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The Brazette

An End of Year Review Before It’s ’22

15 December 2021

It’s the end of 2021, and in the words of Taylor Swift, we’re feeling ‘22. We’re ready for a lot less lockdown and a lot more IRL than the past two years, but before we launch ourselves into the New Year, it’s time to channel the ghost of Christmas past and reflect on the year it’s been. 

We’ll start by throwing it back to January – it’s cold, it’s dark, the UK’s in lockdown and Team Boobs are experiencing one of the busiest Januarys to date, starting with the launch of our first ever Chest Chat episode, joined by the wonderful Lucy who chatted to us about knowing her normal. 

February marked our founder Kris’ 12th cancerversary where we took a trip down Mammary Lane, remembering some of the best turd-glittering moments from the past 12 years, and trying to contain our excitement after seeing the launch of Kris’ brand new book cover (more to come on that later). February also gave us World Cancer Day, where we joined forces with the team at Animade to create Stop & CoppaFeel!, reminding you to give your chest a squeeze, jiggle and tweak.

Ever a team who are looking for an excuse to learn a new dance routine, we launched CoppaFeel!’s new TikTok channel with Kris kicking off proceedings by sending some compliments to her chest for International Women’s Day. Little did the others at Boob HQ know that they would soon be roped in to turn every TikTok trend boob-themed. We blame our social media manager, Meg.

By March, most of the UK were still working from home which meant we hadn’t yet seen the back of the dreaded Zoom calls, regularly interrupted by cats, dogs, doorbells and dodgy wifi. But that didn’t stop our Uni Boob Teams from finding innovative new ways to raise awareness amongst their student peers. Boob HQ’s Health Engagement Coordinator Clare also embraced more of the digital by launching a new series of webinars specifically for healthcare professionals, seeing more than 170 professionals get clued up on all the breast cancer awareness biz. 

On April 1st we managed to trick the nation into believing we were launching a new range of Missoma nipple rings, but we weren’t joking when we said we’d recruited 56 new Boobettes that month. Despite having to stick to virtual talks for most of the year, nothing stopped our determined bunch of Boobettes who went on to deliver 244 talks across 2021!

Talking of determination, we couldn’t let May go past without a challenge, which is why we were thrilled to be an official charity partner of the 5K May with Run for Heroes. And while Team Boobs wore in their walking boots, Kris was busy making front page news on the front of The Guardian newspaper. Just your average day in the office. 

In June, Millie, Clare and Sophie from the Education Team got busy releasing a new British Sign Language version of our ‘How to Check Your Boobs’ video. And when we began to see lockdown restrictions lifted, it meant only one thing: June became the month of treks. While Phoebe, Katie and our student trekkers took on the Jurassic Coast for our first post-lockdown challenge, CoppaFeel! patron and trekking extraordinaire Giovanna Fletcher joined Matt Willis, Samira Mighty, Candice Brown, and 100 trekkers in sunny Cornwall to conquer the South West Coast Path.

Back at Boob Towers, June saw the launch of our brand new checking resources for trans and non-binary people in collaboration with the UK’s only LGBT+ cancer charity, Live Through This. As well as brand new posters, we launched a brand new package of digital resources, with info on overcoming dysphoria during transition and checking after top-surgery. Our Head of Marketing, Sinéad, joined Live Through This’ CEO, Stewart, for a live chat about the project. 

And the new resources didn’t stop there. The summer saw the launch of the long-awaited Self-Checkout: a brand new tool designed to walk you through every step of your chest check from start to finish (it even allows you to set up a reminder so you can check again every month!) After four years of hard work, 16 focus groups, one National Lottery Grant and many, many hours of hard graft from our Education Team and the fabulous teams at Miroma Project Factory and Common Collective, you could say that Boob HQ were the teeniest bit ecstatic to share the Self-Checkout with the world.

Meanwhile, some of our fabulous supporters were busy doing ‘Summer-Thing Good’ in the name of norks. From skydives and an ultra-challenge up Snowdon, to a solo cycle through Europe, we saw people take on the weird and wonderful in order to fundraise towards our life-saving work. 

As many people in the UK started to return to the office over the summer, we had just the thing for those new commutes: our very own podcast, Boob Share! We were over the moon to join forces with the talented lover of all things boobs Jackie Adedeji, who hosted the series of hilarious and heartwarming chats with a range of celebrity guests including Olivia Bowen, Rosie Jones, Giovanna Fletcher, Vicky Pattison, Scarlett Moffatt and more! Let’s just say, if you see any of Team Boobs with a pair of headphones on, you know what they’re listening to. 

In August, we decided it was time to show our GraTITude to everyone who had supported CoppaFeel! during the pandemic and beyond. Team Boobs dropped tools for a day, and were joined by the wonderful Vicky Pattison and Ercan Ramadan to start a #NippleEffect of graTITude amongst all those that stuck by us and helped us glitter all the turds of 2021.

Talking of turd glittering, it’s time to return to the small matter of a certain founder’s book. Cast your mind back to April 2020: the world was locked down, and while most of us binge-watched Tiger King and baked endless amounts of banana bread, Kris Hallenga was chained to her desk (not literally, don’t worry) writing what is now a SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER. No biggie. Glittering a Turd landed in the hands of eager readers up and down the country, inspiring everyone to live life to the fullest and of course, get to know their bodies. 

In fact, we wanted to encourage people to do just that with our brand new campaign, Know Yourself. Even though anyone can be affected by breast cancer, a quarter of young people don’t realise they’re at risk, which is why we wanted to encourage people to get to know their bodies and how they change. Know Yourself started appearing in magazines, cinemas and TV screens around the UK. Our Marketing Manager Harri ventured out into London to spot Know Yourself on a giant billboard! To top it off, Fujifilm’s House of Photography in Covent Garden became the ‘House of Boobography’ for a whole month to showcase Kristina Varaksina’s beautiful Know Yourself photography

 

This brings us to September, and if you thought we were trekked-out after our two challenges in the Summer, you’re wrong. CEO Nat, Fundraiser Ellie and 100 new trekkers joined Giovanna Fletcher, Gemma Atkinson, Emma Willis, Selasi Gbormittah and Candice Brown in the Scottish Highlands, marking our third trek of the year and initiating Selasi’s Highlands hair braiding salon.

While our trekkers recovered from their adventure, 1000 Volkswagen vehicles donned some fancy dress (yes, fancy dress for cars is a thing) and turned 47 miles of the M25 into a moving billboard for CoppaFeel! as part of Run the Ring’s annual event. Not only did they raise over £66,000 for CoppaFeel!, but they also introduced some surprised commuters on the M25 to the world of boob-checking.

Run the Ring weren’t the only ones on the move: at the start of October, Team Boobs packed their bags (and a few van-loads) and said goodbye to Boob HQ at Pope Street. After months of planning, painting, decorating and a fair few back and forth trips for Eleanor collecting boob props, we opened the door to the brand new Boob HQ at Bickels Yard. (It’s pretty snazzy) 

Whilst Team Boobs became accustomed to fancy new meeting rooms and the luxury of three toilets, the excitement of Breast Cancer Awareness Month began with the launch of a new TikTok challenge! We were delighted to see so many people take part and tell us how they touch their boobs, feel their pecs and discover their chests. 

Meanwhile, in the throes of Coptober (Oh Golly Creative’s ingenious new name for Breast Cancer Awareness Month) our brand partners were breaking the internet with their incredible BCAM campaigns…quite literally. Everyone remember the day that Instagram shut down? That also happened to be the day that Lounge Underwear released 100,000 thongs on sale for CoppaFeel! Maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe Lounge Underwear are so truly epic that the mad rush for thongs broke the internet. (We think it’s the latter) 

While our social media manager Meg twiddled her thumbs and decided the best course of action without Instagram, Team Boobs watched in awe as our other brilliant brand partners Barry M, Bo + Tee, Bravissimo, Fabletics, Fujifilm, LOOKFANTASTIC, Olivia’s, PrettyLittleThing, Shein and Skinny Tan took to the stage. From candles to activewear, to pyjamas and self tan, we were overwhelmed with the support from our brand breasties this BCAM. 

And the fun didn’t stop there: our longstanding pals at Avon have supported CoppaFeel! all year round and during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) for over four years, and this year was no different. Not only did they donate to CoppaFeel! from their phenomenal BCAM range, but we also loved seeing our Boobettes star in the campaign, brochure and at their annual conference. We felt like proud parents.

This year was also a big year for Asda Tickled Pink who celebrated their 25th anniversary! In true Tickled Pink style, Asda stores up and down the country saw some of our favourite products turn pink, and even added chest-checking reminders to the back of till receipts. A special mention must go to the Asda colleagues who found fabulous and fun ways to raise money, including head shaves, rowing challenges, fancy dress and pies to the face! What’s more, they even managed to rope in Lucy and Jenna from our Partnerships team to teach Team Boobs a brand new dance as part of their world record attempt.

Which brings us to November. Even though Coptober had officially come to an end, Team Boobs’ work didn’t stop there. Breast cancer awareness is as important all year round as it is in October, as demonstrated by every person who got in touch with us this year to share their personal stories. Although it is sobering to hear from so many young people who have been affected by breast cancer, we also recognise that these stories help us to show the importance of getting to know your body, and encourage other young people to get to know their normal. It’s why we’re so grateful to everyone who chose to share theirs. 

We got to share some of these stories even further with the help of the brilliant team at DockATot whose heartfelt campaign helped spread awareness amongst new and expectant mums about the importance of checking your chest and getting any changes checked out by a doctor.

After over 18 months since our last IRL event, Marketing and Events Exec. Emmie jumped at the chance to get Belinda back out on the road to make a guest appearance at Social in the City in London. Adorned in tassels, with badges and boob balls in tow, we were beyond excited to welcome so many content creators to Belinda (and learn all the trending TikTok dances.)  

Another first for CoppaFeel! events, we decided to dip a toe into the world of virtual shows, joining forces with the National Apprenticeship Shows for their series of virtual events for young people and school leavers. We’re not going to lie…we got pretty excited when we got to watch the little avatars wander around the virtual exhibition hall. Like Sims, for people who want to talk about boobs. 

As 2021 wound to a close and Team Boobs started preparing for Christmas festivities (with the help of our Christmas guru Katie and our pals at Scribbler) we were granted an early Christmas present with the news that CoppaFeel! has received Patient Information Forum accreditation, which means that all our fabulous resources (including our brand new checking leaflets available in 5 languages!) are sources of high-quality health information, so you can feel reassured that our information is credible and trustworthy. 

*Wipes away sweat from forehead* That’s quite a lot squeezed into one year, especially one that started in lockdown. But none of this can be accomplished alone. It takes a village to make things happen, or in our case: volunteers, fundraisers, patrons, trustees, our Medical, Education and Inclusive Change Advisory Groups, and YOU. It is because of you that the CoppaFeel! wheel keeps turning and more young people start to check their chest, which is why we thank you for all your support. We wish you a very happy New Year from Boob HQ, and if you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, we’ve got you covered…New Year, new me (still chest checking). 

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