Following a breast injury in 2018, founder and director of Boob Armour Suzie Betts realised just how overwhelmingly ignored breast protection was for women in contact sports.
This revelation was first ignited when Betts found lumps in her right breast and went to a breast cancer surgeon to investigate.
“She asked me if I had ever received a trauma, which I thought was a weird question at the time,” Betts tells Women’s Agenda, noting that she hadn’t immediately understood what the term meant.
“What actually happens, and why the surgeon asked me that question, is you can receive trauma to your breasts,” she says, adding that this kind of injury can present itself as fat necrosis in the breasts later in life, which mimics breast cancer cells.
This means that breast trauma may look similar to breast cancer even though it isn’t.
For Betts, the lumps in her breasts were a result of trauma rather than cancer but she had to undergo a fair few tests to uncover this– all of which added up in financial cost and could have been avoided.
If she had known about breast trauma beforehand, Betts says she might have been able to save herself from a breast cancer scare and address her breast injury quicker.
What came to mind next were her daughters– both of whom play contact sports. Betts didn’t want them or other female athletes to have to continue to go unprotected.
“So I went looking into what actual research had been done on breast injuries, and what I found was only coming out of college sports,” she says. “Which basically showed that girls are getting injuries from playing sports and most of the time were just wearing a sports bra– no protection.”
This lack of research and protection for women in contact sports lit a fire in Betts, who got to work testing materials and creating protective pads that could easily be inserted into bras to fit breasts in their natural shape.
The result is an innovative design that’s now gone through extensive medical research. Having had global reach, Boob Armour’s breast protection is truly changing the game for the unique needs of women and girls.
Betts’ company has partnered not only with sporting organisations like the AFL/AFLW, but also the military, train drivers, mine worker and dog groomers– amongst many more– in order to increase Boob Armour’s impact to various occupations where breast injury could occur.
Recognised for her incredible work bringing breast health into mainstream conversation, Betts was named Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2023 Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards, where she said that, with Boob Armour’s growth, she’s now “totally obsessed with protecting all girls and women in sport and in occupations where their breasts can be impacted and injured.”
As for what’s next, Betts says she and the Boob Armour team hope to see girls begin to wear the product as soon as they start playing sport, to protect their breasts from as early as possible.
“We’ve had school chats over the years– we’ve also gone out to clubs and leagues,” she says. “We’re really creating a platform that is about long term breast health.”
The positive feedback is following Boob Armour’s success as well, with Betts receiving constant messages from women and girls who tell her how much of an impact the product has had on their confidence in general.
Just that morning, while speaking with Women’s Agenda, Betts received a noticably heartwarming message from a girl in Ireland that said: “I’ve been using Boob Armour for about a year now. I’ve been recently noticing how much of a change it has had on my life.”
“I play women’s rugby and for the last few years, I thought it was just a normal thing for me to have bruises and bumps on my boobs from playing matches. I’ve been noticing how I haven’t been suffering from any pain or bruising because of Boob Armour.”
“I just wanted to reach out and say that I’m really grateful for your product and the change you’re having on women’s sport,” the message reads.
The influence that Boob Armour is having on women’s health in general, isn’t going unnoticed either, and Betts says her “number one goal is to make this a mandated product”.
“I want to advocate for this to the right people because we really do need to see [breast trauma] seriously considered as an injury that is totally preventable.”