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Breast Cancer Foundation apologises for causing ‘any confusion or offence to anyone’ after posters drew flak

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The posters in question have been put up at lift lobbies. — Picture via Facebook/Pam Oei
The posters in question have been put up at lift lobbies. — Picture via Facebook/Pam Oei

SINGAPORE, Nov 22 — The Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) has apologised for causing “any confusion or offence to anyone” after posters for its Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign drew flak from netizens.BCF said that in light of the Covid-19 situation, it had “decided to leverage that to remind people about breast cancer”.

One of the campaign posters had an illustration of a woman wearing a mask accompanied with the words: “To stop the spread, mask up. For your breasts, go up, down, in, out and all around.”

Another poster had an illustration of a house with the accompanying words: “Staying home saves lives. Heading out saves breasts.”

BCF said in a Facebook post last month that the posters had been put up at lift lobbies to highlight the importance of regular breast self-examinations.

Local actress Pamela Oei took to Facebook on Nov 19 to share images of the posters at the lift lobby of her home, saying she found it hard to understand the message they were trying to convey.

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“To stop the spread of breast cancer I have to examine my breasts? But breast cancer doesn’t spread that way what! Heading out where saves breasts? Aiyoh what kind of messaging is this?!?“Can anyone break it down for me?” she asked.

Her post had received about 160 reactions and 93 comments as of 12pm on Sunday.

Responding to TODAY’s queries on Nov 20, a spokesman from the BCF pointed us to its reply to the comments on Ms Oei’s Facebook post.

The BCF spokesman explained the rationale behind the campaign, saying that this year, because of the circuit breaker and stay-home advisories, many women postponed their mammograms.

“Unfortunately, breast cancer doesn’t stop even in a pandemic. So we still need to be proactive in our fight.

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“Since everyone’s attention has been on Covid-19, we decided to leverage that to remind people about breast cancer — another health crisis that also needs urgent attention.

“The juxtaposition between Covid-19 and mammogram/breast self-examination advice is meant to intrigue people to read on and scan our QR code to know more.”

Responding to BCF’s reply, Oei said the message that the organisation wanted to send out with the ads was garbled.

“It was not clear at all what it was trying to say and when people are confused and irritated (not intrigued) by an ad, they are not going to scan the QR code to know more (maybe also you can add a line somewhere to scan the QR code for more info),” she said.

“Also, realistically and grammatically, one cannot go IN and OUT of a breast during (breast self-examination)…”

A Facebook user who goes by the name Leigh Pasqual suggested that BCF take down and stop using the ads.

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“At this point they are not only unclear, but they are making a mockery of breast cancer. People are laughing and that is the last thing you probably wanted to achieve with these ads,” she said.

BCF did not issue further responses to the comments. — TODAY

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