Ask a Scientist During #PYB2016

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This year Protect Your Breasts is lucky enough to have a scientist onboard who has spent years researching to develop new tests which will detect cancers before tumors have developed. I’ve spoken to this lady for a long time and I am blown away that she has volunteered to do TWO Q&A sessions during the PYB Annual event on Sunday the 25th of September 2016.

 

I’ll let her tell you a little about herself and the kind of questions she will be able to answer during her Q&A slots which are between 1pm and 3pm GMT and 9pm and 11pm GMT.

 

 

Bio:

My friends call me Mel! I am a graduate student at university. I have 2 Bachelor degrees in Science. One is in biology and the other is in biochemistry. I have a Master’s in Arts in science education. I am currently working on a second Master’s focusing on bioanalytical chemistry and will enter the chemistry PhD program after attaining this degree. I have a research background in genetics, cancer drug delivery systems, and currently working in cancer detection. I work primarily with breast cancer, more aggressive strains that spread rapidly. My current project is developing a more sensitive test that detects the means of cancer spreading before a tumor is detected. I also utilize 3D printing technologies to engineer portions of my test.It is my hope that the breast cancer cells can be detected before a growth is even present. The sooner the diagnosis, the sooner further tests can be run to determine more effective and appropriate treatments to eradicate the cancer.

More of my research details…I work in nanomaterials (very small materials used to transport meds as well as detect cells). My project focuses on modifying these tiny materials to seek out and find cancer cells as well as the means of how cancer spreads. I am currently generating a new test that will (hopefully) allow doctors to test in their office and have results in about 1-2 hours. I am in early stages, but initial tests show promise. I collaborate with other members of my lab in their projects and they on mine. My lab feels much like a second family. We work together to ensure success of our individual projects…all focused on breast cancer and detection. There is a lot of overlap. Our other projects are progressing well in detecting a single cancer cell in appx. 3-5 ml of blood (a finger prick). We are working to make noninvasive tests that also allow further tests on the individual cancer cell giving added insight as to the origin of the person’s cancer cell.

Why do I support PYB? Being a scientist, I understand the nature of cancer and the damage it can cause. It is consistently rising among our populations. Cancer is a scary word. Pre-cancer is a scary word. Education and understanding what cancer is, is essential in order to make life choices, informed decisions, institute preventative measures, and quell panic. Self examinations, understanding your body, having the correct info about cancer, and taking measures to protect yourself are the best ways in ensuring your risk decreases. Cancer is scary…but it is less scary when you know what it is and how you can reduce your risk of being affected by it.

I am happy and excited to share what I do in answering questions to help others protect their breasts and maintain healthy bodies!

Topics for the Q&A! What can I answer?

Risk factors for cancer

Cancer prevention

How cancer develops

What is cancer

What is pre-cancer

Medical terms for clarification

Why people get cancer

Causes of cancer

Cancer detection

New technologies/vaccines/treatments/research

Controversial decisions (preemptively removing breast tissue)

Treatments of cancer

Pseudo science (home remedies are not effective)

Why it takes a long time to get a new test/drug made

Challenges of research

Women in science

How to get involved

Finding reputable resources to learn more

I can’t wait for the Q&A! I am looking forward to helping PYB spread the word in early detection. It’s very close to me as it is what I spend nearly every day researching. ❤

Mel

 

 

PYB Annual Event 2016

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It’s that time of the year again and I’m not talking about the kids going back to school; it’s time to explain what Protect Your Breasts AKA PYB is all about and our plans for the last weekend of September.

 

Back in 2013 the purchase of a new bra became the start of PYB and if you’re unfamiliar with the full story you can read it here.

 

2016 marks our 4th annual event, 3rd year of existence and the first anniversary of the book Framed which helped us raise £1200 for Cancer Research.

 

Each year the support we are overwhelmed with grows and it’s heart-warming to see so many men and women changing their twitter avatars for the world to see.

 

If you’re new to PYB let me explain what we do. The last weekend of every month we post reminders for men and women to perform their self examinations and implore them to report any changes to their doctors. The last Weekend in September we have a huge PYB push and ask people to change their twitter profile picture to one of their chest. The reason behind this is to have a visual that will hopefully make people stop, wonder what all the pictures are about and then come over to PYB and join in the movement.

 

One of the most important things for the PYB team is that no one feels uncomfortable with the pictures they post and with this in mind we have a few ideas for pictures you could use as inspiration.

 

Something chest inspired

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The t-shirt/vest picture

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The bra pic

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The hand bra pic

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Regular self examination is important because the earlier breast cancer is found, the higher the survival rate and that is the driving force behind Protect Your Breasts.

 

In short, the way we would like you to show your support for our cause and annual event is as follows

  • Change your avatar on the 24/25 September to a pic along the lines shown in this blog. If you would like to add the text #PYB2016 to your picture there are many free apps which allow you to add text to your images or you can tweet @pyb_cancer and we can help.
  • Post the picture as a tweet and tag @pyb_cancer as well as adding #pyb2016 this will help us find everyone who has joined in. We also have a Pinterest account where we like to put as many pics as possible of those taking part in our annual event. We never add names to any of the pictures, but seeing them all together after the event is over looks amazing.
  • Tell your friends about us and about our monthly reminders

 

We hope to see you on our twitter feed where you’ll come across some amazing men and women helping us make C stand for Clear, not Cancer.

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‘Framed’ The Fundraising triumph…

 

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…and that’s what it feels like; a triumph.

 

I’m not really sure where to start from when talking about Framed, but I guess the beginning is as good a place as any.

The concept of the book came towards the end of August, about five weeks before our annual event. At the time my aim was to get twenty-six authors (we actually managed twenty-eight) and to get them to write a thousand word story to the same image. As a writer myself let me just say this, get a group of writers together and it gets crazier than a box of fireworks going off all at once 🙂 There was the image to agree on, the way the book would be distributed and this was before collecting the 28 stories, proof reading by myself and the wonderful H A Robinson and creating the book. Art work was needed and L J Stock stepped up to the plate and produced all kinds of things for us to use and we had just six weeks to do all this in and get the book to Ava Manello for formatting.

If I had magical powers I’d have released the book during the PYB annual event, but four weeks was simply not possible. We did keep it a secret though until the event and the response was brilliant once we shared what we were up to.

Raising money for Cancer Research with a book as unique as this was frigging brilliant on an astronomical level! In just five weeks we raised £1,232.00 I never even dared to dream we would make even £123.20. The PYB Wordy Warriors were great to lend their words to this project and to help raise money for an amazing cause.

Thank you so much to everyone who donated to receive their copy of Framed and a HUGE thank you to V for giving up four nights a week to send out the emails and letting me get away with only doing 3 nights a week.

 

Lisa

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It’s been a long slog to get to this point in the PYB journey, and I can’t express enough that my part in the #PYB Wordy Warriors was very small. It’s all down to Lisa, but I helped where I could.

I have no idea about writing, editing, putting a book together and launching it. So I just set up the Just Giving Page and sent out copies of the e-book four evenings a week for the duration of its release.

Lisa organised, negotiated, collated, proof read and did a lot of trouble shooting, while I could only listen, support and watch everything unfold.

Release day was fantastic; the response from all of the #PYB supporters was amazing. So many donations and excitement around the project, and I have to admit, I felt quite relieved that ‘Framed’ was finally out there!

Then the e-mails started flying out. I was poised and ready at 9pm Tuesday to Friday, hitting the send button, and it felt good. Really good.

Yes, OK there were flat spots… some nights I didn’t send any copies of ‘Framed’ out, but I was still there. It felt great to be a part of something so much bigger, knowing that people were donating and enjoying the work of all of the amazing authors who contributed to ‘Framed’. As someone on the outer edges of this particular project, it felt rather epic. So I can only imagine what it felt like for Lisa and her army of authors.

It’s been lovely to be able to reflect on this amazing achievement; I really didn’t know what to expect, I don’t think any of us did.

To raise over £1000 is a monumental achievement!

Thank you to everyone who donated, you are all stars and I hope you’re enjoying reading ‘Framed’.

It’s been a few weeks since our Just Giving page closed and the book is no longer available. I feel a little lost that I’m no longer e-mailing out to our amazing supporters.

It’s time to think about family and friends as we move into the festive season, but we will be sending you all reminders during the last weekend of every month to check your breasts and chests! So don’t worry about forgetting, we’ve got you all covered!

Together let’s make C stand for Clear, not Cancer.

Vx

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A little late 2015 PYB Event round-up

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It’s only taken us two months to write about this year’s Protect Your Breasts Annual event. This is because another project PYB undertook monopolised the whole of October and the beginning of November, but we’re not here to talk about that just yet; you’ll have to check back tomorrow to read about Framed.

 

Protect Your Breasts 2015 was an awesome event. Sunday 27th September was an online party!! We had an amazing #PYB Team who were constantly on Twitter and Facebook, posting, tweeting, re-tweeting and thanking all of our wonderful supporters who joined in with the event.

We couldn’t have done that without them… the buzz online was electric, people loved the banter and each #PYB Team member brought their own style to the event. Thank you so much!

I also learnt how to create a Pinterest page… I was pinning everyone’s pictures all through the event, and I can safely say I’ve never seen so many amazing photos!! To all of you who pinned up your pictures, thank you so much. You’re very brave and we really appreciated your support.

Regardless of what a minority of people thought, this really did raise a lot of awareness around breast cancer signs, symptoms and screening. At the end of the day, people were talking about it… and that’s what we wanted.

Lisa and I were always in contact with each other during the day. We helped our fellow PYB team mates out and kept an eye on potential issues… If I remember correctly, I think we synchronised a nap in there for both of us too!

I think I can safely say that the PYB Event will always be my favourite online event. The amount of people who engage with us is mind blowing, it’s very humbling to see people wanting to share their stories with us. Thank you so, so much.

We are a tiny, tiny team… we are not a corporate organisation, we don’t have ‘departments’ or ‘HR’, we’re not even a small business. We are two women, sat at our computers, who just want to make a difference and help to Make C stand for Clear, not Cancer.

Take care everyone, and don’t forget to check your breasts and chests!

Vx

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V covered a lot in her part above, but I wanted to add my own little bit too. This was the third annual event I have run and V’s second. Each year we gain more and more support and its mind bogglingly humbling. This year we had people begin to promote our event from the beginning of September, as it didn’t take place until the 27th this meant we had a huge buzz before the day even came.

The best feeling about the early support was the fact people had clearly remembered from previous years that PYB was happening at the end of September! We’ve actually made a lasting impression in people’s minds which is fantastic. I think this is down to our monthly reminders for people to perform their self examinations which we have been doing for over a year.

As with most things in life, we did face some negativity this year. Personally I was hurt and blown away that people could be so against anything to raise awareness, but with V by my side I managed to focus on all the good we’ve done over the past two years and we stormed ahead with such determination that nothing could get in our way.

We flooded twitter with images of breasts; the male and female variety as well as informative images on how to perform self examinations and also mastectomy scars. It’s important to show all aspects of breast cancer, not to scare people, but to show them the ugly truth of what could happen and also that this is now something science if fighting hard to beat.

People shared their own cancer stories, engaged in conversation about this topic we all fear, but try to convince ourselves will never happen to us and we managed to get people to check their breasts who hadn’t done it before.

 

Protect Your Breasts is one of the proudest things I have ever done in my life and although once a year it completely exhausts me, it’s something I can’t ever imagine not moving forward with.

 

Thank you to everyone who made this year’s event so successful. Without our PYB Warriors there is no way me and V could have possibly kept up with our worldwide support.

 

We’ll be here the last weekend of every month reminding you all to check your breasts so that together we can Make C stand for Clear, not Cancer.

 

Lisa

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Kate Shares Her Experience

Protect Your Breasts has always inspired people to share their stories and experiences with cancer.

Cancer scares, diagnosis, treatment and caring for another going through any of these things.

During the 2015 annual event a supporter named Kate decided to share her experience with cancer and has agreed to allow #PYB to share it here also.

Her story is in two halves and here are both links

Part One

Part Two

The Story of Framed

28 authorsIt’s a little hard not to notice all the #PYB Wordy Warrior avatars on Facebook and Twitter and even harder not to notice all the updates with the cover of Framed.

We’ve posted about the book, the authors and the Just Giving page, but we haven’t really told you the story of Framed.

I’m part of a writing group, a place where writers post pictures to inspire others to write. The phrase a picture paints a thousand words is something I’ve come to truly believe so I put forward to the group we should all try to write a thousand words to the same picture. It was just a simple idea to try to help writers who may be struggling with writers block or need a break from their current project to play with.

Between worlds - fantasy tale

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L J Stock runs the writing group and she came to me and said why didn’t I do this on a bigger scale to help #PYB. I jumped at the idea like a crazed sales addict on the first day of the January sales and began approaching writers within 5 minutes and had recruited 26 writers within 24 hours.

I wanted it to coincide with the #PYB annual event, but that was only four weeks away and no matter how much I wanted to release it then, I knew there was no way it could happen. We kept the project secret until the weekend of the annual event where we released the cover, the picture which inspired the stories and each of the twenty eight authors (two more wanted to join in) who had contributed to the book.

In just four weeks I’d managed to lead the project to the point where the following was possible thanks to the help of everyone involved:

  • The picture was chosen
  • The Just Giving page was set up
  • A registration form was produced for people to register their donation to receive the book
  • The book cover, teaser, banner and author badges were created
  • A sign-up sheet for bloggers to help promote the book was created and shared . . . a lot
  • All 28 stories were sent in to be collated into one book
  • Blog posts were written and sent out

The weekend 25-27th September was all about the annual event, informing every one of this great project and how they would be able to support and help raise money for Cancer Research in the name of Protect Your Breasts.

As soon as the weekend was over we had two weeks to edit and format the book, we must have had some great powers that be looking over us because we managed to have a book ready to be distributed; from the moment of the concept being born to release date was just six weeks.

I’m sure you can imagine, it was a crazy time and the craziness didn’t stop there because now came the time to really push the promotion of what we were doing and try to get as many donations as possible.

Framed is only available for a month which means there is no time to rest, no time to slow down our efforts; every day we are posting the donation link to try to raise as much as we can.

In just a little over a week we have managed to raise £870 including Gift Aid. That’s just too amazing to put into words, but we can do more.

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As I’ve said above, the last 7 weeks have been really full on with this project and it wasn’t until I was having coffee with some friends and we were talking about Framed that I managed to sit back and look at it from a distance. I’ve been consumed by this, but hadn’t looked at the bigger picture. Pulling something like this together in such a small time frame is pretty mind-bogglingly amazeballs.

Two years ago I started #PYB at the suggestion of a friend and now with the #PYB Wordy Warriors, my partner in all this V and a whole team of supporters we really are making a difference.

If you haven’t donated for your thank you copy of Framed you only have until the 8th of November, then it’s gone forever. You can donate here and please remember to fill in the registration form (link is also on the Just Giving page) so we know where to send your copy.

If you’ve followed us on Twitter, liked us on Facebook, read our Blog and shared our work then thank you because you never know who needed a reminder to check their breasts and found something in time to beat it.

Love

Lisa

#PYB Campaigner and #PYB Wordy Warrior

#PYB 2015 annual event round up

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The 2015 Protect Your Breasts event was our most successful and manic to-date and in a way is still ongoing through October.

This year our supporters began shouting about the event, announcing the date and changing their twitter avatar’s from the 1st of September. The build up kept gathering momentum with more and more people coming on board every day.

Unfortunately the week before the official #PYB day we had some unfavourable comments about the whole campaign. We won’t dwell on it now, but at the time we did worry it would affect the campaign and stop people from supporting us, but there was no stopping our supporters who believe in our message and our campaign.

How can we be so sure it was our most successful year? Well we don’t have the previous two years figures because this campaign has grown and become more structured throughout this whole year, but we do have our September 2015 social media figures.

Twitter

We had 465.2K impressions throughout September. This means our tweets were seen on screens over 465K times; that’s one hell of a reach!

This gained us 1.2K Link clicks to our blog, Facebook and Pinterest combined. We had 3.4K Re-tweets; knowing people wanted to share our message that much is astounding and finally we had 4.36K favourites.

How amazing are those figures just from one platform!

Blog

#PYB have a blog where we share people’s experiences with Cancer, explain why we are doing what we do and what our aim is; we also explain where we get our information from so people can trust what we say.

Throughout September we had 1,041 views!

The blog was started in February and if you add all our views from February until the end of August you wouldn’t even get half the September figure.

Facebook

This is a hard platform to crack, most businesses struggle to get likes on their page and to turn those likes into real customers. Obviously we aren’t trying to get people to buy anything, we want to give them tools to keep themselves safe and healthy, but we still face the same struggle of building a following just as others do.

During the 2015 #PYB event however, we managed to tip 500 likes which is a big achievement in our books and helps to spread our message to those who aren’t on twitter.

We even created our own Pinterest account this year too where we proudly display the pictures our supporters shared with us throughout the three campaigns we have hosted since 2013.

So that was our 2015 event in figures, but our work hasn’t stop there . . . oh no! This year we had a very special and secret project happening on the run up to the event. 28 authors came together to create a book, an anthology of stories all one thousand words in length inspired by one picture.

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You can’t buy this book though, the only way you can get a copy of this book is through making a donation through the #PYB Just Giving Page and you will receive Framed by the #PYB Wordy Warriors as a thank you gift, just remember to fill in the registration form and you will find the link to that on the Just Giving page.

There is no minimum donation required, but we do urge you to dig deep, all donations of all sizes will help fight this vile disease.

Together let’s make C stand for Clear, not Cancer

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Lisa and V

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