Being ‘blunt’ about breast cancer awareness

“As young college students, you think you are invincible,” communications instructor Donna Gray said.

Her point?

Breast cancer is now affecting 1 in every 8 women before the age of 40.

A Butler University journalism class, Strategic Communication for Nonprofits, has teamed up with Young Survival Coalition (YSC) to create a breast cancer awareness campaign for college campuses.

The class, in its third year of existence, works with a different nonprofit organization in the area each semester and works to implement a campaign within the community, Gray said.

She said the task this year is to pilot a breast cancer awareness campaign on campus that, if proven successful, could potentially be taken to other colleges nationwide.

Edward Kanis, program director for the Eugene S. Pulliam School of Journalism, said the idea to partner up with YSC came from Butler alumna Julie Burns, who now works for YSC.

Kanis said it seemed like a great opportunity to really take hold of implementing the volunteer work that the university’s new strategic plan entails.

The Strategic Communication for Nonprofits class has eight students currently, all of whom said they were fired up for this year’s project.

“YSC is a national organization and the campaign we create will be run on a local level,” senior Brenden Hudson said. “And if successful, they will use [our ideas] nationally.”

Students in the class said this particular cause was something close to their hearts as every student in the class has been affected by breast cancer, either via a friend or family member.

“I don’t think we were aware of how much our age is affected by [breast cancer],” senior Maria Keyler said. “Learning more definitely was something that has shocked us and we have become more passionate about the cause.”

Gray said the lack of education on cancer prevention is concerning as the warnings seem to go in one ear and out the other of young people today.

“We know things but we don’t take advantage of that knowledge,” Gray said.

During class, she used examples such as texting and driving and drinking and driving to point out that though the information is available, younger age groups tend to ignore it.

The class does not want their campaign to be something that is desensitized or forgettable—they want it to have a meaning and impact the entire campus.

“The older generation is more conservative,” Keyler said. “We need to be blunt about it—no ‘behind closed doors.’

“Personally, I think it’s something that needs to be talked about.”
During a campaign brainstorming session, the class looked for different ways to bring the breast cancer issue close to home and show students that they need to take action now.

Gray said students would see the effects when comparing the campaign to their peers.

For instance, within just one of the sorority houses on campus, there could be 13 women affected by breast cancer before the time they are forty, statistically speaking, she said.

“We have to create a mirror as a real-life situation that our group is involved in,” Kanis said. “It could be upsetting or offensive, but we need to be edgier with our campaign to show how breast cancer is hitting women younger and younger.”

Kanis said the class hopes have their campaign ready to hit campus sometime in November.

He encourages all Butler students to support the group.

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