In the midst of planning an event aimed at promoting regular breast exams, Laura Marsh took her own advice and went to the doctor.
The mammogram found a lump, one that Mrs. Marsh likely would not have been able to detect by a self-examination. It was sobering news, but the executive director of the nonprofit Toledo and Northwest Ohio Cornucopia is using it as motivation to teach low-income or disadvantaged women about the importance of monitoring one’s breast health.
And she’s trying to make it fun.
Her agency is hosting a free Bra Bazaar from 1-4 p.m. Saturday where volunteers will be taking bra measurements, giving out free bras, providing information about breast exams, and helping the uninsured access mammograms. There will also be health and wellness vendors, a craft fair, and speakers from Susan G. Komen Northwest Ohio and the Breast Care Center at ProMedica Toledo Hospital.
“The event itself is meant to be educational and uplifting, a social event where women could come together,” Mrs. Marsh said.
Mrs. Marsh started Toledo and Northwest Ohio Cornucopia two years ago as an online social network where people could post items they wished to give away and others could post asking for items they need. She received many inquiries from women looking for bras and hosted the first Bra Bazaar online last year.
But the requests kept coming, so she decided to turn it into an annual event with her new brick-and-mortar space in Toledo. She has been collecting new and clean, gently-used bras in all colors, sizes, and styles in preparation for the event.
She said the organization wants to create a support system for all women, whether they’ve experienced breast cancer or they simply can’t afford a comfortable, supportive bra.
“Think about the women out there who have one bra that they have to wash over and over again, and it’s torn, and the straps are broken, and they’ve got it tied in a knot. That’s what they have to do,” said Jan Burgard-Moore, the agency’s community outreach coordinator.
She said bras are one of the last things a financially struggling woman is budgeting for, and they’re not inexpensive items.
“If they’re struggling to pay their light bill or to get groceries or whatever else, worrying about going and spending $50 or $100 on a bra, that’s not going to be at the top of their list,” she said.
Mrs. Burgard-Moore is encouraging women who have extra bras to clean out their drawers and bring the ones that are in good shape to Saturday’s Bra Bazaar to give away to those in need. While they’re there, they too can learn about breast cancer risk factors and how to do a self-breast exam, she said.
Volunteers also will collect clean winter clothing donations for the 2017 Tent City, a community effort Oct. 20-22 to benefit Toledo’s homeless and housing insecure.
The Bra Bazaar will be at Toledo and Northwest Ohio Cornucopia’s resource center, 3174 Bellevue Rd. For more information, call 419-283-2467.
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