October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the JV and Varsity cheerleaders at North Surry High School played a part in bringing that awareness to their school. For every game, home and away in the month of October, the cheerleaders wore pink socks and pink breast cancer-themed bows. They purchased breast cancer t-shirts to wear at school and the varsity squad has used pink pom-poms at the games.
During Spirit Week, held during the week of Homecoming, the varsity cheerleaders sponsored “Stick it to Breast Cancer” during lunch. They set up a selfie station where students could take pics and post on social media.
As the month was coming to an end, the cheerleaders invited Lana Holder, a mammography technologist with Northern Regional Hospital to present a program on breast cancer and breast health. Holder, being a former Greyhound cheerleader, was thrilled to return to her alma mater and work with these young women.
She started off her program asking the cheerleaders how many of them knew someone with breast cancer? Several of them raised their hands. The ladies had moms, grandmas, aunts and great-aunts that had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Emily Bruner, a varsity cheerleader, has had a personal experience with breast cancer. Her mother, Kim, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Emily shared that she was in the second grade when her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Holder continued the program by telling the young women what effect COVID-19 has had on breast health. During the pandemic, women often put off their mammograms. Unfortunately, by the time many women made their mammogram appointments, many months had passed. For this reason, the mammography department has seen an increase in more advanced breast cancers that typically would have been caught early had ladies not postponed their mammograms.
Holder brought a portable X-ray viewer and showed the ladies images of what healthy breasts look like as well as images with actual breast cancer. She talked about breast tissue and explained that many women, especially younger women, have dense breasts. For several of the young women, they had never heard that term. Many of the young women were surprised to find out that breast tissue covered the area from just under their collar-bone, their entire breast and all the way around to their armpit. Holder told the young women that breast cancer could occur in any of that large area.
She discussed the importance of knowing how your breast feel normally so that you will be aware when there are unusual changes in your breasts. She emphasized how important early detection was, when it comes to breast cancer. Holder then divided the young women into small groups and with gloved hands, each cheerleader was able to see if they could feel any irregularities or lumps in several breast models.
Airam Casas, a varsity cheerleader said, “I really liked this. She told us we didn’t have to feel embarrassed and we could ask her anything. It was just truthful and raw. I believe it’s beneficial for girls our age. A lot of us didn’t even know what to look for. It helped us to see what was normal and what was not.”
Holder gave each of the cheerleaders a gift but wanted to recognize the three senior girls, Mariana Ramos, Anahy Rincon and Jacey Ward, with a breast cancer tote than had many items, including a water bottle and mask that both displayed the word, “Hope.” The cheerleaders also had a small gift for Holder which included a North Surry T-shirt.
Junior Varsity Cheerleading Coach Karen Romero said, “Having Lana come and talk to the cheerleaders about breast cancer was an awesome experience. She provided very valuable information to the cheerleaders about breast cancer and made them more aware of risk factors and self-examinations. I think they all have a better understanding of what breast cancer is and will use their roles in the school to help make others aware of the illness as well.”