‘Checking your chest isn’t only fun, it could save your life’: We spoke to Notts Uni Boob

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month it’s important to remember that people of all genders can get breast cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it’s a time to show support for everyone affected by breast cancer. We spoke with Nottingham Uni Boob President Olivia Yeomans. Uni Boob works with renowned charity CoppaFeel! to raise awareness of breast cancer, particularly amongst youth, as CoppaFeel!’s founder, Kris Hallenga, was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer at the age of 23.

CoppaFeel! are the first UK breast cancer charity to create awareness amongst young people, with the aim to instil a new healthy behaviour that could one day save a life. They are on a mission to ensure breast cancer is diagnosed early and correctly by getting the nation to check their chest regularly.

What is Uni Boob’s goal?

Olivia said: “Our goal as the Uni Boob team and CoppaFeel! is to give everyone the best possible chance of surviving breast cancer- primarily through awareness. CoppaFeel! exists to educate and remind every young person in the UK that checking their chest isn’t only fun, it could save their life.

“Breast cancer will affect one in seven women in their lifetime, with 400 men being diagnosed annually in the UK. Everyone has breast tissue and people of all genders can get breast cancer. Since 2010, 45 UBT teams at universities across the country have been raising awareness. From hijacking your showers, boobs bingo and pink week to throwing infamous glitter parties, we’re well-equipped at getting students to cop a feel!”

Olivia got involved with Uni Boob after seeing their stall at Freshers’ Fair: “I was instantly attracted to how I could get involved and contribute to an amazing cause as well as having fun through being in a society. Volunteering opportunities within the society such as bake sales were also a reason I joined as it’s an easy way to give back to a great cause. Membership is free too.”

Do students experience shame around checking their body?

“There is definitely shame around checking your body, especially boobs and balls. Particularly boobs due to fear, anxiety, and embarrassment as well as the sexualisation of females which plays a part in stopping women checking and attending breast screenings.

She added: “I don’t think there is enough education around checking your body. Most of my friends at university, male and female, don’t know how to check their body or the importance of checking which results in shame around it.”

“There is also a state of denial with checking your body, with many people thinking cancer would never happen to them. I think there is a clear perception that it’s only people aged 40 plus who are affected by cancers such as breast cancer, whereas new statistics published by Cancer Research UK shows that one in five breast cancers is now in women under 50.

“I also think there is a stigma around breast cancer as many people think it only affects women, when in fact 400 men a year get diagnosed with breast cancer. We all have breast tissues, and breast cancer can affect anybody, regardless of age or gender.”

How students can get involved

Students can get involved in many ways. The easiest way is through signing up for a monthly text reminder from CoppaFeel! that prompts and reminds you to check (Text UBT NOTTS to 82228). Another easy way is by joining the society and through attending UBT events as it gets people talking about checking your bodies but also about breast cancer in younger age categories.

“You can also get involved with UBT teams through volunteering opportunities such as helping with shower hijacking, where we hijack showers at our university gym with cheeky checking reminders and stickers. This helps instil a healthy habit that will ensure any unusual changes are detected at the earliest stage possible, where treatment options are more successful and survival rates are higher.

“Getting involved can also be as easy as wearing pink to a sports training session, this is an event we call Pink Week and is something that we are encouraging in Breast Cancer Awareness month. Pink week is great as it collaborates with UoN sports teams to raise awareness around breast cancer and helps break the stigma that it’s only a female issue as many male dominated sport teams get involved.”

Uni Boob events

Some events that Uni Boob are doing this year include UoN Darts x UBT “CoppaFeel! cup” at Bierkeller, where money is being raised through donations as well as pink themed drinks being sold with a percentage of the profits going towards CoppaFeel!

“We are also doing themed events such as “tits” the season bauble decorating sessions, Boobs Bingo, Boob bar crawl and Boob mug painting. All of these will require a donation to participate, regardless of how big or small, to our just giving page. These will be happening over the next few weeks so keep your eyes peeled.”

If you have been impacted by this article, you can find advice about breast cancer in women from the NHS here, and breast cancer in men here. You can find support from the university here. Read more about Kris’ story and the work that CoppaFeel! does here

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