Breast health myths to be dispelled in 2015 awareness week

Underarm deodorants do not cause breast cancer, thankfully. And that’s just one of the truths that are being spread for Breast Health Awareness Week.

Breast Health Awareness Week is one of the U of A Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Youth Action Committee’s biggest campaigns of the year, with the goal of raising awareness for breast health and fundraising for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. This week, the group is holding a different event to dispel myths about breast health.

One of the more popular myths is that men cannot get breast cancer — they actually can, Ramita Verma, President of the U of A Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Youth Action Committee, said.

Upcoming daily events include Wednesday’s “bra pong” in CAB, where players make a small donation to hear a fact about breast health, and then can throw ping-pong balls into bra cups for prizes. Thursday’s event is a healthy food sale in PAW, where items are available by donation. To finish the week, there will be free yoga, pink lemonade and swag bags on Friday in PAW; space is limited, so students will be admitted on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Every person has to deal with financial, familial and emotional problems, but a breast cancer diagnosis adds an extra dimension of complexity. The diagnosed individual has to take the hardship and balance it with the rest of their life, Verma said. While people can’t help the actual problem of having cancer, they can still support someone having these problems by being there to listen, she said.

“I’ve learned the importance of always trying to be there, supporting the families of the diagnosed individual,” Verma said. “Be willing to take their mind off of it sometimes, take them out, do something fun. Try to uplift whatever spirit you can to keep the positive vibes, even though that is a lot easier said than done.”

Even though it’s more typical to develop cancer later on in life, it’s still important to promote breast health and healthy lifestyles to students, Verma said. Habits from university, good or bad, tend to stick for life — using the gym regularly and limiting alcohol consumption all contribute to long-term health. Toxins from unhealthy lifestyle habits in youth build up, and even if a person wants to change lifestyle habits later on, they’re still at higher risk for developing disease, she said.

“(Breast cancer) can have such a widespread effect even though it is a diagnosis on a singular person,” Verma said. “It doesn’t affect only the person who is diagnosed, but their entire family and friends, everyone they work with.”

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