The Pink Week team's trip to the Future Dream's houseFunmi Sowole

Every year, around February, the buzz around ‘Pink Week’ spreads across the University. Founded in 2014 as a way to educate about and raise money for breast cancer care, it has since become a staple of Lent term. With a wide range of events put on each year, the week promises something for everyone. Amid the final preparations, I spoke to Funmi Sowole, this year’s Pink Week President, to learn more.

Funmi, a second year Architecture student at Christ’s, first heard about Pink Week at her Fresher’s Fair. She was initially drawn in by the array of pink sweets at the stall, but upon further research into the society, she knew she wanted to get involved. As the most common cancer, making up 11.7% of cancer diagnoses internationally in 2020, the issue has personal significance for many, and, like others on the committee, Funmi has been affected: both her mother and aunt have had it. Only in Year three, when her mother was diagnosed, Funmi “didn’t really know what was going on… it was just a really hard time for our family.”

Her mother recovered, but reflecting on the experience later made Funmi realise “neither of them told any of their families – so they told their immediate family but everyone else just heard about it in bits and pieces… you kind of realise that there’s a lot of stigma connected to it… it’s like you’re going through it alone, and I’m just thinking how much harder that must have made it.” Attending the Pink Week Ball last year gave Funmi “a way to celebrate… [and] time to reflect on what I’ve been through, what my family’s been through.” When the applications opened for 2023, she decided to go for president.

“It’s just not something that you really talk about”

Leading one of the University’s largest student societies and preparing a multitude of events is not a simple task. The process has been lengthy. Last summer, Funmi and a team of around 40 people chose charities to support and educational pillars to promote, before moving onto event planning and finding sponsorships. However, Funmi struggles to name the hardest part of the planning – beyond that fact that the “time goes really, really fast.” Instead, her feelings about the process lean towards enthusiasm and passion for breast cancer awareness.

Pink Week is all about education: raising awareness about breast cancer, including how to check for it and how to start conversations about it. The pillars were created to facilitate these goals, this year being inclusivity, community, mental health and breast cancer in everyday life. It is clear that these topics mean a lot to Funmi. “It’s just not something that you really talk about… for the committee that know people who have been affected by breast cancer, they’ve never really got to talk about it.”

“What sustains it is that people know what they’re raising money for”

Funmi lights up when talking about the charities – engaging with them has been “the best part”. This year, Pink Week is raising money for Breast Cancer UK, CoppaFeel!, Future Dreams, and Maggie’s. As part of their interaction, the society was able to visit the Future Dreams House, set up as a breast cancer support centre. Funmi is also quick to show me some of the Maggie’s centres, buildings designed by architects specifically to provide a calming space for when “being in a hospital just makes it worse… you want to have some place to go to.” Knowing what the donations are going towards has been a huge motivator for the Pink Week team – “they have so many stories, and how passionate they are… it’s amazing that we get to help them.”


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Funmi kept the pillar of inclusivity in mind when planning the events, leading to a range from Zumba and yoga to cabaret and open mic, as well as collaborations with prominent societies such as The Footlights and Cambridge Women in Business. Though Funmi confesses :“literally every event I’m really excited for,” it becomes clear that she is most enthusiastic aboutwhat students get out of the events, all of which will have an educational aspect. “I hope that people see the events and really know what their money is going towards… that they’re going to make a difference… I just hope it encourages conversations.”

The legacy of Pink Week in Cambridge is strong – with next year being the ten year anniversary of its founding. Having seen huge increases in its yearly fundraising in that time, the week promises to grow even bigger from here. “Every year you see the impact, and you understand it a little bit more… you’re raising money but what sustains it is that people know what they’re raising money for.” Ultimately, however, for Funmi the goal will always remain the same: “that people come in and understand that they’re making a difference by coming to events… just going to an event probably helped a couple of people, so you’ll be impacting lives.”