In December 2003, five days after turning thirty-four, 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 Check Your Boobies so that all women are educated about the importance of breast health. When Heike is not dealing with boobies, Heike spends most of her time with her three children and husband.
Jamie is the mother of two boys and works as a commercial real estate property manager. After graduating from college, she spent three years at the American Cancer Society running the South King County chapter and promoting breast health for all women. Her mother is a breast cancer survivor and has been cancer free for almost 45 years. She has been an inspiration for Jamie and the two of them are very active with the Swedish Breast Health Center. Jamie enjoys spending time with her family, running, yoga and playing tennis.
Sandi was diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the age of 44. After going through cancer treatment and many related surgeries, she is enjoying a very healthy, active life. She knew the importance of sharing her experience with other women and willingly became involved early on. Sandi will tell you, “knowledge is power, and breast health information is really lacking out there in the community. The idea to give women a safe, comfortable forum where they can learn and ask questions is so important and can truly save lives with early detection. Being a part of this growing and very important organization has been one of the many blessings I have received since my diagnosis.” Sandi has been married to Bob for 14 years and they have a daughter, Jenny, together. She is also a proud step mom to Adam and Julie. She is active in her kids’ lives, likes to stay fit with Pilates and cycling, and enjoys the many outdoor activities the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
Josh Furman works in the non-profit world, and loves working with young adults. He believes that all young men and women should be empowered and educated, and as an active member and volunteer for many Jewish organizations he is also very aware of the increased risk of breast cancer for the Jewish community. Josh lives with his partner in West Seattle, and enjoys pottery, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.
Michi Suzuki is VP of Communications for Creativello, a strategic, creative and communications agency with offices in Seattle and Ulder, CO. Creativello has worked with such clients as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ball Corporation, Comcast Corporate, the British Council, and Field Roast. Prior to joining Creativello, Michi was founder and principal of Suzuki + Chou Communimedia and Suzuki Public Relations – PR agencies with a focus in the hospitality and consumer industries. Suzuki made a name for herself in the Seattle hospitality industry over the past decade, developing communications strategies for clients like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Collections Cafe at Chihuly Garden & Glass, Marination Mobile, SODO Kitchen, Numi Organic Tea, the Sorrento Hotel, Grand Central Bakery, and Pagliacci Pizza, to name a few. Michi knows how to grow business and inspire audiences to participate in new experiences. She has secured significant press coverage for her clients, including but not limited to The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Time Magazine, O Magazine, Forbes, Fortune, Fast Company, The Today Show, CNBC, FOX News, and NPR. She also spearheaded “Red, White, Unite” – a Japanese Relief Fund where she organized 50 Seattle-based restaurants to participate and donate 10% of revenues to aid victims of the earthquake in Japan. Michi served on the Board of Directors for Susan G. Komen for the Cure Puget Sound Affiliate. She spearheaded two grassroots fundraisers that raised over $170K and was one of the top 100 Seattle fundraisers for Susan G. Komen for the Cure for three consecutive years. Recently, she repeatedly exceeded fundraising goals for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. From Michi, a 4-year breast cancer survivor: I believe in Heike and her mission to educate young women on early detection. Early detection is key! Together, we can all make a difference! I am committed, passionate, driven, determined and not-afraid-to-ask for anything. I am excited to bring my energy, passion, and drive to Check Your Boobies.
Kristin Anderson is a 17 year veteran of the Microsoft Corporation where she has held a variety of HR leadership roles. She joined the board of CYB in 2007 shortly after her nephew Matthew was diagnosed with Ph+ ALL Leukemia. When Matthew lost his three-year battle with leukemia Kristin participated in her first Avon Walk for Breast Cancer – both experiences were life changing! Kristin considers it a privilege to serve on the board and is committed to the education of women (and men) about breast health, breast cancer prevention and early detection.
Katherine has dedicated her career to raising awareness of major healthcare issues, working with companies to partner with physicians and patient advocates who are mutually focused on a single goal: helping patients become empowered and live longer and live better lives. While she has been passionate about her career, her commitment to making a difference in the war on cancer is a personal one. “I’m proud to be involved with Check Your Boobies as we work to energize and empower young women in the fight against cancer. The work we’re doing, particularly as we expand the organization nationally is in dedication to the many strong women who I know and admire and have been impacted by cancer – in the past, present, and future.” She is originally from Chicago, lived in San Francisco, and now calls Seattle her home. Katherine loves to travel, run, practice yoga, and play with her miniature labradoodle.
Kayla Driscoll is our Program Manager. Kayla was first introduced to Check Your Boobies while in college at Washington State University, as a member of her sorority. Kayla and her sorority partnered with Check Your Boobies to raise awareness for breast cancer on the WSU campus. After graduating from WSU, Kayla joined AmeriCorps, where she spent one year serving the community at a non-profit children’s and family center. Upon completion of AmeriCorps, Kayla felt compelled to continue working within the non-profit sector. Check Your Boobies proved to be the ideal place to do so, as she has a personal connection to breast cancer after watching her Aunt Peggy fight cancer with courage and strength, but ultimately losing her battle to an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer at the age of 53. As a result, Kayla is honored to be a part of an organization that is dedicated to educating women on breast health and empowering individuals to be proactive about their health.
Kim has been teaching breast health for over 15 years. Kim has been instrumental in developing the breast health education curriculum for Check Your Boobies. She has worked for Positive Women’s Network, a nonprofit organization serving the health needs of underserved women in the Puget Sound Area and running the Breast and Cervical Program. Currently she works as an instructor at Cancer Lifeline for Lymphedema Management.
Becoming a breast health instructor for Check Your Boobies has brought Claudia’s work full circle. Claudia has been a dance movement specialist for over 25 years. Her primary focus since 2001 has been on teaching a specialized movement and exercise program to breast cancer and other cancer survivors. That program has an enormous emphasis on education. Claudia has also been teaching pain management, stress management, and meditation techniques to individuals for over 15 years. To reach women before-the-fact, empowering all ages and backgrounds with the important tool of knowledge regarding breast cancer prevention and early detection has been the peak of her experience and work.
Elizabeth Crouch, PT, PA-C, BCC, is a certified life coach, wellness educator and community developer. She started her health careers in physical therapy then trained in primary care medicine, surgery and rehabilitation medicine. After 25 years of experience developing client-focused, team medicine models to deliver healthcare services, she began using coaching skills and models to enhance and improve client-family-healthcare provider interactions. She now works with teens, young adults, physicians, emerging and established leaders in diverse professions and organizations, with a strong interest in keeping women healthy, improving their physical fitness and enhancing inter-generational collaborations. Elizabeth is deeply committed to helping women of all ages with health education & resources, advocacy and action. As a Breast Health Instructor with Check Your Boobies, she continues that work!
Kristi Waldal has been a Registered Nurse since 1990, most recently working in Women’s Health for the past 10 years. Her mom’s experience with breast cancer, as well as her love for teaching, has inspired her to be an advocate for early detection. In March 2012 she became certified as a Clinical Breast Examiner. Kristi enjoys spending time with her husband and their two children, as well as baking, exercising, camping and being active in her children’s activities. She is very excited to be part of the Check Your Boobies team.
Mara is a two time breast cancer survivor. Her first diagnosis, at 36 years old, was DCIS leading her to have a bi-lateral mastectomy and immediate reconstruction. A boob job and a tummy tuck, as she likes to call it. 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! Today Mara is the Bay Area Director for Check Your Boobies. 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’. She resides in San Mateo with her husband David Langer, and their two young children, Malia and Ari.
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 in Health Fitness Specialist, and Health Fitness Director, as well as being a Breast Cancer Exercise Specialist through the Pink Ribbon Program. A close friend of Vicki’s is a breast cancer survivor, and with Vicki’s exercise science background, she wanted to do something that specifically addressed the needs of women in our area. CYB is a perfect way to reach out and educate the community. Her hobbies include skiing, biking, backpacking, kayaking, tennis, golf, cooking, reading and sculpting.
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 3 children, breast fed, didn’t drink or smoke and was in otherwise excellent health. Throughout 18 months of breast cancer treatment she always marveled at the notes in her chart “patient is in excellent health”. Tanya’s breast cancer treatment included 8 rounds of chemo and 5 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 goes on to be even healthier than before. She started running/walking half marathons in 2007 and will do one for each year that passes. As of 2012 she has completed 8 and is pleased with her goals. Tanya got involved with CYB because she wanted to help get good information out to all women even those under 40 or 30 or 20. She started facilitating classes even before her treatment was over. So, with a bald head and bright pink cast over a broken wrist (caused by weak bones & chemo) she started learning and sharing as much as possible about breast health and many other things from the women she encountered along the way. In Tanya’s personal life she also volunteers in her children’s three schools. Tanya also has a small art business where she teaches art in several local elementary schools in addition to selling some of her work in local Garden shows. She also stays busy with a family of five and all their activities. She and her family are native and live in Issaquah.
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.
Heather was diagnosed with breast cancer at 41. She is a mother of two beautiful boys, age 6 and 2 years old. After nursing her oldest for almost 3 years, she was surprised by the problems she had nursing Chase his first 6 months. In January of 2008, when Chase was 6 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 Check Your Boobies, and enjoying all the playful adventures that 2 young boys bring to her life.
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 diagnosis confirmed a lot of things for her, so now her goal is to educate others on breast cancer health and remind everyone to enjoy life and appreciate its treasures. She feels blessed to have met so many amazing people through this experience and sees every day as a gift because cancer doesn’t define you. Nancy looks forward to making each day count by enjoying time with her family and friends and finding whatever life has to offer. The possibilities are endless.
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. 6 years later, Julie is now cancer-free, though continuing to take treatments to reduce any future risk of re-occurrence. She has been blessed with great doctors and medical care, surrounded by an incredible community of friends and family, and counts her blessings regularly. 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.
2 years ago, Helen was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27. She was living and working in China at the time so her life totally changed and she relocated back to northern California to undergo treatment. 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. It was there that she got exposure to all the research and different work around cancer that was going on. Working with CYB 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. When Helen is not at doctor’s offices or doing research, she enjoys going to music shows, playing basketball and guitar, and finding tasty restaurants to eat at.
Emily Kaplan was breastfeeding her 5-month-old daughter for the last time; two hours later she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 32, in December 2006. Emily finished her treatment in 2007 and with her status as a BRCA1 gene carrier. She remains involved with awareness as a member of Check Your Boobies (CYB), 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. Born and raised in Connecticut, Emily moved to Northern California in 1998 to learn more about wine and further her experience in restaurant management. Some years later she met her husband Gabe and moved to Berkeley, where they are currently raising their son and daughter. She works in beverage and food sales, a business she began in the summer of 2011. She continues playing competitive soccer and running to keep fit so she can enjoy her other hobby of eating. Emily wants to thank her husband Gabe and her family as they played such an integral role in her physical and emotional recovery.
In July of 2011, Mimi was diagnosed with Stage 1 infiltrating ductal breast cancer. This came as a complete surprise as she had no family history of the disease. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation, and is now almost back to her previous level of energy. Her journey has been hard and uplifting simultaneously, and she will be forever grateful for the outpouring of love and support she received. She is the mother of a daughter who is a new college graduate and a son about to enter 6th grade. Her husband is a rabbi at a local congregation. Professionally, Mimi is a social worker and coordinates the special needs program for Jewish Family and Children’s Services in Palo Alto and San Mateo California. She feel privileged to be part of the Check your Boobies family and is delighted to be able to share her story and educate others in a supportive, proactive way.
Julie Duffié has three young sons and is a CPA. She is very aware of the importance of early breast cancer detection based on her own family history. Her grandmother was diagnosed when she was 48, and her great grandmother died from the disease at the age of 56. Julie enjoys spending time with her husband and children, snow skiing, watching movies and volunteering with her church and children’s schools.
Connie is a recent graduate of the University of Washington, where she earned double degrees in Medical Anthropology and Biology. Years ago, her mother had a brush with a breast cancer scare when her doctor found a lump. They passed by the disease that is often heard about, but rarely spoken of. Her grandfather’s liver cancer was what brought her face to face with cancer again. As if by fate, there was an opportunity to start a campus education and awareness group on hepatitis B called Team HBV. She seized it and for the next two years, grasped what entails teaching a group of people about their bodies and hepatitis B in an effective and culturally sensitive manner. Leading Team HBV was a wonderful learning experience and propelled her to continue devoting her time in the non-profit health education sector. She believes community health education is so important and its effects are evident in a patient who visits a doctor without preconceived myths or heightened fear of a disease, and sound knowledge of one’s body. Connie joined CYB to follow her interest in women’s reproductive health and continue interacting with her community. When she’s not volunteering or studying for her upcoming MCAT exam, she is seeking out new cafes, shadowing physicians, or catching up on her favorite food blogs. So far, she’s been having a great time at the CYB parties, meeting fantastic educators and cancer survivors. She looks forward to contributing to CYB’s growth to the best of her abilities.
When Charyn was 17-years old, her mother was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer. After a brief half-year battle, her mother succumbed to the disease at the age of 38. Charyn moved to San Francisco in 2000 and wanted to give something back to women facing cancer, their friends and family members. Charyn connected with the Women’s Cancer Resource Center (WCRC) in Berkeley and assisted with the annual fundraising event and staffed the Information and Referral Helpline every Wednesday for nearly four years. Week after week, women called with questions about breast cancer, so she decided to write a book to address these questions. She teamed up with Lillie Shockney, Director of Education and Outreach at Johns Hopkins Breast Center and Beverly Burns, Clinical Director of The Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic to respond to the top 100 questions women were asking from an Eastern and Western medical perspective, and in 2003, Breast Cancer Q&A: Insightful Answers to the 100 Most Frequently Asked Questions was published by Avery, a member of Penguin Putnam. During this time, she was certified by American Cancer Society as a breast health educator and used these skills to educate underserved women in homeless shelters throughout San Francisco. As a journalist, Charyn’s work has appeared in more than 100 media outlets including AOL, Condé Nast Digital Media, DailyCandy.com, FoodandWine.com, Health, Marie Claire, National Geographic Traveler, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Sunset, TravelandLeisure.com, TravelChannel.com and Yahoo! She’s authored, co-authored and ghostwritten more than a dozen books. As an early social media enthusiast, Charyn is most in awe of its power to create community and conversation. In 2009, she used Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects, to raise more than $20,000 in 90 days solely via Facebook and Twitter. She handed in her travel writer all-access pass and founded The Global Citizen Project (http://www.globalcitizenproject.blogspot.com/), and for the next year she volunteered with 12 community projects dotted around the globe. She tallied close to 1,000 hours of service and took friends and followers on a virtual “do good” trip, raising awareness, educating about the beauty of our world and giving people new perspectives. In 2010, Charyn’s volunteer efforts were recognized and she was the recipient of a $5,000 Voluntourism Grant from Travelocity’s Travel for Good® Program in WE TV’s First Annual WE Do Good Awards Contest, in partnership with Ladies’ Home Journal. She is Wyndham Worldwide’s resident voluntourism expert and blogs monthly female-friendly columns for its “Women on Their Way” website. Charyn has spoken on behalf of United Way of King County to Social Media Club Seattle on how nonprofits can use social media for fundraising and volunteer outreach. She’s volunteered as a Social Media Team member for United Way of King County’s annual Community Resource Exchange, as well as with several breast health-centric organizations, including F Cancer, Beats for Boobs, and Boarding for Breast Cancer. She lives in Seattle with her longtime boyfriend Morgan, and their Guatemalan rescue dog, Mimi. Find her on Twitter at @charynpfeuffer.
Christine is currently studying Psychology and Education as an undergraduate student at the University of Washington. She enjoys getting involved in campus programs aimed at assisting others. For example, Christine is a member of the Dream Project, an organization dedicated to assisting first-generation and low-income students from local high schools with the college admissions process. She is also Vice President of an on campus club, STAND, the student-led division of United to End Genocide. Christine plans to attend grad school and pursue a career within the non-profit sector, specifically one focused on prevention and educating children and teens about topics such as safe sex practices, drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, nutrition, bullying, etc. Christine first learned about Check Your Boobies through her membership with Kappa Delta sorority. She was immediately intrigued by CYB’s mission because of her passion for health education and spreading awareness. She feels a personal connection to CYB as several of her friends’ mothers and grandmothers have passed away from breast cancer. In her spare time she enjoys reading, snowboarding, spending time with her family, and cheering on the Husky football team with her friends.
In 2008 I attended a Check Your Boobies party and began performing monthly self- exams. Three years later, at age 41, I discovered a lump that despite having no family history was diagnosed as breast cancer. I 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. My cancer was stage 2 and aggressive but my doctor assured me that because I found it early, I would be cured! I am dedicated to educating other women so that they can take control of their health and have the opportunity for the same successful outcome that I’ve experienced.
Katrina was born and raised in New York City and is an 8 year 3 time survivor of Breast Cancer. Her mother and Aunt had breast cancer, her sister is a 4 year survivor, and a cousin is in ongoing treatment for the past 3 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 walked the Susan Komen 3 Day in 2007 and considers that one of her greatest accomplishments. She also trained to be a peer counselor for other Breast Cancer survivors. She loves making greeting cards and many other crafts. Her greatest joys are time spent with family and friends. And like the hurricane she loves being forceful in telling women to get their mammograms.
La Tasha Barnwell is a recent graduate of San José State University’s Health Science program where she developed a strong passion and understanding for the power of prevention and health education. With minors in Spanish and Biology, La Tasha dreams to merge her various forms of knowledge and redefine the medical field with a standard of prevention, education, and access. She has worked in the health education for most of her undergraduate career and is now working in a community clinic educating adolescents on the importance of safe sex and family planning. La Tasha’s involvement with the Check Your Boobies organization holds a special place in her heart because she has had a recent family history of breast and ovarian cancer. Being of African American decent, she understands that there is a lower prevalence of breast cancer in her community but she is vastly aware that the death rates associated with these diseases. With the Check Your Boobies organization, La Tasha has a platform to be an advocate for her own health and the health of women of all races and say that no matter the size, color, or shape you should always protect yourself and Check Your Boobies.
Kristin is a two-time breast cancer survivor. First diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, at the age of 30, she was inspired her to take control of her health. To that end she did her first triathlon 2 days after her hair fell out. For 13 years she was in remission during which she continued to do triathlons and completed 2 Ironman distance triathlons. She also married a wonderful man, had 3 boys and changed her career from high tech to become a registered nurse. In October of 2011, Kristin found another lump, again during a self-exam, even though she had a clean mammogram 4 weeks earlier. After a mastectomy and chemotherapy, Kristin has a renewed dedicated to empowering women to take control of their breast health through education and awareness.
Chelsea is one of the UCLA Campus Ambassadors for Check Your Boobies. She is a third year Psychobiology major at UCLA and is hoping to find a career in the health field after graduation. Growing up in San Francisco, Chelsea’s mother empowered her from a young age to learn about women’s health and to be proactive about taking care of her body. Chelsea is so excited to be a part of the Check Your Boobies team; she is really looking forward to educating the UCLA community about breast health and breast cancer prevention, and learning more about it herself!
Jennifer is a sophomore at UCLA currently studying Biochemistry and minoring in Neuroscience. She learned about Check Your Boobies upon chance (she claims “meant to be”) when she tagged along with a friend to a career fair and fell upon the opportunity to be a campus ambassador at her own university. Being affiliated with numerous organizations on campus, like her sorority, a cappella group, work-staff, research lab, women’s leadership group, and other organizations, she easily made the effort to reach out to her own friends, peers, and other students about Check Your Boobies and breast cancer education. When she’s not studying for class exams, Jennifer is hanging out with friends, streaming through Pinterest, hiking, singing, teaching a free music class at a local high school in LA, or volunteering with friends at local community service organizations. As for the future, she aspires to attend graduate school to become a doctor and continually and actively promote health education.
As the UC Berkeley Ambassador, Katie is excited to begin sharing the Check Your Boobies’ message with her community, as well as the greater Bay area. When she first came across Check Your Boobies, her first thought was that so many of her friends would love to receive the education that this organization has to offer — if they only could be connected! She hopes to utilize her professional and personal networks in order to organize events and to find the most successful means of outreach on campus. Katie aims to be a positive-connecting force, as well as to do her part in promoting a spirit of health consciousness, particularly surrounding cancer awareness and education. From early on, she learned how important it is to know your body. Growing up, Katie visited the hospital each Sunday with her father, an Orthopedic surgeon who specialized in Oncology. He would always say that, “the patient will tell you what’s wrong, you just have to know what to listen for”. Katie is also proud to share that her mother is now an eleven-year survivor of Breast Cancer. The immense strength and true beauty of her mother’s experience provides an inspiration to Katie each and every day.
Needless to say, Katie is very happy to be working with Check Your Boobies!