Save the Boobs

It began with free lunch and 20 strangers awkwardly expecting to talk about boobs.

As these students entered Heritage Hall at FAU’s Davie campus for the “Save the Boobs” event, sponsored by the Broward Wellness Center, they had no idea exactly how much boob talk there was going to be. The all-female attendees were asked to introduce themselves as a way to break the ice.

While most of them expressed their desires to become more educated and aware about breast cancer and its dangers, there was a handful of students who were there in honor of family members whose lives were taken by the second-most deadly cancer found in women (skin cancer being the first).
“My mother died of breast cancer,” says biology major Alyson Campbell.
“I’m here to support her in spirit.”

According to the American Cancer Society, women who have breast cancer in their family history have a much greater risk of being diagnosed than those who don’t.

While one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, according to ACS, 2.5 million women have successfully survived the battle, thanks to early detection through monthly self-examinations.

That’s where Nikki Reifschneider, an FAU graduate student in the school of counseling, comes in.
“Our purpose today is to show the importance of breast self-awareness and to minimize the stresses some women have about performing monthly self-exams,” says Reifschneider, who organized and presented the event.

Students learned about the statistics surrounding breast cancer, its risk factors and how to prevent it. Then Reifschneider continued with an interactive presentation on how to perform a self-examination.

No, there weren’t ladies feeling themselves up. In fact, that is one stipulation that Reifschneider wanted to straighten out. “There is a three part process to a self-examination,” she said during the session.

First, as you stand in front of the mirror, look at your breasts and look for any differences with your hands at your side. Second, lift your arms up and feel around from armpit to cleavage and collarbone to right below your breasts. Finally, with your hands at your hips, bend forward and notice how your breasts fall. Look for irregularities in your breasts that you may not have noticed before.

“The most important thing is to know your own breasts … and look for differences,” says Reifschneider, who plans to make Save the Boobs an annual event. “Eighty percent of lumps are found in the armpit area. This exam should be done seven to 10 days after the first day of your period.”

There was even a teardrop-shaped blue rubber breast model, designed to show what a real tumor feels like.
“If it feels like a hard bean, then that’s not good,” says Melissa Lee, director of the Broward Wellness Center and FAU alumna.

The event ended with a Q & A session in which students received free gift certificates to local girly stores, and even a free hour massage for the student who could correctly demonstrate how to do a self-exam.

Broward Wellness Center nurse practitioner Claire McCarthy agrees the most important thing to remember is the self-exam.
“Whichever way you decide to, do it that way every time after,” she says.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

To learn more visit: www.cancer.org/breastcancer

Statistics:

Over 80% of breast lumps are not cancerous

1 in 8 women have the chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime

2.5 million women have survived their battle with breast cancer

80% of cancerous lumps are found in the armpit area

Source: American Cancer Society