As some of you may have seen, the Breast’n’Test Awareness Workshop was recently published in Belfast Live which was so exciting! I thought I’d give you a bit of background about the workshops and how you can start your own at your workplace or university. I want this to go to as many universities and workplaces as possible, to educate people on the importance of knowing your body and looking after yourself.
The Process That Started the Workshops
So I thought of the Breast’n’Test workshop in my second year of university after I found a lump in my underarm. I spent months in such fear as to what it was. I saw so many doctors and didn’t seem to get any answers. Thank god for my best friends and boyfriend at the time who were godsends in dealing with my anxiety and coaching me through everything that was going on. About 3 to 4 months after finding the lump, I went for an ultrasound and got a letter to say that the lump seemed fine. That was it. I’m still unsure as to what it is, but all considered we think it’s a lipoma, which is a fatty lump of tissue (benign). Anyway, I started avidly checking my breasts for lumps, which I could always feel. Turns out, I was feeling milk ducts and mistaking them for something dangerous, which made my anxiety spiral. After I found out I’d be OK, I decided to message the SU and request an awareness clinic. I got in touch with Cancer NI, who are absolutely incredible. They never questioned me or made my idea difficult to pursue. They offered to hold the workshops for free. However, the SU tried to charge me for a room… absolutely not. I then kept emailing them over the course of the year and started to get little to no response. In my third year (final), Sasha Hurst, my amazing workshop partner, told me about the SU council meetings, whereby we can put forth ideas for the Su to discuss. After sitting through this meeting (4 hours- no joke), the student council didn’t get to deliberate on our idea, despite our host trying to put it forward. After the meeting was done, I was so frustrated. I was worried the workshops wouldn’t go through and soon I wouldn’t be a student, meaning the chances of them going through would decrease even more. I emailed our host who got back to me a few days later saying that the council will pass the idea despite it not being discussed. YAY!
Why are they important?
Recent statistics show that 1 in 2 people will get cancer, breast and testicular cancer is one of the largest cancer killers. Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in females 0-34yrs in the UK and testicular cancer is the most prevalent cancer in males 0-34yrs in the UK (Globocan 2018).
We also conducted a survey and found that 92% of QUB students have never been to or been offered the chance to visit a clinic that teaches cancer awareness (1435 responses to survey).
78% of students who took our survey don’t know how to properly check themselves.
How Can YOU Start a Breast’n’Test Awareness Workshop?
It’s really simple. Find a local cancer charity and email and ask whether they would be able to hold a seminar/lecture/tutorial which teaches people how to check themselves.
Find a room in your workplace/university in which the workshop can take place
Create slots such as: Female/ Male/ Mixed Gender seminars to be inclusive
Promote, promote, promote!
One way in which we will be promoting it is getting students across campus to volunteer as Breast’n’Test Ambassadors, encouraging people to attend the workshop!
It’s incredibly simple but so effective. The more people who learn how and when to check themselves and others, the more lives we can hopefully save in the future.
If you have any questions or worries, drop me a request form and I can help you through the process of starting your workshop.
Stay safe, happy and healthy.