Organization name: Keep A Breast
Leadership: Shaney jo Darden
How did your organization get founded?
I founded Keep A Breast (KAB) 18 years ago after a friend, who was in her 20’s, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had no prior comprehension of how early in life breast cancer could strike. It flipped a switch in my brain, and I realized that it was my purpose to start this conversation with young people about breast cancer prevention. I wanted to do something that spoke to my peers.
In the beginning, I never intended to start a non-profit. It just happened very organically with the help of friends and supporters. In 2000, my friend Mona’s mother was experiencing a recurrence of breast cancer, and another friend of ours—who was our age—had been recently diagnosed. Mona and I were looking for some way to give back, and we couldn’t find anything interesting that spoke to us.
I was in the process of putting together large art and fashion events at the time called MODART and we thought, “Why not create an art show to raise awareness of breast cancer?” I asked all our artist friends to paint on breast casts, and the initial incarnation of Keep A Breast was born in 2000.
What is your mission?
Our mission is to empower young people around the world with breast health education and support.
Who do you serve?
Since the beginning, Keep A Breast has made connections with younger generations about breast health through music, art, skate, and surf culture. We speak to young people, in their own voice, about the causes of breast cancer, the preventative measures they can take individually, and the campaigns they can join to create change systemically.
We meet young people where they are, and we empower them with the education to help them be their own best advocates.
What kind of services do you provide?
We have several programs that range from education programs around early detection of breast cancer, how to lower your risk of developing breast cancer, and survivor support programs. Our impact for young people is rooted in prevention, we strive to give them the tools to live a preventative lifestyle and create a positive relationship with their breasts so they don’t fear to check them.
Our vision is a world without breast cancer. But until then, our mission is to educate young people about the true risks of cancer, ways of living a healthy, non-toxic lifestyle, and the importance of a “self-check” to ensure early detection.
What are your goals for the future of the organization?
Next year is our 20th Anniversary, and we are embarking on a new project called The Keep A Breast Valley. The KAB Valley is a wellness center and desert community that will provide space and tools for visitors to explore and nurture individual and collective wellness.
Our ultimate goal is for everyone to have the Check Yourself! App on their phone so they are reminded every month to do their self-check and be their own health advocate.
Why do you choose to work with Lymphedivas?
I’m an artist, and my background is in fashion. I love that Lymphedivas brings art and beauty to something technical and needed by many women. I think you bring so much beauty to the world, and being a part of that brings us so much joy.
Are there any upcoming events or fundraisers?
Our national campaign is called Fit 4 Prevention. It’s a grassroots education and fundraising campaign that aspires to get people moving to lower their risk of developing breast cancer. Anyone can be a part of it; you can host a class or join a class. Check out fit4prevention.org for details.