October 17, 2011

Annual ‘Be My Bra’ competition set for Oct. 27

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The goal of a special event at Southern Illinois University Carbondale this month is raising awareness about breast cancer and the importance of taking an active stance against a disease that touches most families at one time or another.

The fifth annual “Be My Bra!  Unite to Fight!” competition is set for 5 p.m. Oct. 27 in the lobby of the Student Health Center on campus.  This contest from Southern Illinois Healthcare and its new SIH Cancer Institute, in conjunction with the University’s Student Health Services, is a popular happening.

About one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime.  Each Be My Bra entrant will channel creative energies to decorate a one-of-a-kind brassiere to symbolize his or her support for those afflicted by breast cancer and to take a stand in the fight against the disease. Since the contest began in 2007 with nearly a dozen sororities participating, the participants have used virtually anything and everything imaginable to festoon the female undergarment, keeping it tasteful for public display, of course. 

By the second year all registered student organizations were welcome to participate and by 2009 the contest expanded to include all campus organizations, individuals and affiliated staff.  In addition to putting their imaginations to the test, contestants will also make a short presentation illustrating how their design represents the “Be My Bra!  Unite to Fight!” theme.  Contest winners earn prizes and regional recognition, as the bras will go on display in various locations throughout the coming year.  You can see some of last year’s entries in campus display cases and at the Student Health Center. 

“It is a wonderful way for our students to earn regional recognition for their creativity, their compassion and their commitment to survivors and fighters of this disease,” said Christy Hamilton, a wellness coordinator with the University’s Student Health Services.

There is no cost to enter the contest but you must pre-register by Friday, Oct. 21.  Pre-registration just requires contacting Valerie Baker of SIH Cancer Care Services at Valerie.baker@sih.net or by fax at 618/529-0568 with the name of the participating person or group, a contact name, phone number and email address.  Then, bring pre-registered brassieres and narratives to the Student Health Center at 4:15 p.m. Oct. 27.  The contest begins at 5 p.m.

“The contest provides a wonderful opportunity for SIH and SIU, as the region’s largest employers, to come together to raise awareness of breast cancer -- something that affects each of us at some point in our lives,” said Jennifer Badiu, administrative director of the SIH Cancer Institute.

There will be information tables at the Student Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 18 and 20 offering additional information about Be My Bra!  Unite to Fight!  You can also contact Baker at 618/457-5200, ext. 67128.

“I wish I could say that breast cancer does not affect young women under the age of 40 but it does, over and over again.  You can read the stories of some of the young ladies who are members of the Young Survivors Coalition at http://www.youngsurvival.org/.  Women of ALL ages, and men as well, need to become familiar with their bodies.  Start doing monthly breast self exams no later than age 20.  If you find something that seems different, report it to your healthcare provider.  If you feel that your concerns aren’t being addressed because of your age, be persistent until your concerns are alleviated,” said Donna Crow, breast health patient navigator for Southern Illinois Healthcare.