Today is International Women’s Day and I wanted to use this opportunity to highlight an important issue which is affecting people close to me and probably people you love too.

Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, and today is the perfect chance to encourage the women in your life to check their breasts.

According to the NHS, in 2011, just under 50,000 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Most women who get it (8 out of 10) are over 50, but younger women, and in rare cases, men, can also get breast cancer.

If it’s treated early enough, breast cancer can be prevented from spreading to other parts of the body.

Helen's blog

Controlling the message about breast cancer

One of the wonderful and super smart comms pros I mentor, Helen Deverell @helenw7, who has written for my blog numerous times over the years, is currently receiving treatment for breast cancer. She was diagnosed in November 2014 aged just 29.

Helen wrote on her blog in January about controlling the message: how I told the world I had cancer. An extract from her post is below:

“A few weeks in and with a positive prognosis, the comms person in me kicked in and I decided to ‘control the message’. It was a matter of time until people would start to hear whispers and the last thing I wanted was gossip and people assuming I was dying.

“I was also shocked at how many other young women confessed to me that they didn’t do self-examinations as they either thought they were too young or too scared. If I hadn’t checked, my outlook could have been very different by the time it was discovered.

“I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in November. I had a lumpectomy and became cancer free also in November. I am currently on long term sick leave and receiving treatment but I will be ok. I’m really looking forward to seeing you all again in the summer albeit with slightly less hair!

“In the meantime, if you guys feel generous I have put links to some amazing charities below and please do all check your boobs!”

The charities Helen mentioned are:

The Younger Breast Cancer Network

YBCNHelen recently interviewed the founder of the Younger Breast Cancer Network (YBCN), a secret Facebook group for women diagnosed under the age of 45. You can read her interview with Vickie Yates here.

The YBCN has 1400 members, 17 sub-groups, and is managed by 14 volunteers. It is doing remarkable things to communicate, connect and help women.

You can follow the YBCN on Twitter (@YBCN_UK) or on its public Facebook page to find out more about the closed group.

What can you do?

CoppaFeel-logo_1_white-background_RGBThrough Helen I have discovered CoppaFeel, a breast cancer awareness charity that educates young people on the importance of checking their boobs regularly and knowing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.

They want people to know what your boobs look and feel like normally, to check your boobs regularly throughout your lifetime and have the confidence to see a doctor if you notice anything that doesn’t feel right for you.

So please, on this day of all days, encourage the women in your life to “cop a feel” and check themselves. It may just save their life.

See their website to find out more.

See this video from CoppaFeel to find out how:

Happy International Women’s Day and thank you to Helen for raising awareness of these charities and support networks.

Helen – you know already how much I admire your work and everything you do. I hope this post helps in a small way to support your tireless efforts to encourage people to cop a feel.

Rachel

Post author: Rachel Miller

First published on All Things IC blog 8 March 2015.

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