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Hair salons urged to become “breast friends”

SIMCOE, ON, OCT. 8, 2008 – Hair stylists in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties are being asked to become “breast friends” to their clients and join in the battle against breast cancer.

The full-fledged Be a Breast Friend Project is being launched this month by the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit and other Health Units in southwestern Ontario following a successful pilot project last year.

‘”We asked 10 salons to become ‘breast friends’ last year and talk to their clients about the importance of having regular mammograms, especially for women who are 50 and older, to detect breast cancer in the early stages, when it is most treatable,” explained Population Health Team Health Promoter Michele Crowley. “The program was so successful that we’re expanding it to all salons in Haldimand and Norfolk Counties. The website at www.beabreastfriend.ca has prizes for stylists and clients, and the new edition of Squeeze magazine provides up-to-date information on breast cancer.”

Other public Health Units participating in the Be a Breast Friend Project are Brant, Halton, Hamilton and Niagara. The project is funded by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation-Ontario Region, whose partners include the Canadian Cancer Society and the Ontario Breast Screening Program.

“Women have a uniquely personal relationship with their hair stylists,” Crowley noted. “They tell them things they wouldn’t even tell their best friends. Women trust their stylists and listen to their advice, which makes them the perfect people to talk to women about having regular mammograms.”

Salons and stylists who participate in the program receive free educational resources, including copies of Squeeze magazine, and talk to clients around four main topics:
·Mammograms can save lives by finding breast changes in the early stages.
·Women 50 and older need regular mammograms every one to two years.
·Women 50 and older can book their own free mammograms by calling the Ontario Breast Screening Program at 1-800-668-9304.
·All women should understand how their breasts normally look and feel and talk to their doctors about any changes.

Participating stylists can also give their clients the Canadian Cancer Society’s “thingamaboob,” a funky yet educational key chain made of clear, pink beads that show women the different lump sizes that can be detected through a variety of breast-screening methods.

Pilot project participants speak highly about their experience being a “breast friend.”

“I’ve found it really easy to talk to women about these issues and encourage them to book a mammogram,” said Heather Stone, owner of Final Touch Hair & Body Care in Simcoe.

For more information about the Be a Breast Friend Project, visit www.beabreastfriend.ca.

Media contact:
Michele Crowley, Health Promoter, Population Health Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
519-426-6170 Ext 3239 or 905-318-6623 Ext. 3239