Breast cancer survivors, others to converge on state Capitol 

The state Legislature's problem, in Judi Grove's estimation, is that when it comes to breast cancer, not enough legislators are paying attention. Grove is the founder of Breast Impressions and is the chair of Breast Cancer Awareness Day at the state Capitol on Tuesday.

The demonstration will place information, artwork and draw out crowds so lawmakers will be forced to acknowledge the movement as they come in and out of the chambers. Grove said the purpose is to bring the issue to the front of the minds of senators and representatives.

"Most people know at least one person who has had breast cancer, but when I ask the male senators, 'Who do you know who has had breast cancer?,' they just shrug their shoulders. If it wasn't their mother, wife or child, they wouldn't pay attention if someone told them," Grove said. "That's why men and women from across the state are coming. They are their constituents who voted for them and put them in office. The legislators need to see these people face to face and realize how breast cancer changed their lives."

Oklahoma City-based artist Kendall Howerton was commissioned to make two large sculptures based on the pink ribbon theme, both utilizing breasts as a way to further humanize the cause.

Grove said demonstrations like these have happened in other states, but this will be the first time Oklahoma will have an official awareness day. April 21 was named the official "Breast Cancer Awareness Day at the Capitol."

"We will have displays in the rotunda of 23 different groups around Oklahoma who do what they can for breast cancer victims and their families, whether screening for mammograms, treatment for cancer, to the support groups and groups like mine that do fund-raising," she said.

Grove lives in Tulsa and founded Breast Impressions as a way for breast cancer victims to make molds of their busts before a mastectomy. Grove has done fund-raisers with various groups, including local roller derby leagues that make molds and auction them off at bouts for charity.

A number of other groups will be on hand, such as Network of Strength, Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Oklahoma City-based Shout, which is a peer support group for young women survivors of cancer of any kind. Grove said the event's ability to reach young women and men is crucial since she sees that group as the most vulnerable.

"The biggest growth in breast cancer cases is amid younger women," Grove said. "Their doctors blow them off because they say, 'You are too young for breast cancer, so don't worry about that lump.' The lump doesn't go away, it gets bigger so they go to another doctor, but by that time it is stage 3 or 4 and they are fighting to save their lives."

One of Grove's biggest goals for breast cancer awareness is to start reaching younger women, including programs in high school that teach how to check for breast cancer. She also added that the breast cancer awareness movement wants to tap into the vitality of the younger generations.

"You can see how young voters are the ones who are really making a statement in this country," Grove said. "They are the reason so many people showed up to vote at the last election. We want senators and representatives in office who care about breast health and education, and the more people who come to this event, the more of an impact it will make." "Charles Martin

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