Just a warning before we begin, there will be a photo of breasts in this post. Not my own you naughty lot. But when you see the image I hope you'll see why I decided to include it. October is synonomous with breast cancer awareness. With statistics claiming 1 in 3 of us will be effected in some way it is something that will change the lives of many. Over the years Cancer has not only become the heartbreak of its sufferers and their nearest, but has become public knowledge. Unless you are a very young child or living in the remotest of places. Cancer awareness is everywhere. On posters, magazines, tv adverts to even having it's own fundraising show and merchandise available from lots of well known shops, with a percentage of each sale going to breast cancer charities. It is easily the most 'marketed' illness. So there is plenty of awareness out there.
However the type of awareness that is needed more of and could make such a big difference is in the detection of it. Sometimes if caught early enough the more hope there is of positive outcomes. The less chance the cancer has of progressing or spreading. Like they say early detection saves lives. Especially in younger patients. And luckily we are seeing more and more of this kind of awareness. Unfortunately many a person in their 20s and 30s may be told they are too young to have breast cancer, which can delay detection and is also grossly untrue. Unfortunately too many women are being told they're too young and therefore going untreated. These are the women that will likely lose their lives to cancer due to this negligence. So I feel it is important for everyone to learn what is normal for them. In order to go to your doctor with utter conviction if there is a change.
This is what happened to Coppafeel's founder Kris Hallenga, who after originally being told she was too young was refused further investigation but was later diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. This experience has spurred her into making sure more women can identify any changes and acting on them. Coppafeel is a charity Kris founded specifically to educate about self examination and early detection. And ever since they have been making waves. You might remember they took over page 3 for their #checkemTuesday campaign. Their latest campaign #whatnormalfeelslike is aimed precisely at everyone getting to know what is normal for them. Although controversial for it's billboard sized breasts. It's aim is to teach women more ways to describe their boobs and not just big or small. They even have a reminder service so you don't forget. Simply give them the details of how you wish to be contacted and receive regular reminders, which I think is an excellent service. For more information about Coppafeel visit their website.
Nestle Fitnesss have also done a remember to check style campaign too. They hid a camera in a bra (don't worry the woman knew about it) to capture just how many times breasts get 'checked out' on a daily basis. The message kind of being other people check them so so should you. Hmmm perhaps not the greatest way to be spreading the message but at least in the video it's not just men looking gratuously at them. View the video here.
I think it's important though that we don't just make these campaigns just for women. There are lots of phrases like 'fight like a girl' related to breast cancer sufferers but what we have to remember is that men get breast cancer too. And I'm sure many that do feel an element of embarrassment that they have a 'womens' cancer. Lately the American NFL came under scruitany for it's efforts to raise awareness from people saying they do not support other women's issues and are not doing enough; just wishing to be seen as doing their bit. However this could be a way of making breast cancer awareness less feminine orientated and encouraging males to be vigilant too. So encourage the men in your life to get checking their chests too.
I think that campaigns need to move away from being gender specific. Who knows the relevance of where we keep our handbags, what colour knickers we're wearing or posting a no make-up selfie has to breast cancer anyhow? I also feel that some campaigns can be deemed too sexual, like the breast cam above and the recent no bra day. It goes against everything the serious campaigns are striving for.
In the bid to promote early detection and education about what normal is like for each person, I'm sharing the image below with information for both females and males.
Early detection and learning how to self examine is the best solution for prevention and improving survival statistics. The NHS in England allot 95.6 billion into cancer research and treatments each year and add to that the millions raised by all the cancer charities. We are reassured that plenty is being done to help beat cancer but it's equally important that we play our part. Perhaps more so. It's our bodies.