Page 3 and Coppafeel

In the UK there is a newspaper called The Sun which has printed photos of topless girls on its Page 3 for as long as I can remember. It is the kind of paper that many buy it because of its ‘excellent sports coverage’. It is rather sad that in 2014 a newspaper is still using topless girls to sell papers, but it is the kind of paper that younger people read. Why is this important? The numbers of younger women who get breast cancer is rising, and often it is a case that if breast cancer presents in a younger person it is also more aggressive. The Sun is running a campaign with the charity Coppafeel to promote awareness and get younger women to check their breasts. In the UK mammography screening starts when you are 50 years old and is done every three years. However when I got my letter inviting me to have a mammogram when I turned 50 in 2010 I had to contact them to say that they were already too late because I had breast cancer and it was Stage IV. Whether you agree with Page 3 Girls or not if this gets the message over then so be it. Feminism isn’t going to help you when you have Metastatic Breast Cancer, and lets face it most of those who read The Sun aren’t really that interested in Feminism.

In the associated video the founder of Coppafeel Kristin Hallenga mentions that she was diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer at the age of 23. She admits that she ignored symptoms because she didn’t think that she could get breast cancer at such a young age, and also that it took a while for her doctor to take it seriously as well. This is another big hurdle; the idea that breast cancer is a disease which only affects older woman. Not so. The majority of those diagnosed might be 60+ but we are talking about the form of cancer that affects large numbers of women. If my GP had taken me more seriously I may have been diagnosed at an earlier stage, and there were even cancer markers which are used for breast cancer that showed I might have cancer 5 years before my diagnosis. Of course this doesn’t mean that I would have been a survivor because 30% of those diagnosed with early stage breast cancer will go on to be diagnosed with Metastatic BC, but my chances might have been better. I am now 54 and 6 years down the path of Metastatic BC.

Coppafeel are trying to get the message over to teenagers and young adults that they need to be checking their breasts on a regular basis and going to the doctor if there are any changes. This is an age group that checks their weight more often than their breasts because they assume it is just ‘old people’ who get BC. But if there is one girl who takes the message seriously and not only checks herself, but also makes sure her mother does the same there will be many more under the age of 50 who will stand a chance of making it to pensionable age, and beyond. Coppafeel uses social media and text messages to reach out and will send a monthly text to remind someone to check their boobs. They use adverts and language that is different to that used by other BC charities, but again, if it gets the message over …

If younger people get used to checking themselves and know the symptoms more people can be helped. Also checking your own breasts does not have the health risks that mammograms do. Self examination can also be as effective at mammograms at finding BC, it was the way I found mine at the ago of 47.

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