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October 15, 2015

Inflatable breasts draw eyes, people to wellness event

The exhibit depicts the interior of both healthy and cancerous breasts

Health News Breast Cancer
Inflatable_Breasts John Kopp/PhillyVoice

At a women's wellness event in South Philadelphia in October 2015, the 20-foot-long Ameribreast exhibit allowed visitors to walk inside and observe the insides of both a healthy and cancerous human breast.

What's the best way to bring some lightheartedness to a subject as serious as breast cancer?

For The Goldenberg Group, a real estate developer hosting a women's wellness event Thursday in South Philadelphia, the answer was inflatable breasts. Eye-catching ones, at that. 

"We were thinking we'd do a couple tables and some mammograms," said Ellen Rosenberg, director of civic engagement for the development firm. "That's when my colleague came to me and said, 'What if we had these huge, inflatable breasts?' I said, 'Sure, why not?'

"It's important to be creative. You can't slam information down their throats."

But blowing up a pair of breasts – 13 feet high and 20 feet long – creates a new avenue for disseminating information that could prove life-saving. 

The Ameribreast walkthrough exhibit, created by Interactive Exhibits of Houston, depicts the insides of both a healthy and a cancerous breast, featuring lymph nodes, blood vessels and milk ducts. It also includes placards detailing screenings and mammograms, breast anatomy, cancer warning signs, Inflammatory Breast Cancer and non-cancerous lumps.

"Knowledge is power," said Tina Robinson, a Philadelphia resident who walked through the exhibit with her neighbor, Audrey Smalls. "The more knowledge you get, the more prepared you are to take care of yourself and your family. This is an excellent idea."

The goal, Rosenberg said, was to provide a stress-free environment where women could receive information critical to their health.

The wellness event combined serious education – health screenings, information booths and an opportunity to meet with a registered nurse – with fitness sessions that included yoga, Zumba and qigong.

"You have to draw people in," Rosenberg said. "If you can bring a little lightness to it, you'll find you can bring more people in."

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The Ameribreast exhibit depicts the inside of both a cancerous breast, shown above, and a healthy breast. (John Kopp / PhillyVoice)

The Goldenberg Group holds monthly outreach events throughout Philadelphia. The company previously has held a community festival in West Philly, renovated schools and supported Cradles to Crayons

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Goldenberg Group focused on a disease that affects one in eight American women.

Diane Pirollo, a registered nurse at Methodist Hospitalencourages women over age 35 to get an annual mammogram and also conduct monthly self-examinations. She met with various women throughout the wellness event.

"I'm struck by the amount of women who say, 'I need to do this,' but they haven't taken the time to do it," Pirollo said. "Women are caregivers. They care about everybody else and forget about themselves."

A couple hundred people visited the wellness event, Rosenberg said. Some of them had planned to attend. Others, mainly shoppers at Snyder Plaza, wondered over after seeing the inflatable breast exhibit from afar.

If not quite the centerpiece of the event, the inflatable breasts certainly marked the biggest spectacle. 

Tracey Scott-Barnes and her daughter, Dee Scott, saw the exhibit as they exited the nearby Target. Dee Scott wanted a picture, so they curiously walked over.

"It's amazing how you can look (inside)," Scott-Barnes said. "They have the ducts, the nipples and the chest. You would never believe that's what's going on inside your body."

Scott-Barnes, of Philadelphia, has had some close calls with breast cancer. She said her best friend beat the disease and her mother discovered a benign lump. 

Yet, Scott-Barnes says she is not scared of breast cancer. But she won't take any chances.

"I think it's very important to get check-ups," she said.

For detailed information on breast cancer, including prevention steps, treatment, causes and research, visit the National Cancer Institute website

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