving students another reason to connect.”
Spanish teacher Lia Christulides lost her husband and mother to cancer.
Speaking of Alex, she says, “He recognizes not only the staff members who had cancer but those that have been touched by cancer through their families. As he has with his mother.”
Each ribbon says, “I’ve been there, too.”