By Hannah Benson
cancer awareness one step further this past Monday as they hosted Bright Pink, a national non-profit organization focused on prevention and early detection of breast and ovarian cancer in young women.
The representative who came to speak, Julie Hufman, has been a part of the organization for over 10 years now, and is one of the “rare executive heads of an organization who hasn’t suffered from the disease we fund research for” in the first place, so she stated in her introduction. She mentioned rather that she is incredibly passionate about prevention and education about the disease in the first place, and how the lecture itself could save someone’s life if they so much as listened and took the appropriate action.
Hufman then launched into an interactive program that included a few quizzes which participants took on their phones to further increase their education about the topic in the first place.
She began by explaining how women of all ages should be performing breast exams on themselves at home, by examining their breasts with varying
angles and pressure and feeling for lumps. Should women find anything of concern, they are told to check again weekly, then let a medical professional know within 2-3 weeks. Hufman really emphasized the importance of being safe rather than being sorry; it’s a much smarter move to bring something to the attention of your doctor that turns out to be benign than keep something from them that turns out to be fatal.
Hufman then outlined a variety of things people can do to lower their risk of developing breast cancer down the line. This list included getting 20-30 mintutes of exercise daily, lowering alcohol and red meat intake, and maintaining a healthy Body-Mass Index. She explained how being able to lower the risk of a disease is incredibly powerful and how smart people would be to take advantage of that.
“If I told you that one action you performed today could cut your chances of getting hit by a bus in half, you would take it,” Hufman explains to the room, “granted, the circumstances are different, but the idea is the same. Once we know what can prevent something that can kill us, we can start to take the steps to get to that safer way of life.”
Hufman later encouraged the participants to use their phones to sign up for monthly reminders to perform the self-breast exam, and to share the reminders with their friends and loved ones, so that those women can become aware, too.
Hufman explained that, in the past year, at a college workshop like the one she was giving at the moment, a girl who signed up for the reminders performed the exam on herself a few months down the line, found something and caught her breast cancer very early on. Hufman testifies that this girl thanked the organization for their outreach, for, without it, she may not have caught the cancerous area for quite some time.
“And that’s why I do what I do,” Hufman explained, “but I can’t help you save any lives until you act. That’s what really does the work.”
Ali Figuelo, Elon sophomore and member of Zeta Tau Alpha remarked after, “I can’t believe how much I didn’t already know about breast and ovarian cancer before tonight. I’m definitely going to share this information with the people I care about. Now that I know what I know, I want to make sure everyone can catch a disease like this early.”