Calendar promotes breast health
Article saved from Canadian Medical Association site November 12, 2001

(eCMAJ News Desk) —  Breast of Canada 2002, a new calendar featuring images and information on healthy breasts, hopes to encourage more women to take an active part in ensuring their own breast health.

“There are over 15 million female breast owners in Canada and breast cancer is a risk for everyone of them,” said calendar creator Sue Richards of Guelph, Ont. “I believe by showing breasts in a normalized health context and providing easy to understand information, more women will be encouraged to take a proactive approach to breast health.”

Richards said the idea for the calendar came after she learned that she had been incorrectly doing breast self-examinations (BSE) while searching for signs of cancer. She added that when the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care recommended in CMAJ that women not be taught breast self examination to screen for breast cancer, she knew her project was important.

“My first thought was that it was ridiculous and I couldn’t understand why they would want to discourage women from learning about and monitoring their bodies,” said Richards.
The task force recommendation — among several others — was that women aged 40 to 49 years not be taught breast self-examination (BSE) because the technique offered little or no benefit in the early detection of breast cancer. It caused a furore in both Canada and the US.

Richards maintains that it is wrong to assume women cannot do BSE properly and says that a quick lesson in the doctor’s office is not enough to ensure that the technique has been taught properly.

“Having been taught the proper method to do BSE I feel much more confident that if something is there to be found, I will find it,” said Richards. “But it’s important to think of this as a skill and women need to practice it.”
Breast of Canada features a 12- by 14-inch photo for each month, plus illustrated guides on how to perform BSE correctly. Each large black and white photo focuses exclusively on breasts, both young and old, and includes no faces.

Richards is donating 40% of all profits from sales of the calendars, which retail for $24.95, to Breast Cancer Support Services of Burlington, Ont.

eCMAJ News Desk

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