Know your breasts
Gina Andrews is a young mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer after the birth of her first child. She created a campaign called Save R Boobies to educate women about breast cancer. Her goal is to break the stereotype of this cancer being an old woman’s disease, and to spread awareness among younger women. Visit www.saverboobies.com for more info.
Do you think cancer happened to you for a reason?
Definitely. You know, when I was going through it, I never questioned “Why me?” I just knew in my heart there was a reason. I didn’t know what it was at the time. I didn’t know what the new road was going to lead me to. And then, after I had my treatment, I realized this was my calling. My calling was to really help other young women, do what I can to help provide those services for them. You know, as a young mother, if we aren’t here to live our life, who’s going to take care of our families? Who’s going to take care of our kids?
Describe how you started Save R Boobies.
I’m a breast-cancer survivor. I found out I had a lump at the age of 28, and the doctors at the time said it was benign, and since I didn’t have it in my family, I wasn’t too worried about it, obviously, and believed what I was told. Then three years later, I had my first child. During the pregnancy, the lump increased in size. Six days after he was born, I learned I had breast cancer. So while I was going through a year of treatments, I realized there were really limited resources here in Sacramento, especially for someone my age. So after my treatment, I wanted to give back to the community, and I didn’t want another woman to go through what I’ve gone through by myself.
Why do you think so many women are misdiagnosed?
A lot of the marketing collateral you see still show women in their 50s getting breast cancer, so that’s the reason I’m raising awareness, because young women see it as an older woman’s disease, but it’s happening to young women, too.
What advice would you give women who haven’t been diagnosed?
I try to tell all young women you really need to know your body, you really need to perform the [breast self-exam]. That’s how I found my lump. The majority of the time, women I talk to have found the lump themselves and then went to see the doctor. I think [the self-exam] in young women is really important, and if you do find something, immediately go see your doctor. And if you still have the strong feeling that there is something wrong with you, go back to your doctor, or even get a second opinion. Listen to your instinct, and if you have any questions, you can come to our site and e-mail me.
Tell me about www.saverboobies.com.
It’s on online resource Web site I created to help women find the resources, find different organizations that could help them through their breast-cancer-treatment process. I also have a vision of raising money for charities that provide services for women. I’m more than passionate now to help raise money for screening for women, because mortality rates in young women are higher because they don’t think they can get breast cancer. And young women are still being misdiagnosed because of their age. So that’s why I’m very passionate in raising awareness for women under 40.
What advice would you give a woman who had just been diagnosed?
Try to find a good support group to get connected to, that’s the No. 1 priority. I know sometimes when you first get diagnosed, it’s so overwhelming. It’s overwhelming with researching online, trying to figure out, why did I get it? How did I get it? Our goal is to try to make it easy to find that information.
How important is it to break out of your shell and join a group?
It’s pretty critical. It can be a lonely journey if you don’t have someone there to kind of help you through it. You can have your friends and family there, but it’s not the same as connecting with another person who has actually gone through the breast-cancer process. Your friends and family can be there to support you, but you really need someone there who has gone through it themselves that can tell you what to expect, what to do in the situation, kind of give you some tips in helping you along the process.
Is there anything else you think people should know about your site?
We’ve got four different T-shirt designs on our Web site. They are young and cute. It’s $20 a shirt, and we take portions of that to donate to the smaller charities. Our goal when we get there is to design more apparel—fitness apparel, jewelry, etc. Once that is launched, our goal is to pick certain charities per quarter, and then we’ll have our visitors vote on the charity we’ll donate to. We’re trying to be interactive with our visitors. And we’ll have giveaways on our site, too.