Justin Sander is a Public Relations major at CSU Long Beach, and he reached out to Boarding for Breast Cancer to feature the organization as part of a service-learning requirement for his class and to help B4BC gain media coverage in his local networks. As an avid skateboarder, snowboarder, and surfer—and the grandchild of a breast cancer survivor—he had a strong interest in supporting B4BC. After getting more in the organization and learning more about the cause, he shared his thoughts in an op-ed for a school project that we would like to share below. If you would like to share your own “It’s Personal” story, please reach out to us here.
Why Men Should Partake in Breast Cancer Awareness
By Justin Sander
For most people, their consciousness of breast cancer awareness and prevention only lasts for a month—Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. The pink ribbons come and go but breast cancer isn’t going anywhere. Fortunately, there are organizations solely dedicated to this issue that do a phenomenal job raising awareness about prevention year-round, educating the masses on early detection and prevention techniques for people of any age. It would be accurate to say that advocacy for breast cancer in particular is widely prominent in our modern age. However, there is a large component missing: men. What? Yes, men should partake in generating awareness for breast cancer prevention and early detection with the same fervor as women.
Over 10 years ago my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a gloomy era for my family, since my father had just lost his stepfather to prostate cancer and his mother to a rare lung disease in a three-year span. It became very obvious to me at a young age that cancer is a real and imminent threat to the people I love. I read up on the facts—one in every eight women born today will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. This is about my mother, my aunt, my grandma. This is why men should be educated about breast cancer and donate their time or money to causes that are committed to educating people about prevention, early detection or finding a cure.
Some men may write breast cancer off as a female issue. Men have breast tissue also and therefore have the potential to get breast cancer. Male breast cancer only makes up one percent of all breast cancer cases—although rare, the threat is not absent, especially if breast cancer runs in your family and you meet certain criteria such as obesity, exposure to radiation, high levels of estrogen and/or heavy drinking. Genetics may also play a role—one in five men with breast cancer have a female relative with the disease. If you’re a health-conscious male, then you’re probably already doing regular testicular examinations to prevent testicular cancer. Why not add a couple of seconds to your routine and check your chest too?
Men advocating for breast cancer awareness presents a dynamic that most people overlook. Whether you see it or not, we live in a very misogynistic culture. Women continue to be objectified and treated less than their counterparts. Double standards continue to exist and systematic discrimination is still in place. Even breast cancer has become sexualized. Several breast cancer organizations sexualize breast cancer in order to create appeal to men by focusing on calling attention to breasts in their taglines instead of the women themselves, using words like “boobies”, “titties”, or “second base” to describe the female anatomy in relation to what can be a life-altering disease. Advocacy groups for breast cancer awareness and the movement as a whole has evolved into a symbol for femininity and female empowerment; therefore, the messages propelled by these sexualized campaigns are doing women a disservice and perpetuate the cycle of societal misogyny. Equality is a necessity. We need each other. It’s not about gender superiority but rather what we can all bring to the table as equals. At the least, awareness is a numbers game. If men play their part, then the numbers will double by default.
After reading all of this, you may wonder: “How can I show my support?” Boarding for Breast Cancer appeals to everyone by promoting breast cancer awareness and educating the masses about prevention techniques and the importance of healthy, active living through the action sport industry. I support and find value in an organization that promotes a healthy lifestyle and positive views for women. If you love to surf, skate or snowboard then getting involved with this organization is right up your alley, and it’s easy to set up a fundraising page to get friends and family to donate to the cause. Fundraise, volunteer, donate, or show your support by calling them out on your social networks to help spread the word. Learn how to perform a breast self-exam and the 7 Steps to Stomp Out Breast Cancer to be your own best advocate from B4BC. The famous celebrities, politicians and public figures aren’t the ones who truly make a difference—it’s the everyday people like you. Grab your board and go ride in support of women.