7 Facts About Breast Cancer You Didn't Know, From the CanCan Group

 For those of you who don't already know, CanCan is an amazing education program by the Rivken Center that works to educate young women + people with vaginas on how to know their bodies, and make sure they are educated on breast and ovarian cancer. Their website describes their mission as motivating young people into "action about their health and giving them tools for early detection, prevention, and self-advocacy. "We give healthy women (and some men!), from all walks of life, a fun way to learn what they can do to feel more in control and less in fear about cancer. We also give cancer survivors a platform to share the stories that can save lives."

This week, Her Campus Utah had the opportunity to have CanCan present during our weekly meeting, and here's what we learned while they were here...

1. Cancer is only about 5-10% genetic. This means that even if you thought that since no one in your family has had breast or ovarian cancer, that you're totally in the clear, you might want to think twice. Cancer can effect anyone, and you should be prepared. 

2. The main risk factor for getting breast or ovarian cancer? Having a vagina and getting older. 

This isn't to say you should fear age (embrace your wrinkles sis!) it means you should be ready. Learn how to do a self-examination and do them regularly so you know what to expect.

3. Young, healthy women can get breast/ovarian cancer too.

You can hit the gym daily and get cancer, you can eat pure kale all day every meal (that actually sounds so dangerous) and still get cancer, and you can smoke a million cigarettes a day and get cancer. Don't assume you're gucci because you live a life of pure radiance and health and do yoga bi-hourly. 

4. If you have the "breast cancer gene" that Angelina Jolie has, your risk of getting breast/ovarian cancer goes up 60-80%. You may have this gene if other people with vaginas in your family have gotten cancer. If you had family members who had breast/ovarian cancer, start getting regular screenings ten years before the age they were when they got it, as that's the age range you're most likely to get it yourself. Assess your risk with the CanCan curriculum here

5. Another risk factor that'll make you hate your ovaries? If you started your period earlier in life, or had menopause later, that's another risk factor.

This is because the more you ovulate, the more chances to develop cancer. Now you're mad you started menstruating at 10 for worse reasons than just missing out on Sarah's pool party.

6. You have more breast tissue than you think.

When doing self examinations, go from the armpit down to the band of your bra, and all the way up to your clavicle. All of that is breast tissue (for real) and all of it can potentially grow a tumor. So be thorough, so you don't miss anything.

7. You don't have to endure pain.There's a huge cultural pressure on women to just suck it up and deal with their pain. You don't need to do that. See a doctor if you're experiencing the following for a period lasting longer than two weeks: frequent urination, bloating, pelvic/abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly. Catch it early, save your life. 

This isn't to scare you, just to be ready and prepared. One in eight women will get breast cancer some time in their lives. You should know now, and be in charge of your own health and your own body. Bare minimum, spend some time in the mirror today familiarizing yourself with the shape and appearance of your breasts so you can know in confidence when something isn't right. It might save your life. 

Are you interested in the CanCan program? CanCan does sixty minute informational parties and 15 minute workshops to educate. You can contact them about hosting one with a group at your home, place of worship, sorority, or anywhere else you regularly meet with a group of people! They came to HerCampus to party with us, and they can do the same with you. They teach with personal experience about cancer as well as hands-on examples on how to self-examine and stay on track to live a healthy life. I can honestly say that after the CanCan HerCampus party, I viewed my body totally differently and it has stuck with me. Here is where you can contact CanCan to set up a party. And even better? These parties are at no cost to you. 

If you're otherwise interested in CanCan, you can donate here or volunteer here. Follow CanCan on Twitter and Instagram


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