IT and Awareness: The Booby Wall

For really what is the first time, we are using vehicles to promote awareness that we hadn't used in the past. Initially, you could only find links to fundraising efforts and the various organizations. Today, you can keep yourself quite busy simply by putting the words "breast cancer awareness" into Google. You will find everything from jewelry to craft items to fabrics to awareness literature.

Yet, for all that seeming awareness, there is still a disconnect. Most men do not know that 4,000 men are diagnosed every year. Ten percent of those 4,000 men die of breast cancer, because they don't know that they need to be doing breast self exam (BSE). Women pay the habit lip service, but most don't do it. The group of women most likely to develop breast cancer, women over 40, are also the group most likely to be heading to peri-menopause -- something that changes the breast at various times of the month and can cause both false positives and false negatives on BSE. This is especially common among women that don't self check every month, mostly because they don't know what they are looking for.

Through the use of technology, a more daring message can be communicated. Moreover, we can communicate beyond the borders that we have traditionally been bound by, and we have greater control over the message that is being communicated.

The value to this is twofold. First, the awareness message has a greater audience. Second, we begin to de-mystify the disease and really put it in its place.

Many women, post-mastectomy, lose their sense of self. By the time the chemo is over, they are nearly numb as a result of everything they have been through -- and not just the treatment. There is the knowledge that she has to be strong for everyone around her. People come out of the woodwork to help, but the survivor generally goes through the entire experience either never asking for help or hating herself if she does. The enormity of the whole is way too much to consider, and the emotional toll gets expressed in some interesting ways. Things like the Booby Wall provide a way to start feeling normal again. Participants at the Booby Wall are able to reach out through a safe medium to that woman and tell her she isn't alone. It is truly a comfort.

For more information:

Cancer group asks women to be brazen online (Reuters)

I don't know what value it has to "business" per se. I know the value that things like this have to specific non-profits such as the Susan G. Komen and the National Breast Cancer Foundation, among others. It provides a new vehicle to communicate about a disease that is so pervasive that virtually every person on the planet has had some experience with it.

Efforts like this have the ability to be viral -- because of the medium employed, a woman can participate in relative anonymity. For a survivor, events like this are often the genesis to finally coming to acceptance with the disease and her own body.

Do you think that the Booby Wall is supportive, or do you think that it is in poor taste?