Clare O'Neill, Healthcare Engagement Coordinator at CoppaFeel! on the tools they have created to support with breast awareness and their key recommendations
At CoppaFeel! we know that knowing your boobs can save your life. Our founder, Kris Hallenga, set up our breast cancer awareness and education charity 10 years ago, when she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer at just 23 years old. Kris wanted to make sure that no other young person would go through her experience of being told she was ‘too young’ for her symptoms to be breast cancer. That’s why, for 10 years, we have been encouraging you to check your boobs/pecs/chests, educating you on the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and empowering you to seek medical advice if you notice anything that isn’t normal for you.
As a charity we have made great progress over our first decade, and some of our proudest achievements include helping to get cancer education on the curriculum, 74,000 boob-check reminder texts going out every month, and our shiny new Boob Bot (a messenger assistant that talks you through a boob-check). Last year we launched our Grab Life By The Boobs campaign which reached around 45% of 18-24 year olds in the UK.
Our work is motivated by the knowledge that early diagnosis saves lives. The relatively high survival rate for breast cancer is predicated on the fact that 75.4% of breast cancer patients are diagnosed at stage 1 or 2. The NHS wants to increase that number to 90% of breast cancers diagnosed early, by 2028. Self-checking is the first line of defence, so by informing and empowering people to know their bodies, we aim to stamp out late diagnosis. Self-checking is a lifesaving component of self-care, which can often be overlooked amongst healthcare professionals, so we want to establish these healthy behaviours for yourselves and not just your patients.
As well as educating the public, our work also includes working alongside healthcare professionals in order to increase breast awareness among patients. We are growing our engagement by attending events, supplying patient information materials, and developing a ‘health roadshow’ to target specific patient groups with worse breast cancer outcomes or different needs, such as people with disabilities, pregnant women, and people from a BAME background.
Our health messaging is available on our website, but to sum up, here are our key boob-checking recommendations:
1. Check whichever way feels comfortable for you.
2. Get to know what normal feels like for you.
3. Check regularly. Roughly once a month.
4. Check up to your collarbones and under your armpits.
5. If you notice any changes or anything that seems unusual for you, monitor for a week and then get it checked out with a GP.
To order your free pack of resources for patients or posters/slides for your practice, go to: coppafeel.org/at-surgeries
For more information, go to: coppafeel.org