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Q&A with Shaney Jo Darden, Founder of Keep A Breast

Whether its their breast self-check mobile app or trendy hashtags, Keep A Breast Foundation proves itself to be an innovative organization that keeps youth informed and active in leading a preventative lifestyle. Through our long-time partnership with the amazing Keep A Breast Foundation, we've learned about the importance of exercise, limiting toxin exposure, and performing regular self-checks in order to prevent breast cancer.

But, breast cancer prevention is an immense and constantly expanding subject, so we recently caught up with Shaney Jo Darden (founder of Keep A Breast Foundation) to answer some of our questions about what keeps a foundation like this relevant for youth, what breast cancer foundations do when October ends, and what nontoxic brands should we keep on our radar. We were fortunate to have all these questions answered – and more!

Q: Keep A Breast Foundation really seems to be centered around youth. Why is that? 

A: The Keep A Breast Foundation was founded in response to the growing need for breast cancer awareness programs that focus on educating young people.

My friends were being diagnosed in their 20s, and 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. I use art and artistic expression to inform young people about methods of prevention, early detection and support.

Through our programs, Keep A Breast exists to change the global conversation around breast cancer among young people by empowering them with breast health education, which we hope will ultimately inspire them to adopt healthier habits.

Q: Why “prevention” and not awareness?

A: I found that awareness was not enough. Through my early involvement in breast cancer outreach, I soon realized that no one was truly reaching young people with breast cancer education and support. Existing organizations were not operating at the cultural level of teens and twenty-somethings. In response, I developed a series of educational programs that attempted to reach youth “in their comfort zones.” This was the basis of Keep A Breast’s interactive teaching efforts such as our Travelling Education Booth and Check Yourself! breast self-check cards. With this, KAB was born.

KAB demonstrates a new nonprofit model, one that assumes that today’s young people are articulate, critical and ready to establish their identities through meaningful action. They are ready to be engaged and educated and we are so honored to be the ones to spread awareness to them.

  • Read about Keep A Breast’s story here.

Q: What inspired the Non-Toxic Revolution campaign?

A: When I realized that breast cancer diagnosis was only 10 percent genetic and 90 percent our environment, I knew there was an even bigger conversation that need to be had. I started Non-Toxic Revolution to start a direct dialogue about the food we eat, the products we use and the toxins we are exposed to that really increase our risk of breast cancer and many other disease.

Q: What are some key toxic products and chemicals that young adults should be avoiding?

Back in 2012, one of our grant recipients,  Environmental Working Group teamed up with Keep-A-Breast to compile an alarming list of endocrine disruptors that deviously make their way into our bodies. The Dirty Dozen List of Endocrine Disruptors takes a look at 12 of the worst hormone altering chemicals found in our everyday lives, including BPA, dioxin, atrazine, phthalates, perchlorate, fire retardants, lead, arsenic, mercury, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), organophosphate pesticides, and glycol ethers. Learn more about how they do their dirty deeds and some tips on how to avoid them.

Q: Could you name a few nontoxic lifestyle brands for those who are trying to detoxify their lives?

Body care: Bare Bones Body Care, Primal Life Organics, SW Basics, Schmidt’s Deodorant. Cleaning: Boulder Clean, Seventh Generation. Life: Simply Straws, CHICOBAG (plastic free)

Q: What would you say Keep A Breast Foundation has brought to your own personal life?

Grace. Love. Purpose.

I come from a design background and career. This path I am on with Keep A Breast has been an incredible journey and gift. It has taught me an incredible amount of grace. You never know what someone is going through or how they feel, even if you have been in their shoes, everyone is unique and everyone deserves kindness and to been seen.

I believe that at any moment the person I am talking to could be God, looking me right in the face, so I better give that person love and respect. And every little bit of love I give comes back! It feels good; it feels super special to be loved around the world. I breathe and take that all in as much as I can.

I truly feel like KAB has brought purpose to my life. I get to use my creativity and natural gifts to help others.

Q: Finally, October must be a busy month for you all, but what does Keep-A-Breast do throughout the year to prevent breast cancer globally? 

 A: Breast cancer prevention is a life style and is with us all year long. We travel on the Vans Warped Tour and various events throughout the year educating young people on the importance of checking yourself and knowing your normal, create prevention tips throughout the year online, send Treasured Chest kits so survivors can cast themselves and express their experience through art, and find the best ways to live non toxic in our daily lives.

Our passion is for young people to incorporate health, wellness, self-checks, and awareness to lower their risk of breast cancer for years to come. Read more about Keep A Breast’s work here.

Shaney Jo Darden is founder and chief creative officer at Keep A Breast Foundation. After a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, designer and artist Shaney Jo Darden founded the global non-profit organization Keep A Breast Foundation (KAB) to raise awareness of breast cancer and to encourage prevention and early detection among young people. Shaney Jo is a leading voice and philanthropy expert in the cultural conversation about breast cancer. Over the years she has received many awards for her innovative fusion of advocacy, art, lifestyle-brand partnerships and street culture, and in the process has generated substantial funds for Keep A Breast via donations, partnerships, and licensing.