Founder & Executive Director
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.
Breast Health Educators
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”.
Mara is a two-time breast cancer survivor. Her first diagnosis, at 36 years old, led her to have a bi-lateral mastectomy and immediate reconstruction. Two years later, 14 weeks pregnant with her son, Mara discovered, through a breast self-exam, an 8mm tumor under her armpit. She and her son Ari went through breast cancer treatment together. He was born on her 39th birthday—what a gift! She believes in educating and empowering others about their health and breast self- exams. Mara’s favorite quote is from a friend, “I may have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me.”
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 target prevention by designing wellness programs that address the needs of her community. One such program is the Pink Ribbon Program, which addresses the needs of post-operative breast cancer patients. Vicki’s background is in medical fitness, club management and exercise science. She is certified through the American College of Sports Medicine as a Health Fitness Specialist and Health/Fitness Director, as well as being a breast cancer exercise specialist through the Pink Ribbon Program.
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.
Breast Cancer Survivor Facilitators
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.
In October of 2007, the month of her 32nd birthday, Debra was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her grandmother on her father’s side passed away from ovarian cancer. She carries the gene called BRCA 1 which makes her more likely to get ovarian cancer down the road. She continues to get ultrasounds on her ovaries. Debra found her own lump and started treatment right away with a double mastectomy and chemo. She is inspired to share her story with other women to help with early detection. When she isn’t giving talks on breast cancer, she spends her time painting, designing jewelry and clothing.
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.
Jamaica Baldwin was 37-years-old and living in Manhattan with a great job and great friends when she was diagnosed with stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. The news came as quite a shock seeing as there was no history of breast cancer in her family. She was also the first among her friends to have breast cancer, which led to a very isolating experience even with all the support that came her way. She eventually moved back to Seattle to be closer to family and finish her treatment. Although she wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone, she is grateful for the doors it has opened for her, or perhaps, she says, the doors were always open, she’s just now finally able to see them. Jamaica is proud to be working with CanCan and grateful for the opportunity to help young women connect with their bodies and be proactive in their own health. In addition to CanCan, Jamaica works part time as Program Manager for Team Survivor Northwest, a non-profit organization that provides fitness programs for women survivors of cancer, and is an MFA candidate in Poetry at Pacific University, Oregon.
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 is a two-time breast cancer survivor. First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, at the age of 30, she was inspired to take control of her health. To that end she did her first triathlon two days after her hair fell out. For 13 years she was in remission during which she continued to do triathlons and completed two Ironman distance triathlons. In October of 2011, Kristin found another lump, again during a self-exam, even though she had a clean mammogram four weeks earlier. After a mastectomy and chemotherapy, Kristin has a renewed dedication to empowering women to take control of their breast health through education and awareness.
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.
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.
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.
Tanya was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 39 in 2005. She was the first in her family and was very surprised considering she had three children, breast fed, didn’t drink or smoke and was in otherwise excellent health. Tanya’s breast cancer treatment included eight rounds of chemo and five surgeries, in 13 months. She was determined not to be interrupted in her world and because of a wonderful community of family and friends she wasn’t. Her experience was life-changing but not sad, bitter or fearful and she went on to be even healthier than before. Tanya got involved with CanCan because she wanted to help get good information out to all women. She started facilitating classes even before her treatment was over.
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.
In 2009, Marcy participated in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer as a way of honoring her mother who passed away from Ovarian Cancer at the age of 65. It was at that event that she felt a fake lump in a fake, rubber breast. Three years later, after a routine mammogram, she was diagnosed with Stage Zero DCIS. She had a lumpectomy with radiation. Six months after completing radiation, she found a lump in her other breast. Upon learning it was Stage 2 invasive breast cancer, she decided to undergo a bilateral mastectomy. She recovered quickly and credits her good health to early detection and excellent health care. Her goal is to educate other women of the importance of knowing their own bodies and being their own medical advocates.
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.
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.
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.
Melanie is a third year psychobiology major and neuroscience minor at UCLA, and is so excited to be able to work with women to promote self advocacy and the importance of early detection. Her favorite book is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, and she firmly believes that “the Office” is the greatest show of all time.
University of Washington
Katie is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree of Psychology and Public Health at the University of Washington in Seattle. From a young age Katie has had a passionate interest in personal health and wellness. After hearing about Check Your Boobies from its incredible founder, Heike, and having several close family friends fight through breast cancer, Katie decided to get more involved with the organization. Katie is excited to help educate individuals in her community on the importance of regular self-examinations, early detection and self-advocacy for their personal health. Katie enjoys actively exploring the outdoors, eating good food, and spending time with loved ones as much as she can.
University of Oregon
Madison is a second year journalism major and sociology minor at University of Oregon. She looks forward to working with all different kinds of clubs and organizations on campus to help spread awareness of breast cancer and help educate students on early detection. She loves being active outdoors and her guilty pleasures are binge watching Greys Anatomy and mac n cheese.
University of Oregon
Kaileigh is a sophomore at the University of Oregon, where she plans to major in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing and a minor in German. In her free time she enjoys riding horses, spending time with friends, and playing with her black lab, Annie. Her grandmother is a stage four uterine cancer survivor and she looks forward to the opportunity to spread awareness to such an important cause.
Oregon State University
Sangari is originally from Singapore and is a current junior at Oregon State University, studying Sociology with minors in Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies and Leadership. She was first introduced to CanCan at her campus career fair and immediately fell in love with CanCan’s mission statement. Her close relatives were affected by breast cancer and she has witnessed first-hand the benefit of health awareness and education. She firmly believes that education is the biggest tool of empowerment. She is so excited to be a part of the CanCan team and can’t wait to be involved in engaging women to take a more active role about their own health! Aside from studying in Oregon, Sangari loves to explore. She lives for traveling both locally and internationally!
Madison is a third year at UCLA majoring in Economics and Communications. She first learned about CanCan through a Check Your Boobies party in high school, but became really passionate about the cause when her Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer right before she left for college. Madison cannot wait to educate women on the importance of early detection, prevention, and “knowing your normal.” The only thing she loves more than being a CanCan Ambassador is ice cream!
Ester is a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley pursuing an undergraduate degree in Public Health Pre-med and double minoring in Global Poverty and Practice and Public Policy. As a freshman, Ester became a Health Worker for her residence hall where she prepared weekly Health Tips about pertinent college health issues, offered individual advising, resources, and referrals as a knowledgeable, and non- judgmental peer. This inspired Ester to stay involved in educating, and stimulating awareness and action within her community – which led her to join the CanCan Team! As an ambassador for her university, Ester is excited to work with a program that empowers women from diverse backgrounds and teaches them tools to maintain good health, all while doing so compassionately, and vivaciously. Go Bears!
Washington State University
Rachel Sheridan is in her 3rd year at Washington State University studying Strategic Communication and Public Relations. In her spare time she loves to keep active, practice yoga, and spend time with her family. Rachel wanted to be an ambassador because of her interest in health and fitness and is really looking forward to educating women in her community about breast cancer in a fun way. Go cougs!