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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Nonprofit teaches women to ‘check your boobies’

Check Your Boobies, a Seattle-based nonprofit organization that aims to educate women about breast cancer, visited campus early this week to educate sororities and health advocates. The UA is the first campus outside of Washington that Check Your Boobies has visited.

“Our hope is that the women who attend our programs take this information and they bring it back to their aunts and their moms and their grandmas because those are the women who are at the highest risk,” said Kayla Driscoll, Check Your Boobies’ college outreach coordinator.

The members of Gamma Phi Beta learned how to “check their boobies” at one of the organization’s six “parties” this week. But before learning about breast cancer risk factors and how to do self-breast exams, the girls heard Debra Minkove’s story. Minkove was one of nine survivors to share their stories. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 30s, after finding a “grape-sized lump” on her left breast while on a date.

Minkove said her life seemed to flash before her, and that she was afraid to lose her life, her hair and her breasts.

“Chemo lasted … like, eight months and I lost all of my hair everywhere, which was kind of nice not to shave, but then I was also like, ‘I’m bald!’” Minkove said. “But I invested in some really awesome wigs and, you know, rocked it.”

Minkove’s role on the tour was to explain that breast cancer isn’t a “death sentence,” and to prove that being proactive will allow an individual with breast cancer to overcome their condition, according to Driscoll.

Though the risk for breast cancer increases with age, Check Your Boobies targets college students in the hopes that they will share their knowledge and that they will get to know their body at an earlier age, making it easier to detect abnormalities later on.

“We also find with college students you guys are so knowledge-hungry and so interested and just want to learn it all, and so it’s kind of like you just soak it up like a sponge and … we’ve felt that it’s been a success,” Driscoll said.

Kim Schaaf, breast health educator for Check Your Boobies, had the sorority members actively engage in learning with a game of charades. The words and phrases that participants had to guess pertained to breast cancer risk factors such as environment, age and gender as well as smoking and drinking habits. Schaaf explained each factor after the members guessed correctly.

Driscoll, Minkove and Schaaf intend to create a laid-back and informal environment for their audience to engage and have fun in, they said.

“They had a very lively way of teaching us about the topic,” said Carly Halverson, a sophomore studying family studies and human development. “I’m someone who kind of has a short attention span, and I found myself listening and intrigued the entire time.”

Check Your Boobies representatives also tabled on the UA Mall on Tuesday and met with the head of the Women’s Resource Center to learn about breast health education available on campus, and to possibly collaborate in educating young adults about breast cancer awareness.

“We don’t really know what causes it (breast cancer), and we don’t know how to prevent it,” Schaaf said.

But although it is impossible to prevent breast cancer, Check Your Boobies aims to educate people on how to reduce the risk of getting cancer and to detect lumps in breasts at an early stage.

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