BSU helps student with terminal cancer


Photo courtesy of Lindsey McFarland

BSU members raised $1,700 for Joshua McFarland, with son Aspen, after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Claudia Aceves, Staff Writer

After former Santa Rosa Junior College student Joshua McFarland was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, the Black Student Union (BSU) decided to take action and help him through the trying time by paying for his treatments through fundraising.

McFarland, 32, who has a 5-year-old son, first discovered he had pancreatic cancer on Feb. 22 after experiencing stomach pains. He ignored the pains until he developed jaundice, the yellowing of the skin and eyes, indicating something was seriously wrong. When he visited the hospital, McFarland learned he had one year to live.

McFarland worked at Safeway when he received his diagnosis, but because he was on a probation period before joining the union he was not covered by health insurance.

His sister, Lindsey, who works in SRJC’s Admissions and Records, said McFarland is doing chemotherapy in daily low dose pill form with the hopes of keeping the tumors at bay.

“The medication isn’t working as well as they’d like it to because the cancer is so deeply rooted,” Lindsey said.

Spearheading McFarland’s fight, Lindsey took her cause to Brian Phifer, assistant director of Student Affairs, and the BSU with McFarland’s story.

“We wanted to help,” said BSU student representative Elias Hinit. “We voted on it and everyone voted to raise $1,500.”

The BSU held car washes and two to three bake sales a week during the summer and into fall. By September, they raised the $1,500 and presented a check to Lindsey while McFarland was in the hospital.

Although they had reached their goal of $1,500, in October the club co-sponsored the writer, director, actor and comedian Donald Lacy for a one-man show titled “Colorstruck” at the Petaluma campus. Phifer, who personally knows Lacy, asked if he would be willing to do a show at no cost to the club for McFarland’s cause, “and he jumped at the occasion,” Hinit said.

“He used laughter to ease us into a really deep conversation about powerful social subjects,” Hinit said. “We raised about $200 there because not a lot of people went.”

“If I had a family member in that condition, I would want help too,” said BSU member Jenae Crosby. “I’m happy we got support from the people who helped donate for Joshua.”