Alumna launches cancer education project at ‘Boobs and Bling’ event


Courtesy of Kelly Bugden
Courtesy of Kelly Bugden
University of Delaware alumna, Kelly Bugden, educates students on breast cancer awareness.

When university alumna Kelly Bugden was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 27, she underwent intense treatment that often left her breasts sore and sensitive. Because of this, Budgen often opted against wearing a bra in her day-to-day life because they only added to the pain. She would joke that she was “freeboobin’.”

Throughout her treatment, Bugden began to learn more about cancer prevention and the rising rates of breast cancer in young women. It also became increasingly clear to her that a discussion about breasts and breast cancer is still a relatively taboo subject — Bugden decided to change that.

“I got inspired to create a breast health awareness platform to hopefully go around to different college and high school campuses to educate women about preventative measures they can take, [and] teach them how to do a breast self exam ‘cause a lot of women aren’t doing that especially at our age,” she says.

Bugden named her platform Freeboobin’ after her days spent braless. In addition to her desire to make breast cancer a more freely discussed topic, the Tom Petty song, “Free Fallin’” also inspired the name.

“While the term freeboobin’ is a bit risque, it’s meant to encourage women to be comfortable, and feel free to discuss their boobs, as it’s a vital part of our well being,” she says.

On Monday, Nov. 13, Bugden launched Freeboobin’ at Boobs and Bling, an event sponsored by the Fashion Merchandising Club.

Junior Morgan Patton, the club’s secretary, says that the event combined fashion and health. Representatives from eff.Y.bee and Viva Love Boutique added bling to the event with tables of merchandise, and the Student Nurses Organization (SNO) and university women’s health clinic each sent representatives as well.

Bugden took the stage after attendees had the opportunity to browse the boutiques’ tables and opened up about her own cancer experience. When Bugden found the initial lump in her breast, she was told by her doctors she would have to wait to get tested, but she insisted that she be seen by radiologists immediately.

“When I went to make an appointment for the ultrasound, they told me that their first available was three months out, again, I wasn’t going to take no for an answer,” Bugden says.

After telling her own story, Bugden, who recently hit her five-year milestone being cancer- free, gave attendees a brief lesson on cancer and the lymphatic system. She taught how to perform a breast self exam, explaining that women need to know their bodies.

Freshman Lexi Serafim saw the event on a friend’s Snapchat story, and wanted to stop by and learn more.

“I thought it was really helpful, [there was] stuff that I didn’t really know about,” she says. “My grandmother had breast cancer, so I feel like it’s something that I should be aware of too, and I didn’t even know how to self examine.”

Now that she has given her first talk, Bugden wants to keep visiting schools and educating young people, with a goal to eventually expand and create national programs.

“I am just here to spread a message and touch whoever I can and if it makes a difference of one girl feeling her boobs and being in touch with her body, then that’s what’s important to me,” she says.


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