Breast cancer awareness comes in different ways for many people to understand. Being able to break it down for youth is a different ball game, because you want the information to stick and be relevant. Keep A Breast foundation has mastered that with simple mantras, educational tools and a slogan that will get you talking. I had the opportunity to interview Shaney Jo Darden, co-founder and global CEO of Keep A Breast Foundation about her vision for breast cancer awareness, her passion to be fearless, and an eye for keeping her merchandise stylish and colorful.
1. How was Keep A Breast foundation developed?
In 2000, I founded The Keep A Breast Foundation after a artist in my community was diagnosed with breast cancer. Not seeing anything that resonated with me or my peers I decided to create an awareness campaign by harnessing the power of art to communicate complex feelings and thoughts about health, the female form and ultimately about breast cancer. I wanted to combine sculpture, philanthropy, and my love for art to raise funds for awareness and prevention of breast cancer.
As a result, I decided that it was my responsibility to create Keep A Breast! The scientific data and reports that exist on breast cancer prevention needs to be translated into normal youth language, make it easy to read, easy to understand, fun, cool, and most importantly empower young people to become activists and take this information into their own life, families, and communities, so they can live a healthy life for years to come, and hopefully cancer free.
2. What are 3 words to describe Keep A Breast foundation?
AWESOME. GROUNDBREAKING. LOVING.
3. What is the main take away from your foundation that you want people to leave with?
KAB has a few mantras. Mantras are words or phrases that inspire a change, and support a belief. 1. Prevention is the Cure 2. Check Your Self and 3. You’re never too young for breast cancer.
- Prevention is the Cure. There is no cure for breast cancer, and we believe that through diet, lifestyle choices and reducing your exposure to toxins you can seriously lower your risk and prevent disease. We want to open people’s eyes to the fact that there are companies and products that are pushing products out there that are known to cause cancer.
- Check Your Self. This all about knowing your body and doing your monthly self breast exams – early detection can save your life. We have so many ways you can learn how – through our iPhone app that gives you a monthly reminder, videos featuring musicians telling you how to Check Your Self or cards you can put in your bathroom or bedroom.
- You’re Never too Young for Cancer. I’ve met many young girls, even in their teens that have been diagnosed with breast cancer, even guys! People in general think breast cancer is a disease for older women and that is simply not true anymore, we are here to break that misconception.
4. How did you come up with the slogan, “I love boobies?”
Many years ago I was designing new tee’s for KAB and I wanted something special to take on our traveling education booth for the summer on the Vans Warped Tour. I wanted a tee shirt that would be a conversation starter, something that would provide support, raise funds, and most importantly to get young people to start to talking about cancer, how it’s impacted their lives and to get the conversation going about prevention. I have always been inspired by the classic I love New York tee shirt; then “I Love Boobies!” was born.
5. What is your background in fashion design?
I was always into fashion as a means of personal expression – I grew up even sewing my own clothes (it was important to me to be unique and different). I studied fashion design and ended up working in the action sports industry designing mostly denim for companies such as D.C Shoes and Sole Technology for many years. I love that I get to channel my creative talents and background into Keep A Breast, using art and clothing to educate and make a difference.
6. Do you also touch on awareness for men getting breast cancer?
Yes! 3 of our 16 employees’ grandfathers have had breast cancer, yet no one talks about it. The truth is that men do get breast cancer (so many are un-informed about this). And beyond that, nearly 70% of all breast cancers are found through self-exams. And with early detection, the 5-year survival rate is 98% – many lumps are found by a woman’s partner. We want to let people know that breast cancer should be a conversation that everyone is having No girl is going to be upset if you tell her that you feel something different in her breast. You could possibly save her life, just by opening up and making breast cancer a non-taboo conversation.
7. How did you select the colors and patterns for the bracelets (Love the many color options!)?
The Original KAB “I Love Boobies!” bracelet colors are our Foundation brand colors. From there I just started to create fun new color ways and packages based on seasons or holidays like; red, white and blue for 4th of July, and Neon for the summer. I try to launch fresh new styles all the time. People shouldn’t only be caring about breast cancer prevention while wearing pink or during the month of October.
8. What makes your breast cancer awareness foundation unique from all others?
EVERYTHING! There is no other breast cancer organization out there like KAB. I started KAB as a true grass roots art movement for breast cancer awareness; young people with a crazy passion for health and prevention. I’m pretty fearless and I’m not afraid to take risks for what I believe in. Our approach is different because we are all about going directly to young people and educating them in their own environment about their cancer risk and how they can prevent disease. I’m truly blessed to do what I do, and I’m so grateful for the team I have around the globe helping to further this cause.
For more information, check out http://www.keep-a-breast.org/