“So this prosthetic breast just gives you an idea of what you’re actually looking for,” says Dr. Mandy Ward, as she holds up a model of a breast with two “tumors” embedded within to a group of 10 young female students. “When you’re doing a self-breast exam, lie down on [your] bed with a rolled-up towel under your shoulder and the outer side of your breast. You can also do this standing up, or in the shower, but breast tissue is easier to examine and feel if you are lying down.”
While dozens of female students waited in line along Ring Road last Tuesday, Oct. 14 to sample the new pink lemonade flavor from Emergen-C, they watched Dr. Ward, a breast health expert, as she continued to discuss the steps a young woman should take to conduct a breast self-exam. She raised her index and middle finger and continued, “You’re going to want to start at the top of the breast and work your way down. Be sure to move your fingers in small circular motions, applying light, medium and deeper pressure before moving your fingers to the next area.”
During her presentation, two women from Dr. Ward’s camp handed out breast self-exam cards that detailed the steps she had gone over. “There are a lot of various tissue in the breast, ladies,” she finished, “but what you’re going to be looking for is a hard and firm lump.” Several students nodded; a few stopped to inquire about their own concerns regarding the different forms of breast-examinations, while others shuffled ahead to retrieve their free drinks, Roxy flip-flops and cotton candy.
In a few minutes, Dr. Ward would give the short demonstration again to a new batch of curious females.
So why is learning how to give yourself a breast self-exam important? San Francisco native Gina Minardi explained, “I was surprised at how much women don’t know about giving themselves an exam. I mean, the more people know, the less they have to rely on getting themselves to treatment at a later age when the cancer is usually more aggressive.”
Minardi is a part of the Emergen-C PINK tour, which launched this October, and partnered up with Roxy to support the Keep-A-Breast foundation. Their first annual PINK tour, which focuses on breast cancer awareness and prevention education, traveled to all the University of California schools and the University of Southern California to raise awareness and educate young women about breast cancer prevention. The tour, which traveled via Emergen-C’s hot pink RV also featured breast health expert Dr. Mandy Ward from the Breast Health and Wellness Center and World Champion surfer and Roxy team rider Jennifer Smith.
From selling pink cotton candy to passing out make-your-own flip flops, provided by Roxy on a suggested-donation basis, to Emergen-C’s vitamin drink, the vividly colored booth attracted their desired demographic: young people.
Minardi, whose mother passed away from cancer, believes in activism and awareness.
“I’m feeling very empowered to be a part of this tour. I love how much more this organization emphasizes prevention, awareness and educating women about the environmental causes of breast cancer, rather than just telling them to wait until they’re 40 to get a mammogram when it could be too late,” Minardi said.
One simple thing that women can do is to not leave water bottles out in the sun.
“Research shows that when you leave a water bottle for a long time out in the sun, it releases toxins into the water that can heighten the risk of getting breast cancer,” said Mike Gordon, promotional coordinator for Emergen-C.
As one of the only men on the tour, breast cancer is an issue that has heavily affected Gordon’s family. At seven years old, his aunt died from breast cancer. One year later, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, but she is now a breast cancer survivor.
Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. Although it is not very common, men between the ages of 60 to 70 years old are also at risk of suffering from this disease. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention advocates that the best way to find breast cancer is with a mammogram, which women should get every one to two years once they reach the age of 40. Keep-A-Breast organization, on the other hand, seeks to educate.
“[Keep-A-Breast works to] increase breast cancer awareness among young people,” states its Web site, “so that they are better equipped to make choices and develop habits that will benefit their long-term health and well-being.”