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Following Your Intuition to Breast Health
The Fondle Project is Changing The Narrative Around Breast Cancer

ReSpin Connect 
By: Sarah Clark


Gina Lamanna is a force. Between styling A-list celebs, owning a successful clothing boutique Spool in Los Angeles, and raising her two daughters, the breast cancer survivor is now adding The Fondle Project. Inspired by Lamanna’s personal experience discovering breast cancer at age 41 through a self-exam, the movement — which launches June 1 — is dedicated to changing the narrative around breast cancer and helping us rē-think our approach to self-detection. With breast cancer accounting for 30% of all newly diagnosed cancers in women yearly, The Fondle Project also aims to normalize breasts and breast health by creating an open, inclusive, and educational space encouraging women to be proactive about their breast health.

Through The Fondle Project, Lamanna wants to promote the idea that women must tune into their bodies and follow their intuition — something that saved her life after two false-negative mammograms and a misdiagnosis. “I followed my gut feeling and found a lump in my breast that all my doctors missed. This early detection saved my life,” says Lamanna, one of four million breast cancer survivors in the United States today. “I wanted to get my story out there and encourage other women to do self-examinations because it is such a common disease and treatable if caught early.”

Know Your Normal

According to Susan G. Komen, someone in the world dies from breast cancer every 46 seconds; after lung cancer, it’s the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women. Therefore, early detection is crucial to survival. The Fondle Project promotes regular breast self-exams and invites women to become familiar with their breasts to detect any changes or irregularities. “Know your normal,” emphasizes Lamanna, highlighting the importance of knowing what is normal for one’s breasts in size, shape, texture, and overall appearance.

Conversations about self-touch are equally important when destigmatizing myths around breast cancer, i.e., that it only affects older women and women with a family history. “Sadly, this disease is affecting women younger and younger, and the greatest tools we have for early detection are self-exams and conversations — privately and publicly — around our breast health,” she says.


Signs and Symptoms To Look For Include

A new lump or mass in the breast or underarm area
Changes in breast size or shape
Any skin changes on the breast, such as dimpling or puckering
Nipple changes include inversion or discharge, redness, or breast skin thickening.
Persistent breast pain or tenderness.
Swelling or lumps in the lymph nodes under the arm. (“Women forget to check under and around their armpits,” Lamanna notes. “Always examine your underarms during your self-exams.”)
While not all breast changes are signs of breast cancer, it’s important to address them with your doctor for further evaluation. “Remember, early detection is key to successful treatment and survival.”


When to Get an Ultrasound

Jasmine Khorsandi of Sono Breasts in Santa Monica, Calif., recommends that women get their first breast ultrasound at age 30. “I do pick up breast cancers in women that are 24 years old. Therefore, you can even get a baseline in your 20s,” she says. While certain known factors increase the risk of breast cancer (age, being female), most breast cancer patients do not have a family history. “If you do have a family history, I highly recommend getting a baseline at 25 and doing bloodwork to see if you’re BRCA positive,” she adds.

A SonoCine whole breast ultrasound is conducted with a radiation-free robot that records 3,000 images of your breast tissue, lymph nodes, and between your breast tissue. “The standard ultrasound misses a lot of findings because the technician is holding the probe themselves,” she says.

Khorsandi also explains why ultrasound is important for women with dense breast tissue, as a mammogram cannot detect cancer. “Dense breast tissue is white, and breast cancer is also white. Therefore, it is like looking for a snowball in the snow. The ultrasound works for dense breast tissue because any abnormality will pop up on the screen as a black spider and be more easily spotted.”

Embracing and Celebrating Our Bodies

To coincide with its debut, The Fondle Project is releasing a campaign centered around the stories of some of Lamanna’s fellow women thrivers. Featuring the work of beauty and fashion photographer Kate Powers and a team of makeup artists and stylists, it captures the real-life experiences of women who have gone through breast-health challenges.

As part of the campaign, The Fondle Project has partnered with seven female-founded fashion brands — Fleur du Mal, Jacquie Aiche, Goldie Tees, Parrish LA, Sticky Be Socks, Smythe, and XiRENA — to raise funds for breast cancer research and advocacy. Ten percent of sales from particular pieces will go to partner charities for June.

“We are focused on body positivity and inclusivity,” says Lamanna, who has leaned into years of her experience as a stylist to support other women undergoing breast cancer treatment and recovery. “By embracing and celebrating our bodies, survivors can regain their confidence, femininity, and sexuality,” she says.

Find the Fondle Project online and follow along on Instagram @thefondleproject.

Campaign DP: Charlie Barkhorn