Kent Boob Team Interview, with president Grace Couch, Secretary Georgina Edwards and Fundraising officer Lauren McGuinness.
Q: Tell me a little bit about who you guys are and what it is you do.
A: We are the University Boob team, which is a branch of Coppafeel. Coppafeel is a charity that works towards spreading awareness about breast cancer in young people. The charity was set up by Kris Hallenga about nine years ago. She was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal breast cancer when she was about 23. She found a lump, didn’t think anything of it, mentioned it to her mum who had the same reaction. They both assumed young people didn’t get breast cancer. It was only when she began experiencing pain that she went to the doctors. She has been living with it now for the last ten years, spreading to her bones and brain. She began the charity only nine months after her diagnosis, wanting to spread awareness that breast cancer can also affect young people. There are about 60 University Boob teams in the country, all funded by Coppafeel.
Q: What is the importance in targeting young people?
A: Awareness. 18-24 year old’s are least likely to check their boobs. Young men especially don’t know that they can also get breast cancer, however 400 men a year are diagnosed with it in the UK. When you’re growing up, your body changes a lot, which makes it that much harder to spot, compared with those who are older and know their bodies well. It’s just about knowing what signs to looks out for. For example, with women, our boobs can change size and shape with our period and cycle, so it’s about knowing what happens for you every month. When something changes, go and get it checked out. Even if you’re not sure. Coppafeel have three main aims: to Engage, Educate, and Empower. Empower is what they are really focusing on right now, as it’s important to feel comfortable going to the doctors to check things out. It’s about giving young people the confidence to do it. Doctors are never going to laugh at you, your GP is there for you.
Q: How do you plan to go about this, Coppafeel’s three aims?
A: The whole idea of Coppafeel is that it’s meant to be lighthearted, engaging young people whilst making it fun. For example, in freshers we had a glitter stand at the Freshers ball, in order to raise money. It’s only £1 and we’re going to continue that throughout the year. We also do temporary tattoos, for the text service we have that people can sign up to – a text for a tattoo. All the University Boob Teams across the country are in competition with each other, and we were top of the leaderboard for September, getting 115 text sign ups. These are completely free, you just send ‘UBT KENT’ to 70500, and get regular reminders to check your boobs. The university in second place only got 33, so we smashed it out of the park. The competition is continuing in October, so we’re pushing a lot of sign ups this month. For This Kent Girl Can we’re doing workshops with sports societies next week, such as the upcoming dodgeball tournament, or ‘Boob-ball’. ‘Boob’ dodgeballs are just one example of some of the fun things the charity provides us with. We’re also sponsored by Lovehoney this year, so they’ve sent us a load of goodies to give away as prizes (all PG). This is to support part of Coppafeel’s aim to destigmatise and desexualise boobs.
Q: Do you have any final advice for those with boobs?
A: Coppafeel’s tagline is ‘Guys, gals, and non-binary pals’, because anyone can get breast cancer. Breast tissue runs up to your collar bone and into your armpit, so it’s about checking more than just your boobs. Knowing that the symptoms are more than just lumps, such as dimpling of the skin, rashes, change in sign or shape, and nipple discharge. It’s about looking at them as well as feeling them. Just once a month, or with the reminders from the text service. The main message is to get to know the shape and look of your boobs—and if it changes, go and get it checked out.