By Courtney Koleda, Contributing Writer
According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will develop breast cancer within her lifetime. The prevalence of this cancer spawned a movement, known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, lasting the entirety of October to promote education about early detection and screening. This month, in support of this international campaign, The Student Body Boutique is having a “Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign”, where students who spend 20 dollars or more in the store this month will receive a free breast cancer awareness scrunchie.
Sophomore fashion merchandising major and head of merchandising of the Student Body Boutique, Anna Johnson, reflected upon the upcoming event.
“[The campaign is] a time when you can identify with other people who have gone through the struggle of having someone in their family who has breast cancer.”
The campaign is more than just a promotion of early detection and testing, but rather, an opportunity for conversation and empathy.
In 2016, Johnson’s life changed when her aunt, Apryl Roberts, was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. She now faces regular chemotherapy and an onslaught of daily medications which have stripped her of her once very active lifestyle, yet this diagnosis has not taken away her spirit. Johnson describes her aunt as “the badass with breast cancer” and “the strongest person [she] knows.”
Johnson’s personal experience with breast cancer is her greatest motivation for involvement within this event in order to empower women to start conversation and educate themselves upon early detection. She adds that it is the goal of the Student Body Boutique to truly uphold and advance the values of these culturally relevant movements. Moreover, the Student Body Boutique intends to promote those same beliefs among their customer base and educate them with regard to the significance of their campaigns.
Junior musical theatre major Hannah Winston’s grandmother passed away on Oct. 11, 2016 from breast cancer.
“She was diagnosed with stage four, and it spread to her leg. She was so scared of losing her hair, but she never lost it,” Winston said. “She was a big smoker. One of the first things we did when we found out we helped her quit smoking cold turkey. We got her nicotine patches and fumigated her house. She came and lived in our house for a bit. It was good to have her there. She fought really hard. We were fortunate to have her with us for as long as she was before she passed.”
Winston’s family became advocates for breast cancer awareness, she recalls having her grandmother’s name on her volleyball shirt for pink-out games in high school, and attending numerous fundraising events to support cancer research.
“It has instilled a lot of community in my family. It’s important to support people when they need it most,” Winston said. “If you’re a woman, you need to get tested for breast cancer. You need to be proactive, or you will find out too late. It’s too important to not be on top of.”
When the overabundance of merchandise dawning pink ribbons are cleared from the shelves of stores, media presence of the disease begins to dwindle and October comes to a close, it continues to be the responsibility of men and women alike to promote awareness. It is key to understand one’s risk factors pertaining to sex, age, family history and race. Although it is not likely for the students of Post to develop breast cancer, as its primary victims are women ages 55 and older, an understanding of signs, symptoms and prevention methods may be of support to those individuals whose loved ones suffer from breast cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms can vary among affected individuals, or may not present at all. Symptoms include lumps on the breast or underarm, pain, abnormal discharge, morphological changes and irregularities of the skin, including redness and dimpling.
While there are many irreparable risk factors including age, genetic mutations, extended hormonal exposure due to early menstrual periods, family/personal history and previous radiation therapy, there are methods of risk reduction. The CDC recommends maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol, breastfeeding and corresponding with healthcare professionals regarding the risks of inherited changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as the risks of hormone replacement therapy and birth control.
To learn more about breast cancer, refer to www.cdc.gov. To learn more about the Student Body Boutique’s campaign, follow the store’s Instagram @thestudentbody_liu.