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Wisconsin teens dedicate 8 years to fighting breast cancer

By Natalie Shepherd

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    MILWAUKEE (WDJT) — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. CBS 58 is proud to once again be a part of the Susan G. Komen More than Pink Walk.

There are so many dedicated teams taking part to raise money to find a cure for breast cancer, and provide needed screenings and treatments in southeastern Wisconsin — including a pair of sisters who’ve had a team in the walk for the last eight years, and they’re only in high school.

Anvesha and Anushka Guru have been walking the halls at Brookfield Academy for years.

The sisters are involved in all kinds of different activities.

“We’re both on mock trial team, we’re on student council,” 15-year-old Anvesha said. “We love to spread our wings here at B.A., we really are involved in a lot of stuff.”

But it’s a project that Anvesha, who’s a junior this year, did all the way back in the third grade. That’s set the sisters on a very specific path.

“For some reason, I chose breast cancer. We tried to wrack our brains, figure out where it came from, no one knows,” she said.

Anushka, now a senior, remembers it for a different reason.

“No, it was not my project. All I remembered at the beginning, was that my little sister crashed my 10th birthday party to go talk to Susan G. Komen,” Anusha, 16, said.

Komen Wisconsin Executive Director Nikki Panico remembers it, too.

“A young girl, I don’t know, 8, 9, comes marching up to our breast cancer awareness display in the middle of Mayfair Mall,” Panico said. “And these beautiful eyes look up and me and say, what can you teach me about breast cancer?”

That question sparked a relationship with Komen that’s lasted eight years, and counting. Panico said it’s rare for a child to get so involved in the cause.

“She’s been the only one and I’ve been doing this work for a really long time,” Panico said.

“My family who knows me, knows when I get passionate about something I get really fired up about it,” Anvesha said.

She also kept the relationship going after that first meeting.

“Low and behold, Monday morning, there comes and email — hello Ms. Panico. We met at Mayfair Mall. I’m hoping you can send me more information about breast cancer,” Panico said of Anvesha’s follow-up.

It was the start of a long and meaningful relationship. The girls organized “Team Sai” and joined the Komen More than Pink Walk. They’ve walked and raised money every year since.

“We’ve been raised on doing service to other people, that serving other people is like a huge, huge part of how we grew up,” Anvesha said.

This year, their team is 20 people strong.

They held a big dance fundraiser recently.

“That became our biggest fundraising effort yet, where we raised about $4,000,” Anushka said.

And they can’t wait for the walk coming up on Sunday.

“Everyone’s so happy everyone has so much energy when you get there, that’s the first thing. It’s 7 in the morning and everyone is jumping off the walls excited,” Anushka said.

Panico is impressed with the years of effort for Komen- knowing all those years ago, the sisters are special.

“I’ve been sitting behind the camera, listening to this interview, with literally tears coming down my cheeks,” Panico said. “When I heard her presentation, I said to my staff, she’s going to find the cures for breast cancer.”

Anvesha and Anushka hope they can play a role in the fight, too.

The words on the wall at Brookfield Academy — Where Leaders Learn– ring true.

Both sisters plan to have careers treating and researching cancer.

“I want to be an oncologist when I’m older. Specifically with breast cancer,” Anvesha said.

“I want to be a doctor and I really want to research how environmental factors effect cancer,” Anushka added.

The Komen More than Pink Walk is this Sunday, October 9th at Henry Maier Festival Park. The gates open at 7 a.m., and the walk kicks off at 9:15. CBS is proud to be a part of the walk. Natalie Shepherd will be emceeing the event. For more information, visit their website.

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