Johannesburg - In a world first, a top-quality sports bra that promotes the early detection of breast cancer has this week been launched.
The undergarment uses hidden inner lining to communicate how to correctly perform a self-breast examination, as well as what warning signs to look out which could necessitate further examination by a professional.
The innovative bra was created by CheckKnowPrevent, a South African non-profit organisation.
“The idea emerged to leverage a garment worn daily by every woman to act as a prompt for regular self-examination,” CEO Debbie Gebhardt said.
“Our unique and innovative concept is a sports bra that performs as well as the best on the market but has an added purpose and benefit.”
The organisation explained that breast cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer worldwide.
“It’s a daunting fact that one in 26 South African women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime,” they said.
“On a positive note, when diagnosed at stage 1, the five-year survival rate is high at 98% – at stage 0 this rises to almost 100%.
“What this tells us in no uncertain terms is that early detection is key to survival.”
Gebhardt believes that an annual mammogram or a once-a-year reminder during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to check your breasts is simply not enough.
“Breast examination needs to become part of your routine, with you performing a thorough self-examination at least every two weeks,” she said.
“Early detection can help reduce deaths from the disease and may limit the need for extensive treatment, which can cause substantial side effects and longer-term health issues.”
She added that they have often found that women also do not know how to correctly examine their breasts.
“Cancer affects one in four South Africans, through diagnosis of family, friends, colleagues or self.
“Currently, one in eight women run the risk of developing some form of cancer, while research shows that cancer is predicted to rise in prevalence by 78% by 2030 in South Africa.”
Gebhardt added that premature, and potentially avoidable, death from cancer in developing countries is not only a human tragedy, but also an economic one, as she said that $46.3 billion is lost to productivity due to cancer in developing countries (BRICS) annually.
“Our comfortable yet supportive sports bra features removable padding and a stylish design with subtle gathering in the front.
“The outer fabric is made from an 85% polyester and 15% spandex blend, while the inner is 95% polyester and 5% spandex for added support,” said Gebhardt.
The garment can be worn as a supportive workout sports bra or a comfortable, fashionable racer-back cropped tank top and was designed and manufactured in South Africa.
“In addition to promoting the bra online, we will also attend company wellness days and have a presence at large events, offering breast examinations by trained professionals and measurements by a bra expert.
“These paid events and the sales of the bras will enable to us to meet the aims of our organisation, which is to provide bras to Grade 11 and 12 girls in need, and host free education drives at schools and community centres in disadvantaged areas to educate women on self-checking, dispel myths and ensure they are empowered with the facts about breast cancer.”
She said that for every five bras the organisation sells, they donate one to a Grade 11 or 12 learner in need.
“It is never too early to learn about breast cancer as it is affecting increasingly younger women.”