Sarah Gandy launches Change & Check campaign, as new survey reveals “worrying” breast cancer findings
Broadcaster Sarah Gandy has joined forces with Breast Cancer Foundation NZ (BCFNZ) to launch the Change & Check campaign today, kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This comes as BCFNZ also publishes new research showing how young Kiwi women are neglecting their breast health.
A survey by Colmar Brunton commissioned by BCFNZ reveals:
- 1 in 6 Kiwi women under 45 never check their breasts for changes
- "Not knowing how” is the number 1 reason why women under 45 don’t self-check
- 37% of women under 45 don’t know what to look for when checking their breasts, compared to only 8% of women 45 and older
- Only 12% of women under 45 could correctly name all of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer
- Nearly 1 in 8 respondents under 45 have ignored a lump or other symptom, rather than getting checked out by a doctor.
The Change & Check campaign sees stickers displaying the signs and symptoms of breast cancer in changing rooms across New Zealand. The message is simple – know the warning signs of breast cancer and if you notice anything unusual, get checked out by a doctor straight away. Farmers, Flo & Frankie, Glassons, NZ Tennis, Olympic Pools & Fitness Centre, Papinelle Sleepwear and Swanndri have already signed up, with the hope that more will follow.
Sarah Gandy, who was diagnosed with breast cancer early last year at the age of 36 and is BCFNZ’s newest Ambassador, said: “This project is all about getting women thinking and checking their boobs at a time that works for them. We all know the signs of a cold. How great would it be if women had that same level of knowledge about what their boobs are telling them? My own case shows that breast cancer can happen to younger women, so we all need to pay attention. Saving your life can be as easy as checking your breasts in the time it takes to get changed.”
Evangelia Henderson, chief executive of Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, said: “It’s concerning to see the lack of knowledge about breast cancer our survey exposed, and I’m worried young Kiwi women aren’t as vigilant as they could be about their breast health. Tragically, we still lose 650 NZ women to breast cancer every year, which is why we need to keep spreading the message that early detection gives you the best chance for surviving breast cancer. We’re urging women to recognise the signs and ‘know your normal’ – download our Pre Check app to teach you how.”
Sarah Gandy was inspired by the UK’s Change & Check campaign launched last year by cancer survivor Helen Addis and ITV host Lorraine Kelly. The campaign has been hugely successful, appearing in most retail chains across the country and receiving celebrity endorsement from the likes of Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) and Madonna. A number of British women have spoken out about how their lives were saved by the campaign – they each received an early diagnosis after seeing the stickers and checking themselves.
Sarah owes her survival to her own vigilance, after she started self-checking when her good friend Delaney Tabron was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017. In a truly global effort, Sarah collaborated with Helen Addis, and asked Delaney – who starred in the NZ comedy series ‘Step Dave’ and now lives in Los Angeles – to design the Kiwi Change & Check sticker. All three women are passionate about turning their experiences into something positive, by raising awareness that breast cancer can happen to young women too. Although breast cancer in younger women is less common (out of the 3,300 women in NZ diagnosed every year, 350 of them will be under 45), it is more aggressive.
BCFNZ’s Pre Check app gives women the confidence to take control of their own breast health. Visual, tactile and audio cues help you search for signs of breast cancer on screen, a ‘how-to’ guide teaches you what to look for when self-checking, and you can even set monthly reminders to do self-checks. It can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play, or visit bcf.org.nz/precheck
To order Change & Check stickers and posters, visit bcf.org.nz/changeandcheck