‘MEGA Lungs’ exhibit spreads awareness about lung cancer, vaping

Gauri Raje, News Editor

On Thursday, Nov. 17, the “MEGA Lungs” walk-through exhibit was on display at UTSA’s Main Campus. The 12-foot high, 15-foot wide, 10-foot long exhibit was an inflatable model of the human lungs rented from Medical Inflatables.

Ashton Balarin, the wellbeing education coordinator at UTSA’s Wellbeing Services, explained that the exhibit was funded by a sponsor for Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio. The latter was looking for a location to display the exhibit, and UTSA’s Main Campus served as the perfect location.

“We’re just hosting it … since we have the space and we have a community here of younger students that we want to educate on cancer prevention and lung health,” Balarin said.

The exhibit was displayed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Sombrilla Plaza. Students had the opportunity to walk through it and learn more about the anatomy of the human lungs. Information about the lungs and conditions affecting the respiratory system, like lung cancer, were also part of the exhibit.

“It’s meant to educate students on the structures and the functions of the lung[s], diseases that affect the respiratory tissue as a result [of] smoking [or] any other trauma and then as you walk through, there are some displays within the [exhibit] that talk about vaping, or … lung cancer that you can read up and learn a little bit more [about] as you walk through,” Balarin said. 

While it was on display, many students stopped by to walk through the exhibit, read the information presented and take pictures with the giant lungs. Students also had the opportunity to interact with representatives from various organizations, including UTSA Wellbeing Services, Rowdy New U, the Recovery Center, Mays Cancer Center, UT School of Nursing and the American Cancer Society, which all had set up tables near the exhibit. 

The inflatable was displayed on the same day as the Great American Smokeout, an event on the third Thursday of November that encourages people to quit smoking. 

“Smoking can be really hard for someone to quit and so Great American Smokeout advocates that it only starts with one day. It can be really hard, so why not start on a day when other people might be quitting [as well],” Balarin said.