The cold, wet plaster crept down the torso of the young woman standing near the window. Her mummified chest looked a little like a tube top, only this top was a little slimy feeling.
“It feels like snot, especially as it flows down your belly,” said Judi Grove, co-founder of the nonprofit Breast Impressions, which was at the home of Tornado Alley Rollergirls skater Tobi Bounds to make plaster casts of the members’ chests.
Breast Impressions donates cast kits to women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, so they can have a memory of their pre-surgery body, and also uses donated casts ” such as those from the Tornado Alley skaters ” for fund-raisers. The Rollergirls plan to add some artistic touches to their casts and then auction them off at their first bout of the 2009 season, 7 p.m., Jan. 17, with proceeds supporting Shout: Young Women Cancer Survivors.
BREAST CANCER BOUT
The Bout Against Breast Cancer event will be at the Oklahoma City Farmers Public Market, 311 S. Klein. Every woman who attends will receive a breast self-exam shower card.
“You know, in Tulsa, we have penguins on every corner; in Oklahoma City it’s buffaloes. I would like to see a pair of boobs in every office,” Grove said.
While the Tornado Alley Rollergirls are probably no strangers to casts to mend broken limbs, they were new to having wet plaster strips pressed against their chests. But for some league members, there is a personal connection for getting involved with this project.
“My mother and my aunt both died of cancer, and their brothers, too,” said Angela Summers, who goes by the nom de skate Splits McGee. “So this is an issue that’s really close to my heart from that standpoint. And we’re all sisters in this world, and we want to help our sisters out.”
It’s also close to the heart of another rollergirl, Kelly Farris, who goes by Dirty Dawnie when she’s on the track. She said her aunt is a breast cancer survivor who found out during a regularly scheduled mammogram.
“If she can go through that, I can do this,” Farris said, noting that her aunt is only in her 40s.
Grove herself understands the scare of breast cancer, and through Breast Impressions, she and co-founder Nancy Coryell are engaged in a true battle against the disease. In 2006, doctors thought Grove had breast cancer. She was ordered to have a lumpectomy, which prompted her to find some way of “preserving” her physical identity in case a mastectomy was needed. That’s how she stumbled upon the idea of creating plaster casts from the Keep a Breast Foundation, a California nonprofit. Grove and Coryell saw a need for a similar group in Oklahoma and started Breast Impressions.
Grove’s full-time job is now her nonprofit, although she doesn’t make any money at it. All proceeds support community prevention and treatment assistance or go to making free cast kits for those who are newly diagnosed.
“Anytime a woman, usually through MySpace, contacts me that she’s been diagnosed “¦ then I donate a kit and mail it to her,” said Grove, who found out her mass was benign 12 days after surgery.
Grove has sent out nearly 100 kits since Breast Impressions began in January 2007. She said having some kind of record of their pre-cancer identity is important to those who have been diagnosed.
“They absolutely love it and all of them send me their pictures once they finish decorating it. And it’s just so awesome,” she said. “They’re just so proud of their memory ” they made a memory of who they were.”
For more information about the bout and fund-raiser, contact Sarah Hamby at 476-6108. For more information on Breast Impressions, visit http://www.breastimpressions.com.
The Tornado Alley Rollergirls will have their final bout of 2008 at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Farmers Public Market. “Deborah Benjamin