My mum was diagnosed with Breast Cancer when I was at sixth form. Because I was so young (and a bit selfish and clueless) at the time I never thought about checking my own boobs. Breast cancer was something that happened to older women, right? Fast forward to more recent times and my older sister was given the news nearly five years ago that she had breast cancer too. As a family we were shocked and devastated that it had happened again, it was totally out of the blue, but did you know that at least one in eight women will experience breast cancer in their lifetime? It finally dawned on me that I needed to start checking myself regularly, it started to become part of my daily routine, and it was around this time that I heard about a breast cancer charity called CoppaFeel!
The founders of CoppaFeel! are two sisters Kris and Maren, and Kris was diagnosed with stage four (there is no five) breast cancer when she was 23. Kris’s story is that she noticed her breast was lumpy back in June 2008, went to her GP but the lumps were dismissed as ‘hormonal’, she was to young for it to be anything sinister. So Kris got on doing what any normal 20-something year old does and went travelling for six months. When she returned, still with a lumpy boob, her mum made her go to the GP and demanded a referral. Unfortunately after much time had passed, the diagnosis was that it was not only breast cancer, but the cancer had spread to her spine. Months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy then followed. Early on in her diagnosis, Kris and her sister, both angry and frustrated that her lumpy boob had been dismissed as not being cancer because Kris was too young, decided to get the message out to young people that regardless of your age, breast cancer can effect you and you should be checking your boobs regularly. And so, CoppaFeel! was born.
I got in touch with CoppaFeel! to ask a few questions:
How did Kris & Maren get CoppaFeel! started?:
Hard work and dedication! Kris and Maren started the charity only a few months after Kris’ diagnosis. Rallying friends and family around they hit the festivals and started chatting boobs with as many people as possible.
Whats the main ethos?
Saving lives and having fun.
The charity has been running for nearly fives years now, what’s been your biggest achievement to date?
This October will be CoppaFeel!’s 6th Birthday. There have been some great achievements on the way – from the first email from someone who found their breast cancer thanks to hearing about CoppaFeel! to the partnership with the Sun and the airing of Kris’ documentary ‘Kris: Dying to live’ hard to pick just one!
Who is your target audience?
Young people aged 18-35
You have the giant boobs, the Boobettes, SMS reminders, stalls at festivals, what do you find is the most popular campaign that you have?
All our activity works together to share the boob love!
Checking boobs takes just minutes so why do you think people are only recognising now, that this is something they should be doing?
People forget , people don’t know what to look for and people think there is a ‘correct’ way to check. We are here to remind young people to check their boobs (SMS reminders, our app, newsletters etc) , share the information on what to look out for and let everyone know that it is all about getting to know yourself and noticing any changes.
What should someone do if they find a lump or are worried about their breasts?
Go to your GP!
How can people support or raise money for CoppaFeel!?
There are lots of ways you can get involved, run a marathon, do a trek with us, bake sales, biking events , it all helps! Take a look here for some ideas.
How can money donated help?
Your donations help us to keep doing what we are doing – going out to schools , workplaces , festivals and universities across the country and getting people checking their boobs.
You have some amazing patrons, Sheridan Smith being your newest. Are they helping spread the CoppaFeel! word?
Yes! We are really proud of our patrons and have some exciting news coming soon ………..
What next? Are there any big campaigns ahead or are you just getting ready for festival season?
Our new campaign will be launched in September, but at the moment we are getting busy for the festival season , training our new Uni teams and supporting our Fabulous Challengers!
Finally, the amazing C Word has just been shown on the BBC and this was something Kris was involved in. What was the response to CoppaFeel! after this?
We had lots of lovely emails and more invitations to come and speak at events. We also had lots more shower sticker requests!
Ladies (and gents) I hope reading this post has made you stop and check your boobs. Please make it part of your daily routine when you’re in the shower or getting dressed, it takes literally minutes. For more information, go and have a look on the CoppaFeel! website.