Director of Education & Marketing
In December 2003, five days after turning 34, Heike was diagnosed with breast cancer. Heike was young and active, had three children under two and no family history of breast cancer. She wasn’t in any of the traditional “high-risk” categories and discovered her lump while nursing her daughter. Heike’s experience inspired her to create CanCan so that all women are educated about the importance of breast health. When Heike is not dealing with boobies, Heike spends her time with her three children and husband.
Kayla is the Program Manager for the Rivkin Center and is responsible for overseeing the CanCan education program. Kayla was first introduced to CanCan through her sorority at Washington State University. After graduation, Kayla went on to complete an AmeriCorps Service Year, where she found her passion for the non-profit sector. After witnessing two of her beloved aunts, Peggy and Cathy, fight breast and ovarian cancer with courage and strength, she saw first hand the critical need to educate on ovarian and breast cancer together. As a result, Kayla is extremely dedicated to the mission of the Rivkin Center, Women’s Lives Our Passion, and the focus of the CanCan program, putting women into action over their own health so they are more in control and less in fear of cancer.
Kim has been teaching breast health for over 20 years and has been involved with a lot of the breast health outreach, activities and events both in and out of Washington State. Some of the non-profit companies she has worked closely with either as an employee or volunteer include: CanCan, Evergreen Hospital Community Health Education, American Cancer Society, The Washington State Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Program, the Puget Sound Affiliate Susan G. Komen for The Cure , Citrine Health, and Cancer Lifeline. Kim has been instrumental in developing the breast health education curriculum for CanCan. Her philosophy is “If we can laugh about it we can learn about it”.
Becoming a breast health instructor for CanCan has brought Claudia’s work full circle. Claudia has been a dance movement specialist for over 25 years and teaches a specialized movement and exercise program to breast cancer and other cancer survivors.
Elizabeth, PT, PA-C, BCC, is a certified life coach, wellness educator and community developer. She started her health career in physical therapy, then trained in primary care medicine, surgery and rehabilitation medicine. She now works with teens, young adults, physicians and emerging and established leaders in diverse professions and organizations, with a strong interest in keeping women healthy.
As the Fitness and Wellness Director at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center Vicki’s primary objective is to design wellness programs that address the needs of her community. In 2012 Vicki designed a post operative breast cancer exercise program. As an instructor working with patients every day, Vicki is well aware of the complications derived from breast cancer. Vicki is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine holding 4 certifications – Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer, Exercise is Medicine, Health Fitness Director, and Exercise Physiologist. She is also a certified Breast Cancer Exercise Trainer through the Pink Ribbon Program, and is a Cancan Health Instructor and Survivor for the Rivkin Center.
Sarena Perez is a stage III ovarian cancer survivor who is considered medically “cured” since being cancer free for 5 years. While going through treatment, Sarena started her own support group for women in her area under the age of 40 also fighting cancer. She is a full time student hoping to transfer to UC Berkeley in the spring of 2020 to complete her baccalaureate in psychology. She hopes one day to become a therapist who serves the AYA cancer population. Sarena is passionate about educating women about their cancer risk and in her free time enjoys traveling the world and hanging out with her long-haired dachshund, Pierre. Sarena is based out of Oakland, CA.
Lauren is the CanCan health educator in the sunny, bustling Los Angeles area. Lauren is a proud ‘Triple Bruin’ finishing her UCLA undergraduate career in 2012 and currently pursuing her Masters in Public Health and Masters in Social Welfare at UCLA. While a CanCan student ambassador in 2015, Lauren was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and used the CanCan tools to be a self-advocate for her own body. Lauren is ecstatic to empower LA communities to advocate for their health and to promote early detection of breast and ovarian cancer, aka the lady cancers.
Ovarian and Breast Cancer Survivor Facilitators
Kristin, a BRCA1 mutation carrier, was diagnosed with aggressive triple negative breast cancer just one week after her 28th birthday. Fortunately, Kristin’s case was caught very early, and a treatment regimen of chemotherapy and surgery left her disease free. Kristin merged her graduate education in immunology with her passion for advancing cancer therapy and now works at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to develop immunotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer patients. She joined the CanCan team to raise awareness about the value of early detection and to empower others to be confident self-advocates with respect to healthcare.
Lynn has been an educator for 30 years serving students with learning disabilities and disorders as well as involved with student leadership on the local and state levels. In February 2015, Lynn was diagnosed with Stage III Ovarian Cancer. Just months into treatment, Lynn made the decision to seek out a program to combine both her teaching and leadership skills where she could provide other women with the tools to recognize the signs and symptoms she missed. Through the Rivkin Center, she was introduced to CanCan and is on her way to live her favorite quote, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.” Maya Angelou
Michelle was diagnosed with stage 0 (ductal carcinoma in situ) breast cancer at the age of 37. Her breast cancer was detected through early mammogram screening, which she advocated for because of her family history. Her great aunt passed away from breast cancer and her mother is also a breast cancer survivor. Michelle is grateful that early detection saved her life and she hopes that her story will help other women know the importance of their family history and take a proactive approach to their healthcare.
Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27. Her research focus has always been HIV, but after her diagnosis, she was fortunate to find a job working in breast cancer research at Cancer Prevention Institute of California. Working with CanCan seemed like a natural fit since she found her malignant lump while doing a self-breast examination. Fortunately, her mother suggested she consult the doctor who diagnosed her with Stage 1 breast cancer.
Emily was breastfeeding her five-month-old daughter for the last time; two hours later she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 32. Emily, a BRCA1 gene carrier, finished her treatment in 2007, and gives back through CanCan and The SCAR Project, which she is featured in. You can learn more at www.scarproject.org. Emily feels empowered by working to educate others about the risks of breast cancer and to bring awareness about the realities of the disease.
Katrina is an eight-year, three-time survivor of breast cancer. Her mother and aunt had breast cancer, her sister is a four-year survivor and a cousin has been in ongoing treatment for the past three years. She is the mother of four children (two biological and two adopted). She taught herself how to work, repair and build computers in the early 70’s and ran a computer lab for a non-profit for many years. She is a peer counselor for other breast cancer survivors. And like the hurricane she loves being forceful in telling women to get their mammograms.
Michelle is a breast cancer survivor of five years. She found her cancer at age 44 through mammography, and luckily, it was still in 0 stage. She received a lumpectomy and eight weeks of radiation and became a yoga and mat Pilates instructor.
When Jeanna turned 40 she was determined to walk her first Susan G. Komen 60 mile 3day in honor of her Grandmother who passed away from breast cancer. Within 2 weeks of completing the walk, during a self-exam she found that something didn’t feel “right” in her left breast. At her annual doctor appointment, her doctor felt the lump that she was feeling and sent her right away for a mammogram which was immediately followed by a biopsy. On Halloween, 2012 while in the middle of a 3rd grade class party for one of her sons, she got the call that no one ever wants to get ~ the biopsy came back positive for breast cancer. Luckily it was found early enough for her to be a candidate for a lumpectomy and with her negative BRCA testing and low scoring “oncotype” testing, she escaped the devastation of chemotherapy. She completed 8 weeks of radiation and is now receiving hormone therapy. She has since been very vocal in her local community, especially within her boys’ schools (now ages 10 & 13) sharing how imperative early detection is and urging women to have their mammograms AND to do regular self breast exams. She’s excited and grateful to be a part of CanCan, inspired to spread the word about early detection and to empower women with valuable, life-saving information.
Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer at 41. She is a mother of two beautiful boys, ages 6 and 2. After nursing her oldest for almost three years, she was surprised by the problems she had nursing Chase his first 6 months. In January of 2008, when Chase was six months old, she found her lump while rubbing out recurrent plugged milk ducts. After weeks of research and a crash course in cancer study, Heather was happy to learn that while her cancer was invasive, it was slow growing and non-aggressive in form. She had a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy. The support that came pouring in during her cancer journey has fueled her to give back as often as she can. She’s walked the Komen 3-Day walk, loving her time with CanCan and enjoying all the playful adventures that two young boys bring to her life.
Kristin House was diagnosed with Stage 2+ breast cancer 2 months after her 38th birthday. At that time she was a single parent of nine-year-old Henry. She had a long, rigorous course of treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and breast reconstruction.
During her early her treatments, Kristin said she would ‘kick cancer to the curb’ and she did. Now seven+ years past her diagnosis and treatment, she is healthy and active. She works as a Paralegal, has her own small clothing design business and is raising a teenager!
Kristin works with CanCan to educate and inspire, to dispel the myth and fears about breast cancer and, most importantly, to support women of all ages to know their bodies, be their own best advocates in all ways, including healthcare and finding life balance.
Julie was diagnosed with breast cancer two months after her 40th birthday. By the time her cancer was found, it had already spread to her bones so she was diagnosed initially at Stage IV. Despite that diagnosis, Julie decided to fight the cancer with everything possible and take an aggressive course of treatment including chemo, surgery, radiation and hormone therapy. Six years later, Julie is now cancer-free, though continuing to take treatments to reduce any future risk of reoccurrence. Giving back and helping other women with information is one small way to repay the universe for all of the incredible gifts she feels lucky to have received.
Nancy was 35 years old and the mom of two boys, ages 5 and 6 ½, when she was diagnosed in December of 2007 after finding her own lumps. With a common but more aggressive form of breast cancer she underwent several months of treatments including chemo, mastectomy and radiation, and like many women, had no family history. Her goal is to educate others on breast cancer health and remind everyone to enjoy life and appreciate its treasures.
Stacy is a Bay Area native and health education advocate. In her 27- year career, she’s worked as a communicable disease intervention specialist, wellness coach, and now as a training coordinator for homecare providers. Her mother lost her battle with breast cancer at age 48. Starting at age 30, Stacy began annual mammograms and hoped to make it to her 50th birthday, breast cancer-free. However, in 2012, at age 49, Stacy was diagnosed by “routine” mammogram and lumpectomy with Stage O breast cancer. Fueled by her mother’s legacy and with the support of family, friends, and an amazing medical team, she chose to undergo BRACA testing, bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. Stacy believes every person’s journey is their own. Her mantra, “knowledge is power” inspires her to educate and support others to know their options making their health decisions with information, confidence and grace.
In 2008, Ilyse attended a CanCan party and began performing monthly self- exams. Three years later, at age 41, despite having no family history, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She continued to work full time at Microsoft, raise three children, and run a half marathon while undergoing a unilateral mastectomy, six months of chemotherapy and three reconstructive surgeries. She credits her current good health to early detection, and wants to educate other women so that they can have the opportunity for the same successful outcome.
Gail Fay is a freelance editor/writer as well as a reader, exerciser, nature lover, photographer dabbler, sports fanatic, dog person, and two-time ovarian cancer survivor. After a life-changing week at an Epic Experience camp for adult cancer survivors, Gail decided to start giving back in the cancer community. She’s now an Epic Experience volunteer, both at the adventure camps and as the wordsmith of all things written. In October 2017, Gail joined the CanCan team as a facilitator at UCLA, her alma mater.
Sachia Stonefeld Powell
In 2011, Sachia was looking for a 5K to race as motivation to keep running; she had no family history of cancer or connection to the Rivkin Center. She found the Swedish SummeRun and has captained a team ever since. Six years after her first SummeRun, her gynecologist felt a mass during a routine gynecological exam. She had no symptoms other than minor bloating and dull low back pain. Following an ultrasound, CT scan, and hysterectomy, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, stage IIA. In July 2017—three weeks after her last chemotherapy treatment—Sachia walked the SummeRun, still team captain of Team MidCentury Modern. She is motivated to spread the word that cancer doesn’t just happen to “other people,” and that regular medical screenings can save your life.
University of Oregon
Morgan is a junior at the University of Oregon. She is majoring in Journalism with a focus in Public Relations and minoring in Business. She is originally from Seattle and had her aunt, one of her best friend’s mother and a former nanny all diagnosed with breast cancer within 2 weeks of each other, making this a very important and personal cause. She loves hiking and exploring all the outdoor spaces Eugene has to offer when she is not re-watching How I Met Your Mother for the fourth time or searching for the world’s best eggs Benedict.
UCLA University of California, Berkeley
University of Washington
Gabby is a Junior at UW studying Public Health. Gabby heard of The Rivkin Center her freshman year after her sorority had a CanCan party, and she enjoyed how easy and fun it was to learn about her body and women’s health! Gabby applied to be a Campus Ambassador because she is working towards a career in the healthcare field and believes that education is crucial to bettering people’s lives. This year she am looking forward to attending all the CanCan parties that she coordinate so that she can see the work she has in and watch how an event like so can educate and positively impact college students at UW.
University of Arizona
Jessie is currently a junior at the University of Arizona. She is majoring in Public Health and Minoring in Special Education with an Emphasis in Deaf Studies. Jessie first heard about CanCan while attending a party on campus. Having grown up in a family where cancer was rarely talked about, she immediately fell in love with CanCan’s mission. Jessie truly believes that knowledge is the best preventative measure. She looks forward to educating a diverse audience at the University of Arizona on the importance of prevention and early detection through self-advocacy and awareness. In her free time, Jessie enjoys working out, traveling and watching Netflix.
Larissa is a third year Biology major and Global Health minor. She is interested in pursuing a career in women’s health which is why the CanCan program really interested her. She had never been apart of something like the CanCan program before but the mission really resonated with her desire to spread self-advocacy. She is excited about having the opportunity to not only spread knowledge and awareness on campus but to also empower other women.
Arizona State University
Rainey Horwitz is a Senior student in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU majoring in Biology and Society. She a pre-med student (recently look her MCATS) that is involved in on campus women’s reproductive health historical research with The Embryo Project. She is a Kappa Alpha Theta member and will be graduating in May 2018! Rainy loves how the Cancan educators make complicated and intimidating medical concepts extremely accessible to all audiences! Cancan has given her the opportunity to spread awareness of reproductive health issues in her community, something that she hopes she can continue into her future career!
University of Utah
Sarah is a sophomore at the University of Utah. She is pursuing a degree in Nursing and a minor in Pediatric Clinical Research. Sarah has always been passionate about women’s health, especially because of her experiences with cancer and how it has affected many of her family and friends’ lives. Sarah is very involved on campus and in the community and saw CanCan as the perfect opportunity to reach out and make sure women know how to live their healthiest and happiest lives.
Isabella Shahmirza, commonly known as Izzy, is a third year at UCLA studying Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology, with a Minor in Spanish. Izzy is extremely passionate about the Oncology field, initially being inspired by her mom who is an Oncology nurse. Izzy is super excited to be one of the CanCan Ambassadors for UCLA; seeing a cancer-free world motivated her to become an Ambassador. She knows that education is a key factor to bring awareness to a disease that affects too many people! She wants to educate women and men, as well as get educated herself, about Ovarian and Breast Cancer to hopefully decrease the number of those diagnosed and to motivate others to take their health into their own hands. Izzy loves to spend time with her family and friends, as well as her dog Toby, play sports, especially basketball, explore the outdoors, and she loves to smile:)
Washington State University
Bella is a junior at Washington State University majoring in Biology with a minor in Psychology. This past year breast cancer greatly impacted her family when her grandfather was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer which motivated Bella to become an advocate in taking care of one’s own health. She is looking forward to working as an ambassador this year to educate her fellow Cougs on breast cancer awareness and provide them with the education to support their health. Whenever Bella isn’t working or studying she enjoys camping and surrounding herself with friends and family.
University of Utah
Paige is a sophomore at the University of Utah studying Business Management with a minor in anthropology. Paige is from Southern California and is from a big family. She enjoys snowboarding, kickboxing, surfing, and yoga. She is in the Women in Business Club and Pi Beta Phi sorority. She has a passion for women’s and children’s health and has spent time volunteering with special olympics to Feed the Streets to WeCare (a shelter for single mothers to take their children to with an emphasis on making sure the children can still get up and get ready for school the next day). Paige was drawn to CanCan because although not personally affected by cancer she has had family members and close friends that have survived, been diagnosed, or been lost to breast cancer. So when she saw this position, it was something that hit too close to home to not apply. Paige couldn’t be more excited to combine her passion for women’s health and education into one and help women in Salt Lake become more informed about their bodies.
Arizona State University
Pnina is a Sophomore at Arizona State University, pursuing a degree in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and aspires to attend medical School. She heard about CanCan through her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta. Her passion for women empowerment was her drive for getting involved with CanCan and remains to be the drive for her ambitions in everyday life. She is a strong believer that women deserve to be respected and heard in every aspect of life, especially healthcare. She is very excited to be part of the team and raise awareness on the ASU campus.